Introduction: How to Make a Leather Bag

For this tutorial you will need some basic leather workingskills such as:

  • Using a swivel knife
  • Using leather stamping tools and mallets
  • Saddle stitching techniques and double loop lacing.

You can learn these techniques from a variety of sources such as books, online tutorials and mentors. Tandy stores are a great source for all of these.

Tools & Materials Needed

  • Some 2mm (5oz) veg-tan leather
  • Swivel knife
  • Stamp Tools
  • Quality 2mm Lacing
  • Linen or other waxed thread
  • Lacing needles and Stitching needles
  • Leather Dyes and Acrylic paints
  • Hardware (rivets, buckles, keepers & a closure
  • Contact adhesive

All of these tools and materials can be found at good quality leather supply stores such as Tandy

Step 1:

Begin by choosing a good quality veg-tan hide of about 2mm thickness (5oz).

After carefully measuring and cutting out a template out of paper or card you can transfer these to the hide and cut your pieces.

Step 2: Tooling/carving Your Leather

If you would like to tool/carve an image onto leather it is a good idea to draw this on paper first. Dampen the piece of leather you would like to tool the design onto using a wet sponge or a mist spray bottle. Place the design on top of this and carefully trace the outlines of your drawing with stylus or a biro. This will imprint your design onto the leather ready for you to cut out with your swivel knife.

Once you have cut out your design with your swivel knife use your stamp tools to bring out your design. There are many books and online tutorials on tooling. It is very fun and not as hard as your would expect. Practice makes perfect.

Step 3: Colouring

Before you begin to colour your leather, it is a good idea to use some scrap pieces to test your dye and experiment with different application methods. Through this trial and error, you will notice that heavy applications will saturate the leather and give you darker colours but can also leave streak marks. Lighter applications using cotton rags, will give you much more control over your colour application, specially if you want to 2-tone your leather.

You can also apply acrylic paints made specially for leather with a brush to colour certain parts of your designs to really bring them out!

Do apply a leather finish after your colour dyes are all dry. Resolene, or Fiebing's Supersheen are good commercial finishes for leather to make the leather colourfast and give it resistance to water.

Step 4: Lining

You may decide to line your bag. A good material for lining is "Pig Split". It comes in a variety of colours and has a suede texture, perfect for the inside of a bag. It is also incredibly tough.

To line your leather pieces you will want to use a contact adhesive and either stitch or lace it to the leather so that it stays secure and will not peel off. In the case of this bag i double looped laced the lining to the leather.

Step 5: Straps

The strap can be lined also, in this case i have saddle stitched it to the leather using a waxed linen thread.

These are then sawn onto the sides of the gusset and a buckle is secured using rivets. A keeper is necessary otherwise your strap will come undone on its own. The belt end is not necessary but it gives your finished piece much more allure.

Step 6: Finished Product

And its done!

With some simple know how you will be able to create complex bags in no time. Do check Tandy for tutorials and kits to get you started on your leather journey. There are also lots of online tutorials for the basic skills you will need to get you on your way.

Good luck and have fun! Fun is key!

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