Introduction: Adventure Satchel: From a Leather Coat
Hello everybody, I would like to share this great little project that I designed. I hope that you guys enjoy it as well. For this project I used a old leather jacket that I was able to buy for barely any money, you could probably find one at a GoodWill, you can of course use plain leather, if you build it from scratch, but I like the idea of giving something a second life. Purchased the webbing for the strap at JoAnns, and all of the other sewing materials were purchased at Michaels except for the black 20Lb fishing string which was from Walmart. Hope this instructable is helpful, and have fun.
Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools
Tools and materials
20Lb black fishing string
pliers (for pulling the needle through)
sharp fabric scissors
One leather jacket,
Around 2 yards polypropylene webbing, found at any fabric store, should be strong and durable
Leather rivets, hammer, and anvil (at craft shop I found a kit for around $8) and....
A partridge in a pear tree (for a snack)
Step 2: Cut the Material
The first piece you are going to want will make up the front, bottom, and back of your satchel. I cut mine in all one piece so that the strain of the statchel's content does not strain the stitching but the strength of the leather itself. To do this you will take your jacket and lay it in front of you so that the front and back of the jacket are resting on top of each other. Choose either the right or left, it doesn't matter, and cut from the side seam (it should be located by or on the fold because of the way its on the floor) all the way around where the sleeve attaches to the shoulder and up to the neck of the jacket. There should be a seam that meets the shoulder and the neck so cut a little above that if you can. Do your best not to cut the leather with scissors, only use them when necessary, but use the seam ripper whenever possible. Once you have this piece separated do your best to bring it as rectangular as possible, do not worry too much about the side where the sleeve attached nor the bottom, but you may have to cut a little off the top where it connected to the neck it doesn't need to be absolutely perfect.
The next two pieces you want will make up the sides of the satchel. What you are going to do is flip the jacket so that you are looking at the back of the jacket. Then you are going to cut or seam rip the bottom of the jacket back. For me this was the area right above the elastic, but below the seam that ran horizontally about one third up from the bottom of the jacket. You will also need to cut this piece off at the sides, the longer the better so until you run into a seam, it should be where the fold is if the jacket has its back resting on its front. Once you have this piece you are going to dissect vertically right down the middle so you end up with two equal leather rectangles.
The flap of the satchel, what you flip over to close it, is going to come from the sleeve. Simply cut/seam rip (if you can) either sleeve where it meets the shoulder, then cut the wrist cuff from the sleeve. Mine had a snap on it that makes it perfect for something we will need later so save it.
Lastly you are going to want to save any scraps of a medium to large size. If they are a good enough size you can cut them into rectangles or squares to use as pockets, I took some from the neck/collar of the jacket, but any patch will work.
Step 3: Sewing on the Inside
I started out with simple needle and black fishing string because the stitches were harder to see. You are going to want to sew any preexisting pockets shut, so that they cannot open at all. The pockets on my jacket found themselves on the bottom of my bag making them completely useless, so sew those shut, you could remove them but I think they look kind of cool.
Now because leather does not really need hemming, you do not need to put much attention to it. However if you did cut through any seams you will need to re-secure those so that they don't rip or separate and compromise the integrity of the satchel. This is very important for that main first piece that we cut. Simply folding the edge over and sewing it should do or you could sew down the seam that was cut.
Don't worry about the lining fabric (whatever isn't leather) we are going to act like it isn't even there and it doesn't provide any real strength to the satchel. That being said we can now move on to the pockets which are pretty simple, on the inside of that first piece we cut (not the smooth side that is the finished leather but the soft kind of fuzzy under skin) take one of the rectangular patches or scraps from a previous cuts and place it where you want the pocket to be. For me this was about two inches from the top edge and roughly three inches from any side edge. Then go ahead and sew three sides of the patch to the main piece (the piece that forms back, front, and bottom). Sew the pocket so that the fourth un-sewed side is accessible from the top edge of the satchel, so that when the bag is finished you can access the pockets. I put pockets at the other end of the main piece as well, remember when doing this to leave the side facing the top edge not sewed so that the opening isn't on the bottom when all is said and done.
On either side next to the pockets we just sewed feel free to sew the cuff from the jacket sleeve so to make a perfect water bottle holder. Sew the cuff with a vertical line so that you can still snap the cuff/wrist together. I would recommend using the sewing awl for this step just to add necessary strength.
Step 4: Sewing on the Outside
Ok you have made it this far so congratulations, we are almost done all we have to do now is piece it together. This is the trickiest part but I have faith in all of you, just have faith in yourself.
