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Rustic Leather Satchel: A how to guide

March 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Recently I developed a desire for a heavy leather satchel or bag to mimic a vintage bag I had seen.  Since I couldn’t find what I wanted in stores I decided to try my hand at making it.  I did a bit of research on where to buy sides of heavy leather (like that of a belt or heavier) and found a store in Toronto that sold such supplies.  Paid them a visit and was a bit overwhelmed that first day; the clerk helping me thought I was a “little bit crazy” to embark on this task without any prior experience in leather work.   I left without buying a thing, but returned the next day with rejuvenated determination to see this project through.  I purchased a couple of simple tools, thread, and a side of 9/10 ounce leather (heavy leather belt style).  Armed with these hand tools, a sharp knife, and a hand drill I set about making a bag.

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Raw leather cut to shape for the main section.

Parts of bag cut and laid out

Parts of bag cut and laid out.

Tools: Awl, needle and thread, and rivets (also buckles and rings)

Tools: Awl, needle and thread, rivets, and buckles.

Sides cut.  Hangers riveted with rings and stitched to sides.

Sides cut. Hangers riveted with rings and stitched.

Bag all stitched. Strap riveted.

Bag all stitched. Strap riveted.

Completed bag.

Completed bag.

The whole process was spread out over three days.  There was quite a lot of time spent stitching the sides of the bag by hand.    Holes were all hand punched with the awl, then stitched twice with a simple needle and heavy wax thread.  This was no simple task given the thick and rigid nature of the leather, and resulted in several broken needles.

The final design differs from the original idea I had in mind, and at the last minute my gut feeling called for a last audible to keep the bag as clean and simple as possible.

A larger bag at 18″x12″x7″ it is quite versatile and carries quite a lot.  The leather has darkened slightly with the wax coating I have applied to preserve the leather, and will no doubt continue to darken as it ages, giving it a wonderful patina.

All in all, this project proved to be most rewarding and useful. I look forward to continuing my leather projects.

If you are interested, contact me for more information.

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