Leather Music Bag





Introduction: Leather Music Bag

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
  • dye
  • leather conditioner
  • Loctite
  • Renaissance wax

  • 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:

  1. Cut the pieces
  2. Round the corners
  3. Sand the corners
  4. Bevel the edges
  5. Mark holes for stitching
  6. Burnish top edge on front piece
  7. 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.



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    31 Discussions

    An awl, a sanding block made of cork a stitching chisel a pen and a cutting mat


    What diameter of rope did you use in the handle illustrated?


    Michael Campbell

    2 replies

    I know that the pictures shows a rope inside the handle but the handle I end up using did not have a rope inside due to the thickness of the leather itself. If you chose to use a rope a 6 or 8mm would be a god size but you need to make a test first.

    A great pattern which I hope to copy shortly, though I will buy a music case bar from Abbey Saddlery. What width did you cut your gusset to? I only see the dimensions for the fold in tabs at the end.


    Michael Campbell

    2 replies

    your work is amazing . I have been doing leather for about a year now and have been getting better at it to the point that my friends want me to make projects for them and pay for the material and labor. I hand stitch everything by hand using the saddle stitch method. Here are a few samples of my work.

    1 reply

    Thank you. It is always nice when people want to buy your things. Keep up the good work :)

    Congratulation, great Instr!

    I have a question. How do you work the edges? They are black and joint both sides of leather like one. What material did you used?


    1 reply


    Please take a look at my other tutorial (step 21):


    Where could I get leather sheets that would be big enough for this project but wouldn't be over my budget of 30 US dollars?

    5 replies

    If you have a Tandy Leather store in your area, get on their mailing list; they often have sales of odd lots of leather in various grades and finishes including the kind of leather used here, but I agree with mephit, it's probably not going to be *that* cheap.

    On the other hand, properly cared for, this leather bag will last a lifetime. Quality isn't cheap. Purchasing a bag like this would likely run to $100-150 or more.

    Is there a store finder on their website? Also thank you guys for your help with this I don't usually get a good response when I ask about projects.

    How weird, that was supposed to have a link in that message . to that part of their website. http://www.tandyleather.com/en/store-locator

    The simple fact is, you probably can't. You might find enough for twice that, but even then you'll have to search. Leather just isn't that cheap.


    I had or still might have an original of one of these.

    The leather was not great quality, nor was the steel rod.

    Using better quality waxy leather and a brass rod is a much better idea. Then there's the smell

    It's such a simple closure, it's surprising it's not seen more often.

    One of the long lasting memories of starting out at school was the hide satchel, the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the Public School Hymnbook and the New Testament. Later on, the satchel was converted into a briefcase