Be the classiest maker at your next picnic with this leather carrier that straps onto your bike (or broomstick), can be modified to fit a six pack or two wine bottles, and collapses into a neat leather scroll when you're done!
There are a lot of six pack carriers out there, but this design is a bit different and more versatile than most of the others I've seen. It is also easy to make, and requires no sewing.
I couldn't resist stamping "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good" onto the straps of the carrier. I am a huge Harry Potter nerd, and I thought this sentiment was appropriate for this object, especially considering its scrolllike shape, and the fact that it only reveals its form when you intend to use it... perhaps for mischief. I'd like to think Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs would approve. (But they wouldn't approve of drunken bike riding, so be responsible.)
In this Instructable I will tell you how to choose the right materials and use the right techniques to work some easy leather magic.
Only muggles carry beer in cardboard six packs.
Step 1: Supplies
- A large piece of medium weight leather (3-4oz) leather, can be chrome or veg tanned about 34"x 16" for the body of the carrier
- Thicker leather for the six 3/4" wide straps - I bought two 4-5oz 50" long veg tanned pre cut straps for this because I wanted to stamp on them
- Black Waterstain - or any dye you want to use to stain your leather
- Leather Finish - to finish the waterstain
- Wool daubers or sponge
- 20 Snaps and appropriate snap setter
- Leather Contact Cement
- Stamps to decorate your straps - optional
- Quartz slab, and poundo board or other hard surface
- Rotary and manual hole punches
- Adjustable V gouge
- Scissors for paper and leather
- Large piece of paper
- Wax paper or Saran Wrap
- Dish for water
Step 2: Design the Carrier
Before I started designing my carrier I looked online to see what other styles of leather beer carriers were already out there. I found a lot that were made up of mostly straps, and some that were just an attachment to hook a cardboard 6 pack onto your bike. I wanted to make something a bit different, ideally something multifunctional that could be disassembled and folded into a small package. I came across an interesting way to create a folded paper bag and I decided to see if I could use that idea to create an interesting design.
I took a large piece of paper and experimented with different ways of folding it until I found something that worked. I managed to come up with a design that securely carries 6 beers or two bottles of wine, can be easily attached to a bicycle, comfortably carried by hand, and can also be completely disassembled and rolled into a neat little scroll that snaps closed. The construction requires no sewing, and the pattern is just a simple rectangle and 4 straps.
I am attaching my pattern above, so you don't have to go through all this hassle!
Step 3: Trace the Pattern
Once I had created my pattern, I spread out my leather with the underside facing up, placed my pattern on top of it and secured it down with several small pieces of tape. Then I used a pencil to outline the edges of the pattern, and the sharp edge of an awl to trace all the internal the fold lines though onto the leather. This will tend to tear the paper of your pattern a bit, but it still seemed like the best way to transfer the lines.
Step 4: Score and Cut
Before I cut my leather piece out, I used my adjustable V gouge to score all the internal fold lines. I made sure my gouge was set on a very shallow depth and I tested it on a scrap of my leather first to make sure it didn't cut all the way through, or even close. This leather is fairly flexible and doesn't need too much gouging to fold well, but a little goes a long way.
I used the gouge on all the lines that needed to be folded (these are marked in green on my pattern), trying to make my grooves as even and straight as possible.
Then I used sharp scissors to cut out the rectangular outline of the pattern that I had marked with pencil.
Step 5: Fold
I took my scored rectangle of leather and folded creased along the lines I had gouged by pounding the edge of the folded leather down with a hammer. I referred back at my paper pattern to see which direction to fold along each line. I was careful not to pound too hard and to tilt the hammer slightly so I didn't leave marks in the leather. You could also prevent this by putting another piece of leather over the fold and pounding through that.
After pounding all the inner creases that create the two pockets, I folded the two sides into meet in the middle and pounded down those folds. I made sure that the edges met exactly along the center line for a clean look.
