Introduction: A to Z of Designing, Sketching, Converting Sketch to CAD, and Manufacturing a Leather Bag (or Other Leather Goods) Using a Laser Cutter OR HOW TO START YOUR OWN HANDCRAFTED LEATHER BUSINESS
The complete guide to turning up your creativity and making beautiful leather creations out of it!
CAD software of choice
Leather Needle (*2)
Zippers Metal hoops and other parts as needed by design*
*if your planing to make an exact replica of our sling bag for strictly personal use, contact me for ready to cut vector file and exact BOM
Step 1: Introduction
update #0 5/25/20 This is a WORK IN PROGRESS. We will complete a leather bag project together as an example for this tutorial and use that as a baseline that could be applied to all other leather products. I originally Intended to post this Instructable after being completely done, but as the leather contest is closing and still a few days left till the project finishes I was forced to create it early, sorry for that. IT WILL BE COMPLETED IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS WITH LOTS OF PHOTOS AND VIDEOS AND ALSO I'LL UPDATE ANYTHING THAT I MISSED OR NEEDS MORE ATTENTION, SO BE SURE TO CIRCLE BACK EVERY FEW DAYS IF YOU FOUND IT USEFUL.
..::PLEASE VOTE FOR ME IN THE LEATHER CONTEST IF YOU THINK THIS WORK IS WORTH IT AND HAS HELPED YOU::..
++ IF I WIN I WILL USE THE GIFT CARD TO BUY PARTS NEEDED FOR MY NEXT PROJECT ((DIY VACUUM TABLE FOR LASER CUTTER FOR SECURING LEATHER AND SHEET-STOCK ONTO THE TABLE)) WHICH WILL BE THE NEXT INSTRUCTABLES I WILL SHARE WITH YOU, IF YOU WANT TO SEE THAT SOON PLEASE VOTE, THANK YOU ALL++
*Goals of this Instructable - This is a Comprehensive and Lengthy Instructables that's going to cover as much practical guidelines and tips in each one of the topics as possible. My aim is for the reader, with little to no experience with leather, to be able to replicate this project or any original project of his/her own after this tutorial and be able to turn a creative vision into a leather product by completing each and every step of the way perfectly. I will try to include everything I know, but if I forgot something or you have a question feel free to contact me, I will be happy to answer to the extent of my knowledge.
**Prerequisites - I assume you have the basic knowledge of how to use CAD software. You don't have to be a CAD genius, just how to draw basic shapes and curves, I will share with you my experience and tips on how to draw Leather CAD files for laser cutting. I will be using Corel DRAW in this tutorial but you could use any 2D CAD software that can output (.dxf) or (.ai) for laser cutting. Also access to a laser cutter would be nice. Any experience with design or leather working would be nice but not necessary. Other than these nothing but a creative mind.
***Warning - The Laser cutter is a potentially dangerous piece of equipment that can cause burns, fires or permanent eye damage. If not a professional laser cutter operator, you can use various cutting services, or if you insist on doing it yourself, always have a professional present when using the machine, always use the correct safety glasses for the specific laser cutter and always follow safety and workshop rules and guidelines. Also be very cautious when using sharp object to not cut yourself. Treat this Instructable merely as a set of suggestions, be beware there is no guarantee of 100% success (leather working is an art and a skill and it takes practice and practice and practice to perfect). If any harm were to come to you or others around you or any kind of damages were to be caused as a result of following this Instructable or failing to follow properly, nor the author nor the Instructables platform can not be held liable in any way and the responsibility will be yours alone.
****All the designs used in this Instructable are the Intellectual property of the author and all rights are reserved. Using, copying or reproducing these works for any kind of economical gain or any other kind of economical benefit is strictly prohibited and is unethical. Although I encourage you to get creative and design and manufacture your own original work, if you would like to skip the design section of the tutorial and replicate the same exact design as I have strictly for personal non profit use, you can contact me for the ready to cut CAD files.
