Don't be scared by this project!! I've never hand sewn anything before I made this backpack and it was a breeze for me. A lot of times I look at projects and find them too daunting, but I want you to know that this project is totally possible for even a novice creator.
Let me tell you the story of my Leather couch rucksack!
For graduation from high school I was gifted with a laptop backpack that was super nice! (but plain, black, and bland) About 3 months ago I got into a motorcycle accident and ruined the backpack. So I was in the market for a new back pack, but no matter how hard I looked I couldn't find a backpack I liked for a good price. And even the expensive ones weren't just right! So I figured, why not make my own backpack!!
Being the frugal person I am I didn't want to buy a lot of expensive leather, so I thought "Where can I get nice leather for cheap or free?" And I instantly thought of all the leather couches people throw out during spring cleaning!! It's free leather that's already finished! Basically materials on a gold platter! But actually trash on the side of the road.
Your backpack is a part of you, so make it special for yourself!
It warms your back, carries your stuff, protects your valuables, and adds to your personality!
Step 1: Materials! & Tips
Materials you will need:
- Leather (from a couch or store bought)
- Pair of jeans
-Flannel (shirt or pants)
- 2 Spring clips with a swivel head
- Waxed thread
- 2 heavy duty sewing needles
- Strap Buckle
- (optional) 24 eyelets
- Belt (for two metal half crescents)
- Leather hole punch
-If you've never sewn leather makezine has a great tutorial on how to double-stitch.
-Any length of waxed thread should be at least x2.5 the length of any material being sewn.
-If you ever run out of thread on any length you're sewing, back-stitch several holes and cut a new length of thread and start sewing from where you stopped.
-Always back stitch 2-3 holes to make sure your thread stays secured.
-Making a clamp by putting rulers on each side of your length of material being sewn and using clamps to hold it all together helps A LOT!
- Measure twice!!!! cut once!!!!
Step 2: Cut Leather
1. Make paper templates to the dimensions in the drawings above!
2. (optional) Tape paper templates together to see if the dimensions are to your liking.
3. Place template on leather and trace in chalk.
4. Cut leather out
(Leave an inch or two around the outside of the chalk lines on the main pack leather.)
Step 3: Attach Front Pocket and Water Bottle Holder
1. Punch holes around your front pocket and water bottle holder using your hole puncher and a hammer. (refer to drawn images for hole placement)
*Tip* To align holes I laid the short section onto the long one (as the gifs show) and punched through both pieces.
2. (Optional) While building my backpack I accidentally fully sewed the bottle holder with no outward facing seams to attach to the back pack. So to attach it to the bag I put 12 eyelets on the holder and 12 identically placed eyelets on the pack, then I laced the bottle holder on with leather cord.
3. After you punch your holes fold your pocket like the gif above shows and sew the 1.75" piece to the 12" piece. As shown in the picture labeled "3." above.
4. Now to make sure that the holes on your pocket align with the holes you will punch on the front of your pack, lay your pocket onto the front of your bag. As shown in the picture labeled "4." above. Then punch through the holes you already made in your pocket onto the front of the pack as seen in the gif.
5. Lastly sew through all three layers of leather (two to bring the front pocket together and one to attach to the pack) as seen in the picture labeled "5."
Step 4: Sew Your Main Pack Together
Pre-step: Tape together a pen and pencil and draw a line across your 23" section using the pencil as a guide for the pen as seen in image "0." In the section you've just made you will punch holes the entire distance of the 23" section, as represented by the red dots in image "0.". You will then measure 2" down from the top and draw a line the whole way across the 23" section. Now fold your edge down to meet the line that you've drawn as seen in image "0.1". Now tape the edge down and punch through the holes you have already made to create an identical set of holes 2" down from the original holes.
Be sure to leave 1" of material un-punched at the top of your 16" side. we will eventually use this to sew in our lining.