Step 6: Glue
These two main flaps now needed to be glued down everywhere but where the pocket is going to open. Before I started gluing I made sure to refer to my paper mock-up and mark off all the areas that needed to be glued.
Then I took a disposable brush and carefully covered all the appropriate areas in glue. The leather contact cement I used needs to be applied to both surfaces in order to create a strong bond. Once it was tacky after about 10 minutes, I pressed the folds down, making sure to line them up so they lay flat with no wrinkles. I pressed them down with my fingers, then used my hammer on the folds again to give them an extra sharp crease. I worked in sections, gluing down one side flap, and then the other, making sure they met perfectly in the middle.
Step 7: Punch
I let my glue dry a little, then moved on to cutting out my handle and strap openings and punching all the holes for the rivets that would help hold the leather together.
I used my paper pattern to trace the outline of my handle holes and strap slits onto the leather and then cut them out with a sharp exacto. For the slits, I also used a hole punch to define the ends of the slits and make them easier to cut out
I referred back to my paper pattern to see where I needed to punch holes for all my rivets, then measured, marked and punched each one. I places rivets in places where the leather layers seemed likely to separate from each other to help keep them in place and make the whole thing more durable.
Step 8: Rivet
Once all these holes were punched, I pounded in my rivets using a hammer on my quarts slab.
I attached all my rivets with the smooth cap end facing towards the side of my leather where the folded edges meet, because this is the side that will mostly be visible. The rivets I used are quick set rivets, which means you don’t need any special tools to attach them. I find this type of rivet very convenient and reliable for small projects like this.
When I was done I also measured and punched holes for attaching the long straps to the ends of the leather.
Step 9: Cut and Punch the Straps
I had purchased two 50” x 3/4” wide straps from Tandy.
I divided one of these into 4 pieces (each 12.5” long), and cut two 19” sections from the other.
I used my scissors to round off one end of each of the four shorter straps, and then marked and punched holes 1/2” in from the rounded ends.
I used the holes on the brown leather to mark where the four holes were going to go on the longer straps and punched them as well.
I ended up trimming some length off all these straps later, but I left some extra to be sure I had enough. I knew my leather version of this carrier was going to differ very slightly in size from the paper mock up due to the thickness and elasticity of the leather, so some of the measurements for strap placement needed to be figured out as I went along.
Step 10: Stamp the Straps
Before I added my message to the straps I decided to make a mock-up in Illustrator to help find the best placement for the letters. I drew rectangles the size of the strap area I was working with and put little circles where the rivets needed to go. I measured my stamp letters and found a font that was a similar shape and size, then I played around with my word placement until I had something I that worked. I decided I needed to use two of the rivets as “O”s in the words in order to fit them all, and I actually ended up liking the way that looked in the end.
Once I had my words laid out, I printed them and used them to help line up the stamps on my straps.
Before stamping, I wet (or “cased”) my leather with a sponge, This makes it softer so it will accept the stamp impressions more effectively. Then I used a hammer to pound my letter stamps into my leather. This was actually even trickier than I expected. I knew getting the letters in a straight line would be difficult but I thought the print outs would solve that problem. The definitely helped, and gave me something to line the stamps up with, but I still had a lot of trouble making the letters look neat. I even stamped a couple of them upside down by accident, which is easy to do because you can’t see the orientation of the letters from the back side. I was able to smooth over these mistakes and re-stamp, but the results weren’t quite as neat as I had hoped, and I just had to embrace the glitch because I didn't have any more straps.
Step 11: Dye the Straps
To dye my straps black, I laid them out on wax paper and used a wool dauber to apply black Pro Waterstain to the leather. I decided I wanted to keep the edges of the straps raw, so I made sure to only apply dye to the top surface of the leather.
When the waterstain had dried I used a Satin Shene finish on the dyed areas to seal it.
Even though I had made some mistakes pounding my letters, I still thought the straps looked really good once they were dyed.
