Introduction: Old School Bedroll

About: I have been doing leather work for over 20 years. I have been in business making bedroll harnesses on Bamm Bamm's Custom Leather website for 5 years. I have been working on creating a new website,…

If you don't use a faring or windshield because you love the wind in your face but you hate the "Flying Squirrel" effect of the wind, you need one of these. An "Old School" bedroll is the perfect thing to deflect the wind and keep bugs out of your teeth while still having the wind in your face. It stops the "Flying Squirrel" effect of just trying to hold on while the wind tries to push you off of your motorcycle. Those of you with Ape Hangers understand what I am talking about.This bedroll really works! While there are companies that make custom bedrolls, I am here to show you how to make your own.

Step 1: Supplies Needed

Tools Needed Video

  • 2 - leather strips 24" x 2"
  • 1 - roll of Tejas Waxed Thread
  • 1 - pair of rubber gloves
  • 1 - leather strip 2" x 7"
  • 1 - stitching needle
  • 1 - can of saddle Lac spray
  • 1 -Tandy Craft tool # F926-D
  • 1 - ice pick or punch
  • 1 - metal straight edge
  • 1 -rawhide or poly mallet
  • 1 - can of Contact Cement
  • 2 - small clamps
  • 1 -bottle Fiebings spirit dye - USMC Black or any other color of spirit dye (non-water soluable)
  • 1 - cutting board
  • 1 - pounding board / stone
  • 2 -pieces of heavy paper or card stock
  • 1 - 3D stamp Motorcycle Wings
  • 1 -3D stamp Stepped Square
  • 1 -1" Oblong Punch
  • 1 - Strap End Punch
  • 1 - Rotary Leather Punch
  • 2 - belt keepers or 2 strips of leather 1/2" x 4"
  • 1 - craft knife with extra blades or Round Knife or Head Knife
  • 2 - buckles your choice of Heel Bar Buckles
  • 1 - piece of 2" x 2" lambs wool or Tandy wool dauber

And of course:

1 - Blanket folded and rolled into a 6" diameter by 15" long roll to put inside of the harness.

Step 2: Cut Your Straps and Cut Belt Ends

Click here for video.

Cut your leather strips. Use your craft knife and a straight edge, or Tandy's "Round" or "Head" knife, to cut the strips from the piece of leather you have. The other thing you can do is buy leather strips. This is what I am showing you. You can buy different length straps. I usually use 48" lengths. You may also use already prepared belt blanks from Tandy's. However, I find more satisfaction in making the whole harness myself from scratch.

Use the two 48" straps and cut two straps to 24" lengths. One of the pieces left over can be cut to the 7" or 8" length for the cross strap piece. (The length of the cross strap depends on the width of your handlebars at the risers.) You will also need two strips 1/2" wide by 4" long or two already prepared belt keepers.

Once you have them cut to 24" lengths, cut the belt end curve on the tip of the strap ends. (You'll have to re-do the ends on the belt blanks also). To do this, use the Belt End Cutter as seen in the picture. Make certain that both leather strips are exactly the same length. Line up the first blank with the Belt End cut and place the cutter in the exact same spot on the second strip and cut the belt end.

Step 3: Cut the Oblong Hole for the Buckle

Click here for video.

In both 24" straps there must be an oblong hole for the buckle. Place one end of the Oblong Cutter approximately one inch away from the straight end of one strap. Place it so it is in the very center of the the strap with the opposite end of the cutter toward the curved strap end. Cut the oblong hole in the strap. Repeat on the other 24" strap.

Step 4: Cut Cross Strap for Visual Character.

Click here for video 1, 2 , 3

Now cut the middle cross strap to give it character. It will look better than just a straight strap across the harness. To do this I measure 1/4 " in from the side edges. I then measure 2" in from one end. I make two identical cuts on each side of the strap. I line up the straight edge from one mark on one side to the opposite mark at the opposite end. This gives me which an angle for my cuts. I do this on both side of only ONE end. Then bend the strap so that both ends are together, face to face, and mark the same angle cut marks on the opposite side using the first side as our guide. This way they are identical on both ends.

Next, Iine up the end of the angle marks on one side with the straight edge and cut from one angle to the other. Be careful not to cut too far and go past the angle. Remove the cut-out piece. Repeat on the other side.

We are now ready to stamp our project.

Step 5: Let's Get Stamping !

Click here for video 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5

Now that we have all of our pieces ready, we may begin stamping. The first thing we need to do is to dampen the leather on the 24" strap. Do not get it completely wet. Use the sponge. Wring out the sponge and then wipe the leather until it turns a bit darker in an even color. Then we must wait for the leather to begin to turn back to it's natural color before we begin. I use the square step craft tool. I position it so that the end of the rectangle of the tool is aligned with the ends of the curve on the belt ends. Position the tool directly in the center and hit is once hard. It will leave the step square imprint. Move the tool down to where the rectangle of the tool is approximately 1/16 of an inch away from the end of the square step imprint. Once again, make certain it is in the center of the leather and hold it down firm while you hit it once with the mallet. Do this all the way to the end of the belt strap.

Do the same on the second 24" belt strap.

Step 6: Diamond F926-D Craft Tool

Click here for videos; 1 , 2

Once done with the square step tool, now we need to imprint our diamond pattern on the outside edges. I use tool F926-D. Place it at the curve on the belt end. Put two imprints, one on each side of the curve. Then continue the pattern down each side of both belt straps.

Step 7: Stamp Cross Strap to Match Belts Straps

Click here for video 1 , 2 , 3 , 4

Now line up the cross strap on each of the belt straps. Figure out where you want to position it according to the number of step squares. Use the belt strap lined up on the outside edges to see where you need to position the step square stamp on the cross strap so that it looks like the stamping goes right across the cross strap.

