Introduction: Stylish, Easy-to-Make Leather Fanny Pack

You've wanted to get into making leather goods for a long time but you don't know where to start. Here's a simple first project you can execute with very few materials. And the outcome's pretty remarkable, don't you think? It will take you about the length of an afternoon to create your own.

I made this fanny pack for my wife, who loves minimalist, elegant leatherwear and was tired of hauling a shoulder bag around. She'd been wanting a fanny pack big enough for her essentials (phone, small wallet, keys), and comfortable enough that she could dance while wearing it, for a long time. I asked her to describe the hip bag of her dreams, and this is the result.

This instructable is for a fanny pack that's 30 centimeters long and 16 centimeters high, not including the strap.

I'll present two different toolkits and some corresponding adaptions throughout the tutorial. My aim is to address the widest audience possible, from advanced leathercrafters to people interested in carrying out their first leather project with almost no tools.

Hope you have fun creating!

Step 1: Supplies


  • cutting mat
  • punching pad
  • sharp utility knife or X-Acto
  • wooden mallet or nylon hammer
  • steel ruler
  • rotary hole punch or 4mm leather hole punch
  • size-6 paint brush
  • two size-4 John James Saddlers leather needles
  • awl
  • two-tooth, 5mm leather stitching chisel
  • wing divider
  • wood slicker
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • 150-grit sandpaper or Dremel
  • strap cutter
  • 12mm double cap setting tool kit

Minimal tool kit (you can complete the project with only the following items):

  • wood plank
  • utility knife
  • one 2d-size nail (for sewing holes)
  • one 8d-size nail (for closing holes)
  • fork
  • ruler
  • hammer
  • two leather needles
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • 150-grit sandpaper


  • vegetable- or chrome-tanned leather, 3oz to 5oz (1.2mm to 2mm), approximately 2 square feet
  • 1200mm x 25mm leather strap, 5oz to 8oz (2mm to 3.2mm)

I used the same relatively firm 5oz chrome-tanned leather for both the bag and the belt.


  • two 35mm brass O-rings
  • one 6mm screwback head button stud
  • one 12mm x 9mm double cap brass rivet (optional; you can sew instead)

Other materials:

  • 0.5mm to 1mm polyester thread
  • Eco-Flo Leathercraft Glue or any kind of contact cement
  • Tokonole or gum tragacanth (optional)
  • leather edge paint (optional)

Step 2: Prepare the Pattern

1. Download and print out the pattern

You'll find the patterns for this project below (see image 1).

You'll need to print three pages in total.

There are two different versions available: A4 and US letter size. Choose the size that corresponds to your paper.

IMPORTANT: Make sure to set your printer to the 100% (actual size) option, then print and verify the size of the test square. The side of the square should measure 2cm.

2. Assemble the round circle

The last two pages, when put together, create a full circle. Cut away the white margins at the top of one of these pages and the bottom of the other (see image 2). Then assemble the two pages by aligning the crosses and taping the papers together (see image 3).

3. Cut out all of your patterns

Cut the entire circle out. Cut everything else out, too (the semi-circle, the belt loop, and the end of your belt) (see image 4).

4. Glue the patterns onto cardboard(optional)

You can glue the patterns onto Canson paper or, even better, 2mm gray cardboard, and then cut them out (see image 5).

This will make the patterns last longer and the thickness of the paper/cardboard will help you cut your leather more cleanly.

Step 3: Cut the Leather

1. The bag itself (two pieces)

Place your patterns on the leather (see image 2).

Secure the patterns with a weight (here I used a filled glass bottle) to keep them still (see image 3).

Cut the shapes out with your utility knife (see image 4).

2. The belt (two pieces)

Cut the belt loop using your belt loop pattern (59mm x 10mm) (see image 5).

Cut the belt (1200mm x 25mm) (see image 6).

You can either do this using a strap cutter or with your ruler. Make marks with your awl (or a nail) along the leather before cutting to keep the belt as regular and straight as possible.