Step 12: Attach the Straps
When the dye and finish on my straps had dried I used them to mark the remaining rivet holes on the body of the leather, and then punched holes. The bottom ends of the two short straps attach through just one layer of the brown leather, allowing the other layer to fold up and create a pocket. I was careful not to punch through both layers when creating these holes. I slid the corner of my poundo board between the to layers of leather to use as a punching surface.
When the holes were punched I riveted the black straps onto the brown leather. The short straps go under the longer straps and the two are riveted down together. I strategically altered the front to back orientation of the rivets in the center of the long straps to emphasize where I had used them as part of the lettering.
To safely rivet the bottom ends of the short straps, without damaging the second layer of folded leather, I slid the end of a metal ruler between the layers of leather and pounded the rivets onto that.
(Later I realized that I actually wanted to replace the two rivets on the bottom of the front straps with snaps that secure the ends of the straps when the whole case is rolled up. I ended up having to cut away the rivets and add these snaps. To avoid having to do this, you should secure the bottom ends of the two front straps with the bottom (male) side of snaps at this point. Check out the next step to see how this is done.)
Step 13: Place and Attach the Snaps
When all my straps were attached, I assembled my carrier as much as I could and tried it with both beer and wine bottles. Then I marked where the two sides of all the snaps should go on the straps and body. It took some figuring to get everything to work for both beer and wine carrying using a minimum of hardware. I had made estimates of how everything would attach on the mock-up, but the exact measurements were hard to plan accurately before trying it in leather. Luckily, if you are following this Instructable, I have already figured all of this out for you, and it is marked on my pattern!
- I added snaps that allow the short straps to attach for beer carrying, or cinch down tighter to wrap around a wine bottle on each side.
- The long straps snap around onto each other to secure the two sides of the beer carrier, or snap down over the ends of the bottles when the carrier is in wine mode.
- To hold the neck of the wine bottles I made slits in the short straps on one end large enough for the neck to slip through.
- I added two sets of snaps that hold together the two sides of the case near the handle which helps it stay secure on a bike.
- To allow the whole thing to roll up and snap onto itself, I added a second set of snaps to the top ends of the short front straps.
To attach the snaps themselves I used a snap setter and a hammer on a hard surface. As with the rivets, some of the snaps went through only one layer of leather. The stems of my snaps were a little to long to be secure on one leather layer, so I added a small leather “washer” to each one to thicken the leather.
To safely set the snaps in these single layer areas without damaging the second layer of leather, I slid the end of a metal ruler between the layers of leather and used it as a base to set the snaps.
Step 14: Transfiguration
With all the snaps and straps attached, the case can now reveal its magical shapeshifting capabilities.
To put it in beer carrying mode, slip the straps through the slits and snap them into place as pictured, leaving a gap between the layers of brown leather where the beer will go. Then reach in and pull out the inner layers of the leather so they pop up and form boxes that will hold the beer. Snap the horizontal straps around the ends of the carrier and close the two snaps near the handle to hold the whole thing together. If you are attaching it to your bike, wait to do these last two things until you have placed the carrier over the bar of the bike.
To put it in wine carrying mode, slip the straps through the same slits and pull them as far in as they will go, attaching them to the bottom snaps. This creates a tube on each side that will hold the wine. The horizontal straps on one end have slits in them, snap these down to the snaps on the bottom of the leather tubes. To secure the wine, slide the wine bottles into the tubes and stick necks through the slits, then snap the second set of horizontal straps around the other ends of the bottles. Attach it to your bike the same way.
When you aren't using the carrier you can roll it up, snap it closed with it's own straps and tuck the other snaps inside.
Step 15: Marauding
Now go buy something delicious to drink and sit out in the sunshine.
This carrier is perfect for bringing drinks to a picnic, choosing your own mixed six pack, carrying wine bought on a tasting adventure and generally looking like a sophisticated drinking wizard.