Leather Messenger Bag/Brief Case





Introduction: Leather Messenger Bag/Brief Case

This project was created for my son who plays piano, trumpet, clarinet, & who knows what he will pickup next. He was using a shopping bag to carry his music books around in. It was time for an upgrade. So I planned it all out, cut it out and started putting it together and he says "I don't want a shoulder strap, I want a handle.", so plans changed. Messenger bag almost became a briefcase.

I am going to assume you know how to sew and work leather, or that you can research how, so I am just going to guide you through the steps I took.

Like many things I build, I build it around the purpose to fit the need, rather than following a set plan with set measurements.

Step 1: Design

I wanted a music design on it, so I sketched out something the size I wanted for on the front flap. I grabbed his music books and took "note" of the size and thickness needed to hold them.

First I cut out the pieces for the front, back/flap, inside pocket, sides/bottom strip, leaving room for stitching.

It would have been easier and more uniform, if I had stained the cow before I cut out the pieces, but I didn't and I do like the mottled look from using a wool dauber to apply the dye.

Step 2: Image Transfer

Draw design on paper.

Trace onto tracing film (paper does not work well in wet conditions).

Using a stylus trace again onto damp leather.

Cut lines with a swivel knife into leather.

Stain and colour leather.

Step 3: Sew Now We Just Have to Put It Together.

I used contact cement to glue the bottom and side edges of the inside pocket to the back/flap .

Punched holes for stitching on the back/flap and front, counted the holes and punched the same number in the bottom/sides strip.

Attached a D ring on each end of the strip that I was going to use to attach the shoulder strap that may now never happen.

Attached the clasp to secure the flap.

I knew I wanted the front and back to be straight so I dampened the strip, so it was more flexible and as it was stitched I worked it into the shape I wanted.

When it was all put together, I marked the location for the handle to attach, riveted and sewed it on.

Under the strip of leather that holds the handle, I put a strip of flexible plastic to stiffen it and reduce the sideways flex. Also the D rings for the handle are pulling on the plastic and not the leather so it won't stretch out of shape.



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    14 Discussions

    What ounce leather did you use? Also what finish did you put over the dye.? Thanks you

    1 reply

    I think I used about 5 oz for the case and 3oz for the pocket inside. Over the stain I used Fiebing's Leather Balm with atom wax (neutral). It is holding up well.

    Fantastic! And I love that design on the front.

    I picked up a leather messenger bag very similar not long back (secondhand but well kept) to use for my music, lucky thing it fits my books perfectly, but lacks character.

    I'm not experienced with leather, but would it be hard to put a design of my own, similar to what you've done, onto the bag?

    1 reply

    Thanks, glad you like it.

    If the bag you have was vegetable tanned leather, then there is a chance you could do what you want, but if the leather was oil tanned then it won't take stamping.

    Oil tanned is usually a softer floppy leather often used for making clothing.

    If it is Vegetable tanned then what kind of finnish was used? Leather is much easier to cut and stamp when it is damp and finishes are designed to make it harder to get marked.

    Try stamping and cutting a bit of vegetable tanned leather first so you know how it feels and works then I would say try getting the leather of your bag damp and try stamping something where you would want it and if it takes then you could try cutting a design. If it does not take the stamp then you know not to cut a design.

    Good luck.

    Post a picture of your results.

    I love your design. Thanks so much for sharing and do have a splendorous day.


    epic!!! I would buy one because I like steampunk-themed things and I have a laptop... and if I want to follow this where do I get the leather?

    2 replies

    I get my leather from Tandy Leather. I find they have a fast shipping response where I am. 1-3 days.

    Your so is a lucky boy to have someone as creative as you. This design is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

    It's a great bag! It's easy to bring with you.

    Thanks. My son likes it better than "just a bag" he says.

    Looks very nice!