Note: One side of the belt needs to be cut straight down. On the other side, I cut diagonally, because I wanted to be funky, but feel free to cut however you'd prefer (see image 7).

Now all of your pieces should be ready (see image 1). Let's head to the next step!

Step 4: Prepare the Bag Pieces

1. Make the holes for the screwback head button stud

Take the round piece, place the pattern on it, and make holes through paper and skin using your rotary hole punch or 4mm leather hole punch—or even a big nail and a punching pad or piece of wood (see image 1).

Now take the semicircle and place the pattern on it. I had to mark the black point with my awl (see image 2) because I couldn't access it with the rotary hole punch directly. I bent the leather in order to reach the point (see image 3).

2. Cut the opening you'll use to slide the belt in

Place the pattern on the round piece and find the two vertical lines, one on the left and one on the right. Make a point with your awl or a nail, making sure to mark the skin, at the top and at the bottom of each of the two lines (see image 4).

Take the pattern off and create the two lines by cutting, from one mark to the other, using your ruler and utility knife (see image 5).

3. Cut the opening for the screwback head button stud

On the round piece, with the ruler and the utility knife, cut a straight line measuring 5mm. Start from the center of the hole you made in step 1 and move toward the inside of the circle (see image 6).

Step 5: Glue the Bag Pieces

The glue is used to keep the pieces together while you make your sewing holes.

1. Mark the round piece

You won't need to glue the entire circumference of the round piece, since you won't want to glue the flap. So you'll have to mark the space where you'll be putting the glue.

Place the half-circle on top of the round one, align the screwback head button stud with the hole in the circle, and fit the edges of both pieces.

Use a pencil to mark the place where the half-circle piece stops on each side (see image 1).

Note: It's important to perform to align the screwback head button stud with the hole in the circle very precisely.

2. Paint glue around the edges of the half-circle piece

You can use any kind of contact cement, or water-based leather cement, like Eco-Flo from Tandy Leather.

With a paint brush, paint 5mm of glue around the arc of the half circle (see image 2).

It's best to move from the inside to the outside of the piece with the paint brush, so that the glue doesn't drip onto the sides of your piece.

Note: Don't paint glue onto the straight side of your semicircle piece.

3. Paint glue around the edges of the circle piece

Now paint the glue onto this piece, moving downwards from one mark to the other (see image 3). Make sure not to glue the half of the circle that has a hole in it.

4. Wait for the cement to dry

Wait fifteen minutes (see image 4).

5. Stick the two pieces together

Stick the half-circle piece to the round piece. Make sure to match up the two pieces using the marks you made in step 1 (see image 5).

6. Screw the screwback head button stud onto the half-circle piece (see image 6)

To tighten the screw it's best to use a screwdriver.

Step 6: Prepare the Bag for Sewing

1. Mark a line along the half circle

Using your wing divider, draw a line all along your half-circle, 4mm from the edge of your piece (see image 1).

2. Punch holes along the line

Using your 2-tooth stitching chisel and a punching pad, punch holes along the line you traced (see image 2).

Every time you make a hole, place one of the stitching chisel teeth into that hole and hit the tool again, so that it makes another hole next to the first (see image 3).

Step 7: Prepare the Bag for Sewing (MINIMAL TOOL KIT METHOD)

This video will show you how to make a very useful tool for this step out of a fork. It's in French, but you'll be able to figure it out by following the images.

You can also just use a regular fork, without transforming it.

1. Mark a line along the half-circle
With your fork (that should have at least 4mm of distance between two teeth), place one tooth outside and the next tooth inside the piece. Trace a line that follows the edge of the piece (see image 1).

2. Make marks along the line

With two fork teeth mark the places where you'll be making holes along the line (see image 2). Every time you make a mark, place one of the fork teeth onto that mark and press down on the fork again, so that it makes another mark next to the first.

3. Punch holes along the line

Using your awl or a small nail, a hammer, and a piece of wood, hammer a hole through each of the marks you just made (see image 3).