Step 8: Cut Holes for the Buckle Bar

Click here for videos 1 , 2

Now that all of our pieces are stamped, we need to cut our holes in the straps for the buckle bar. Use the rotary hole punch or a small single hole punch. Make certain that the size of the hole will correspond with the size of the bar. Punch in the center of each Step Square on the small + in the middle of them. I usually only punch 6 holes. Depending on the size of the blanket you wish to use, you may want to punch up to 8 holes.

Step 9: Dying Your Southwestern Bedroll Harness

Click here for videos; 1, 2 , 3 , 4

Now it's time to dye the bedroll harness. I like to use Fiebing's USMC black Spirit Dye. If you are going to use this harness on your ride (motorcycle/horse) do not use water soluble dye. It will run in the rain unless you seal it real good and re-seal it often. The USMC black polishes to a beautiful black that will match any store bought saddle bags, jackets, or seats, in black. Simply follow the instructions on the dye bottle if have not used this product before. Be aware of all of the precautions on the label.

To use the dye, use rubber gloves (such as medical gloves), and make certain you are in a well vented area. Lay out enough news paper so that, should you get dye on it, it will not soak through the paper. Put the straps on the paper and get out your lamb's wool. You may use a wool dauber as well. This is just personal preference. I use a piece of lamb's wool. Put the lamb's wool over the open end of the bottle and shake it up and down gently or just slightly tip the bottle to get dye on the wool. Rub the wool in small circular motions across the leather giving it an even coat of dye across the entire strap. Dye the edges and back as well. You will notice that if you do not put it on heavily enough, the dye will look a bit on the blue side. Just dye over it again. Make certain all areas have been dyed.

You may dye this project any color. There are many colors available in many styles of dye. Call your local Tandy's representative and they can help you. I just personally like black.

Once the dye is dry, buff it out with a soft rag or a washcloth you no longer want. Old socks work good for this also. Once dyed and buffed, it will be shiny, then we are ready to begin assembly.

Step 10: Make Belt Keepers

For video, click here, part two, part three..

Punch two holes in each end of both belt keepers. Begin sewing by threading up from bottom on one hole and across up through one hole on the other side making a diagonal line in the underside of the belt loop. Hold the closed loop and thread the needle back from the top of one side diagonally down through the hole on the opposite side of the belt loop. again continue the threading pattern until you have a complete X on the top of the belt keeper (loop). Repeat on the next belt keeper (loop).

Step 11: Attach Buckles and Belt Keepers

See videos for better instructions on sewing the belt buckles on. 1 , 2

Put the buckle bar in the slot on the 24" leather strap. bend the leather through the buckle so it holds the buckle in place. Now slip the belt keeper up from the end of the belt up to the buckle. Center the keeper in the middle of the folded over area. Now use your awl or punch or ice pick, and punch four sets of two holes. One set in each diamond on the left and right above the belt keeper next to the buckle, and one set in each left and right diamond below the belt keeper at the end of the folded strap. If you use an ice pick, punch the holes from the bottom up. This way the largest hole is underneath the belt harness.

Next begin sewing,. Bring the waxed thread up from between the leather. Sew as if you were sewing a button. Do two or three wraps on each set of holes begin sure to end bringing the needle out between the pieces of leather and then moving to the next set of holes beginning the sewing process up between the holes.

Finish sewing by using a surgeon's knot (square not but wrapping the thread 2 or 3 times) and pull the needle through behind the buckle to the other side and pull the threads tight. Repeat making a knot that will not be seen.

Step 12: Add Cross Strap to Complete the Harness

Click here for more detailed videos 1 , 2 ,

This is the last part, attaching the cross strap. For this, I measure down from the belt loop seven step squares. It can be however many you wish, this is just how I do it for the cross strap to be located opposite of the buckle once a blanket is placed in it.

use a dauber and place one small spot of contact cement in the middle of each seventh step square and allow to dry for a few minutes. Also, place one small spot of contact cement on each end in the middle of where the step square is located but on the rough or back sides on the cross strap. Let the contact cement dry for a few minutes. Now place the cross strap on the harness lining up the step squares on the ends of the cross straps to the step squares on the buckle straps, glue dot to glue dot. Place the heavy paper, card stock, or card board over the joint and clamp. Make certain you do not twist, turn, or move the strap when doing so. Keep the edges flush with each other. Let this stand for an hour or so.

Remove the clamp on one side. Remove the paper. Place on cutting board or place a magazine underneath the joint. Using your awl or ice pick, punch eight holes. One hole on each end of each diamond on the cross straps. Then begin sewing.

Bring the needle up between the two pieces of leather through one hole near the edge of the cross strap. Then sew as you did the buckles, going up and down through each set of holes remembering to come out between the two pieces of leather and re-entering between two pieces of leather once you move to the next set of holes. End by using the surgeon's knot or box square knot with two to three twists to tie off the strings. Cut remaining strings and repeat this process on the other side.

Step 13: Harness Finished Now Add Blanket

Here is the finished product. 1 , Here are other ideas. 2

Now just roll up the blanket of your choice into approximately a 15" by 6" diameter roll and buckle the harness around it. If you position the buckle straps around your handlebars with the blanket, You will eliminate the "Flying Squirrel" effect when you ride.

Some other ideas are to change the pattern or colors to fit your taste and match your bike. Also, you can personalize it on the cross strap with a nick name or your initials etc. Have fun with this and make it your own. Enjoy the Ride!!!


"Bamm Bamm"

Tandy Leather Contest 2016

Participated in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016