About me (if you don't wan't to read about me and if I were you I wouldn't you can skip ahead to step 1, I mean its 5 minutes of your life you'll never get back!):
I have worked for a couple of years now as a designer for a few leather goods manufacturers from small hand-crafted leather bag brands to medium to large workshops producing around a hundred pair of shoes and bags a day. I also run a 3D printer and laser cutter workshop. I have mostly brought their visions to life, translating sketches and pictures into individual parts and then converting them to vector files which the laser cutter can process, and also cutting them too. But I also have done a few original designs for them now and then.
As I am very much fascinated by leather and leather processing and love leather products and consider myself an above average designer a while back I decided to start my own side business and bring my own visions that had accumulated over the years to life and started a little collection with big plans for the future. One of the first things to settle on was should I choose the hand crafted route or buy industrial sewing machines and machinery. As I planned on using the laser cutter to cut the leather you could say semi hand crafted, and after careful consideration I chose the semi hand crafted route for a couple of reasons.
For the market I was aiming at, fully hand crafted products were out of the question, the would simply be too expensive, require master craftsmans which are scarce, and the quantity would be very low, but by using the laser cutter quality can be kept at a good and consistent standard, process time would be low and quantity could be adjusted accordingly to demand, but at the same time it could be marketed as a hand crafted leather product.
The reason I chose the hand crafted route was firstly it has character, it has an air of luxury about it, each product has a backstory, someone has put many hours of his/her life to craft the product to perfection and has left a piece of their soul into it, its very cool when you think about it that for example the bag that you take to work everyday, someone has put a whole day or half a day of their life to craft this, I find it fascinating of thinking the route each product has taken to now be in my service, in contrast the industrial process just doesn't give it the same backstory and feel, its just one insignificant product in many others just like it. At least that's my opinion.
And the second reason I chose my products to be hand crafted was to support the local working population. Especially single mothers who are supporting their family by themselves. Many of them have trouble finding good jobs and this just felt right. We provide them with training and supplies and they could work from home while besides their loved ones.
After settling these issues the only thing left to do was to establish suppliers and online marketplace. I wouldn't bore you with the business aspects. Mainly we just bought lots of really beautiful high quality leather (we work with both real leather and vegan leather based on costumer preference) and other supplies and got to work. Fast forward to this day and now we have 4 beautiful leather bags in our first collection. If you would like we could go in depth on some of the business aspects from my experience starting a little hand crafted leather business in a separate Instructables, if that is the case let me know.
And now we get to the subject of this Instructables. This is the story of the fifth addition to our leather collection from concept and design all the way to CAD drawings, cuttingand sewing, to product testing and revision. Although this Instructables its based on one design I will not limit it to that and I will be providing tips and tutorials that can be applied to ANY CONCEPT AND DESIGN.
Thanks for reading my about section (if you have lol) and lets dive in.
Step 2: From Mind to Paper
How to choose your type:
So the first thing to do is settle on what kind of leather product you're going for. Is it a wallet? Or is it a duffel bag? Maybe a backpack? There are many types to choose from. Try to make informed decisions by analyzing your target market and their demographic, their culture, the environment they live in, their habits and needs, your competitors etc. Hopefully after this you will have a clear vision of the specific type of product your interested in and a list of the specific criteria that your design should meet in order to qualify as a contender.
For example we decided we should add a sling bag to our collection because it is really in style at the moment and it is unisex with a high demand and virtually no supply for it .There is a gap in the market that none of our competitors have filled meaning our competition does not have any available sling bags that I personally would be inclined to buy. Our target market would consist mainly of teenagers and young adults aged between 15 to 35 of all genders. Our specific criteria for the bag were as follow: The bag should have enough space and be comfortable to be used as an everyday bag by all genders, the bag should have an anti theft design and out of view pockets especially for the cellphone because a lot of mugging and theft and pick pocket going on, The bag should incorporate a pocket for storing your earphones, multiple card holders, a sunglasses compartment, space for a small book and notebook, pen holders, multiple internal pockets to divide space into useful parts and hold contents from flying around.
Up to this point all the design consideration was from a practicality viewpoint. Now we want to change our perspective and incorporate design features that are aesthetically pleasing. After all the looks are the most important part. A little further I will show you how to have a practical interior that checks all the design goals and combine it with a beautiful exterior.
How to design :
Participated in the