Step 8: Sew the Bag

If you don't know how to saddle stitch, then watch the video I've included.

1. Stitch the bag

Cut a thread three times the size of the length you need to sew.

Thread two needles, one on either side of your length of thread. Then start at one side and sew along the bag (see image 1).

When you reach the end, make three last stitches, moving backwards from the final hole, to secure your sewing.

2. Finish your sewing

Pass each needle through the last hole it went in, but only through one layer of leather (see image 2). Your needle should wind up inside the bag.

Now that your two needles and threads are inside the bag, make a triple knot and cut the threads as close to the knot as you can (see image 3).

Step 9: Sand the Edges

Using a Dremel or 150-grit sandpaper, sand the edges of your bag until both layers of leather are the same height (see images 2 and 3).

Get rid of the fiber using a smaller grit (400- to 600-grit sandpaper) (see image 1).

Step 10: Optional: Finishing the Edges

1. Bevel the edges

Use the edge beveler or a Dremel to bevel your edges on both pieces, but only on the grain side (see image 1).

2. Burnish the edges

Line your edges with water, wax, tragacanth gum, or Tokonole, and then burnish them (see image 2).

Note: With vegetable-tanned leather you won't necessarily need to perform the next step. With chrome-tanned leather, you'll want to perform the next step, or else your result won't look very good.

3. Paint the edges

Paint on one coat of leather edge paint with the help of your awl (see image 3). Wait until it's dry.

Paint on another coat with the help of your awl. Wait until it's dry.

Slightly sand the edges of your bag to make them smoother.

Repeat these steps until you reach a satisfying result.

When you're satisfied, wet a piece of fabric and gently brush your edges to smoothen them out even more.

Note: To obtain a professional-looking result, you'll need to heat the edges with an iron crease after each coat.

Step 11: Optional: Finishing the Edges (MINIMAL TOOLKIT METHOD)

1. Break the edges

Use sandpaper to break the edges of the leather. Sand the edges at a 45-degree angle (see image 1).

2. Burnish the edges

Use canvas or any kind of fabric and wax or water.

With your finger, spread water on a small piece of your bag's edge (5cm to 8cm), then with the canvas move back and forth on the edge (see image 2).

If you're using vegetable-tanned leather, especially, you'll see results in no time.

Step 12: Make the Belt

1. The belt loop

Place the pattern on your belt loop piece and mark the four holes (see image 2).

Make the holes on each side of the piece using your awl or a small nail (see image 3).

Sew the two sides together. You can make an x or two straight lines, like I did. Pass the thread through each hole at least twice to make it sturdy. Make a knot inside the loop and cut the thread (see image 4).

2. The belt

On the straight side, makes two holes using the pattern. Pierce through paper and skin using your rotary hole punch or 4mm leather hole punch, or even a big nail and a punching pad or a piece of wood (see image 5).

Place your two O-rings and wrap the belt around them in order to align the two holes.

Slide the double cap rivet into each side, where the holes are, and press together (see image 6).

Using your hammer and your double cap setting tool kit, pound down the rivet (see image 1).

Alternative methods:

If you don't have a setting tool kit, you can set the rivet on a hard, flat surface with a hammer.

If you don't have a rivet, you can saddle stitch the belt instead.

3. Slide the belt into the bag

With the round piece side of the fanny pack facing you, slide the belt (with the flesh side facing you) through the openings; first you'll enter the bag and then exit it (see image 7).

As a final step, slide the belt loop onto the belt (see image 8).

Step 13: Wear It, Brag Around Town

That's it! In one afternoon, you've made a simple, elegant-looking pouch that you can wear around your waist or across your chest to keep your hands free and your shoulders unburdened. It looks good with just about everything, is a stylish unisex design, comes with an adjustable belt, fits all your essentials, and is a snap to create. Enjoy it!

Thanks for viewing my Instructable, I hope you liked it.

I've entered it into the leather challenge, and would appreciate your vote.

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