We are going to start by taking the main piece and laying it in front of you so that the inside and its pockets are facing up. Then you are going to take one of the wall/side pieces we cut from the back, and lay it on the main piece so that there is about a one inch overlap. Both the main piece and the wall should have the inside facing upward. In other words the fuzzy side should be facing upwards and the wall piece should be next to the long edge of the main piece so that it matches up with the top edge of the main piece. Be sure to have the wall piece on top of the main piece and then I'd suggest putting a temporary pin in it. Now grab your sewing awl and sew straight down to secure that overlap, don't sew the entire length but just until you reach about a third of the way down the wall piece and then tie off your stitching from that line.
Then take the main piece and its end that we haven't dealt with and fold it over (if you are doing it right it should be a hamburger fold not hotdog) so that it meets the top edge we talked about in the last paragraph. You should be looking at the smooth, topside of the leather, now fold the leather wall piece so that it makes a hotdog fold with itself, the other long edge we sewed in the previous paragraph. Now with only about 1in of each lateral side of the wall piece sandwiched inside the main piece sew the unsewed long edge to the other end of the main piece, starting from the top about a third down the wall piece again. this should mirror what you did before and you should end up with a bag side with its wall sewn all except for the bottom.
To sew the bottom we are going to turn it inside out so you can see the pockets. Then take the wall starting at both ends where our stitches stopped and follow them along that 1in margin till they meet (this should be the exact bottom of the satchel). Now with both of the ends still along that 1in margin and in your fingers, fold the ends over to one side and pin it. Then go back to one of stitches on either side that we tied off one third down and start another stitching next to it and follow it all the way down the side, over that fold that we just pinned at the very bottom, and meeting the stitches on the other side. at this point your satchel should be inside out with a wall that is completely put on but with a funny triangle thing jutting out that is the excess of the wall piece. take this triangle and fold it over, then just sew it to the main piece bottom so that it is secure. If you put the satchel right side out again so that the smooth finished leather is showing you should have a satchel with one side finished (there shouldn't be any gaps between the side wall and the main piece). Now just do the exact same procedure of the last three paragraphs and do the same to the other side of the satchel so that you have two completed sides on the satchel. You should be relieved now that's the hardest part over.
Now we are going to add the flap. Take the sleeve we cut from before and align it with the inside of the satchel so that the end that connected to the shoulder now is overlapping with the inside top edge (this is the edge of the future satchel that you will want to rest against you when you're carrying it) Then just sew parallel along the overlap of the sleeve and the satchel inside edge. You should be able to open and close the bag by flipping the sleeve on top of and off the opening of the satchel. Lastly just sew the end of the sleeve (where your wrist would be if you were wearing it) so that you cannot reach inside the sleeve.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
We are nearly finished now, all we have to do is secure a shoulder strap and sew on some buttons to keep the flap closed. For the shoulder strap I used 2 yards (You may need more or less it depends on the bag's size along with yours, to give perspective I'm 5'10" and it falls comfortably at my side) of a polypropylene webbing that was cheap, strong and easy to work with. As for the buttons you could of course use snaps or a buckle of some kind.
To make the strap take your webbing and hover the bottom and top ends over a lit stove. Just enough to melt the ends, now we dont have to hem those. Now take the bottom of the satchel and find a rough middle of the bottom and find the middle of the webbing and pin them together. Follow the webbing alongside the middle of the walls of the satchel and you know you did it right if the two ends meet evenly several inches above the satchel. You may need to pin it more than once to assure that it won't move. Now Sew the webbing with the awl down the satchel wall, along the bottom, and up the other satchel wall on the other side. To further secure it I put two rivets in on the top of each wall. To finish the strap follow the ends and piece them together so that there is at least a three inch overlap. then take another rectangular scrap of leather and sandwich the webbing overlap with it, then pin it. Now sew with your awl, on the four sides of the leather webbing sandwich so that the webbing overlap and the leather covering are all secured making a firm and strong shoulder strap
All that's left to do is sew on the buttons the the front of the satchel, being careful not to sew the pockets close, and then cut the flap so that the buttons have a whole to reach through. As an added precaution I sewed though the two layers of the flap around the button holes to be sure they wouldn't stretch or unform.
Step 6: Use in Good Health
You now have a finished and durable satchel that you can use for camping, hiking, or general adventuring. Thank you so much for choosing this tutorial, if you have any questions please comment and any votes in the leather contest would be greatly appreciated. Happy Trails!
Participated in the
Leather Goods Contest