When you look at a flat piece of undyed leather it is hard to imagine what it can turn into. With the right tools and skills you can make pretty much anything. The transformation that takes place amazes me every time.
The music bag is called a music bag because it was used to carry sheet music around. I don't know if it is better than other bags for this purpose but nonetheless that's whats is called. It can of course still be used for this purpose but if you are a rebel you can put anything you like in it.
The music bag sets itself apart from other bags with is't unusual closure that consist of a bar the interlocks with the handle. Very clever and very easy to open and close.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Finding the right leather is still something I struggle with. I choose to try out shoulders from metropolitan leather as the samples I got from them were very nice. Also the replied quickly on all the questions I had.
When I got the leather it looked nice although I did expect it to have a bit less growth marks than what seemed to be the case. Being shoulder you can not avoid these marks so next time I might order the butt which normally have fewer growth marks.
Materials & tools:
- 2,5-3 mm leather
- 1,5-2 mm leather
- 2 x ø12 mm brass ball with M4 thread
- 21 cm of 8 mm brass rod
- 432 lin cable thread
- leather conditioner
- General leather working tools
- Metal turning lathe
- M4 Thread die
- Brass polish
Step 2: Pattern
The pattern is pretty simple. Be aware that the gusset length is difficult to determine.
Step 3: Dye
When the leather has been dyed it will curl up when drying. To prevent this I tried to flip it over and put a cutting mat on top. As you can see on the last image the leather is totally flat. Especially the gusset would have been really curly but now it is as flat as it was before dyeing.
For more information about dyeing and conditioning leather please have a look at my previous tutorial: Dyeing and conditioning
Step 4: Back and Front Piece
The front and back piece is very simple:
- Cut the pieces
- Round the corners
- Sand the corners
- Bevel the edges
- Mark holes for stitching
- Burnish top edge on front piece
- Burnish flap on back pieces (I did not do this but i wish I had) Go here to see how I burnish.
Step 5: Gusset
When making custom bags you make the pattern along the way. One of the parts that I struggle with the most is determine the length of the gusset. In theory it shouldn't be that hard. It is simply a matter of calculating the length of three sides on the front piece where the gusset will be attached. In this case the length is 82 cm. One might think that the length of the gusset should be 82cm. That is however not the case. It must have something to do with the corners. Maybe you stretch the leather a bit when gluing it down or maybe if your are not completely aligned with the edge you end up with extra material in the end. That was what happened to me. So exactly how much extra materiel did I end up with? 2 mm? 5 mm? no.. 8 mm too much! That is a lot so the only option is to cut the extra material off. Next time I will do as Al Stohlman suggest in his books. Before trimming the ends of the gusset you glue it in place using rubber cement and mark where the ends are. The rubber cement allows you to take it apart afterwards.
When I sew the front to the gusset I did it with one thread. The rule of thumb says that the thread needs to be x4 times longer than what you need to stitch. In this case that means 3,2m. The only real advantages of only using one thread is that you avoid the double stitches that occur when changing thread. I will not be stitching that long a stretch again with only one thread. It is simply to much hassle to keep track of the long thread.
When I sew on the back to the gusset I wet shaped the corners of the gusset to make it easier to to glue together.
Step 6: Handle
With a bag this simple every element gets a lot of attention. This means that you really have to make every element as nice as possible. The handle for this bag can be made in many different ways. I still experiment with how to make it.
This handle is not the actual handle on the finished bag but the principle is the same. The finished handle does however not have a rope inside. It is hollow but the leather is to thick that it appear round.
Step 7: Straps
The spacers are glued to the straps and then the straps are prepared for sewing in on to the the front piece.
Step 8: Brass Bar
You need a lathe to make the brass bar the way I did. Normally they do not have the notch in the end but I think it is a nice feature. You avoid the strap sliding on the bar and you dont need the ball in the end to be as big. To secure the ball on the thread I use locktite thread lock.