*You will need the two half circle pieces from your belt for this step.*
1. Well punching the holes in your main pack you will use the same method that we used in step 2.As you see in the image "1." I have folded my 6" piece onto my 30" piece to to match the holes while I punch. After I have punched to the end of my 6" piece I put a tack in my last hole and spin my 16" side to line up with the 30" piece as seen in image "1.1".
(as you can see in image "1.2" I decided to cut the corners off my pack. I did this because it makes for a more round corner on the outside of the bag)
2. Before you begin sewing your pack together cut 4 pieces of leather 1.5" by 4.5" these pieces will be sewn into the seam of the back pack to hold the two half circle pieces from your belt. Punch holes across the ends of all four pieces as seen in image "2.1" These pieces holding the half circles will be sewn into the seam of the pack 1.5" up from the corners circled in image "1.2". As pictured in image "2." you will take your two pieces of 1.5" by 4.5" and loop them through your half circles. When you sew them through you will be sewing through 6 layers of leather so be sure to pull your stitches very tight.
Step 5: Making Your Straps.
*I chose to make my straps half denim and half leather which made the process significantly harder. That being said straps can easily be made by cutting two 4" x 18" pieces of leather, folding them in half, punching holes down the long side, sewing them together inside out and flipping them back to outside out. The last two inches of the straps should be cut as image " " shows so that you can attach the strap buckles at the end.
I personally think the method I used added a really cool look to the straps and think that it was worth the effort!
Here are the steps!
1. Cut four 16" by 4" pieces of denim out of your jeans.
2. Cut four 18" by 1.5" pieces of leather.
3. You will now make your pieces of denim into long loops as seen in image "3." You will achieve this by folding your denim piece in half long ways (with the inside facing out) as seen in the gif above. You will then sew down the overlapped open side and fold the loop back to outside out as seen in image "3".
I used a sewing machine for this step but you can also hand sew these with 2 needles and some thread.
4. Now take your 18" by 1.5" pieces of leather and draw a line down each long side using the pencil and pen you taped together last step. You will then punch holes on the line the whole length of the pieces.
5. This is where things get a little tricky. You will essentially be sewing a long cubed rectangle as represented in image "5." Image "5.1" is a drawn representation of the cube. The red lines are stitches.
To make the process of sewing easier I clamped the portion I needed to sew between two rulers. (Image "5.2")
When sewing you may need a pair of pliers to pull the needles through the two layers of denim because it can be tough at moments.
When you flip your straps right side out they should look like image "5.3"
6. The 2" of leather left over at the bottom of the straps will be used to attach the strap buckle. Images "6." "6.1" and "6.2" show how I attached the strap buckle.
7. Lastly, punch four holes onto the opposite end of the straps as pictured in image "7." These holes will late be used to attach the straps to the pack.
Step 6: Straps Continued: Lower Portion of Strap & Handle
This part of the strap will connect to the half circle loops and go through the strap buckle from last step.
*You will need your 2 spring clips with swivel heads
1. Cut two 2" by 16" pieces of leather. Image "1." shows what your pieces should like after punched. Use method used in previous steps for punching.
2. Sew your pieces together leaving the last 5 holes un-sewn as pictured in image "2." The unsewn portion will be used to attach your spring clip to the strap as pictured in images "2.1" and "2.2"
This handle will be sewn on the back of the pack in between the straps.
1. Cut out a 2" by 10" piece of leather. Fold it in half, punch holes length wise through both sides. Then sew with seam facing out.
2. Punch 4 holes across the bottom and top after sewing together. These holes will be used to attach the handle to the back pack.
Step 7: Attaching the Straps and Handle to the Back Pack
1. Cut two 4" by 9" pieces of leather. One piece will be on the inside of the pack and the other will be on the outside of the pack.
2. Use the pencil and pen taped together to draw a box around one of the pieces of leather. Now punch holes around the whole perimeter of the rectangle.
3. Fold one side at a time over and punch the holes through to make a smaller rectangle of holes inside of the one you just made. As the gif shows.
*You made two rectangles of holes so that when you attach the outside piece it has a clean rounded edge.
4. Take your second piece of leather and place it under the first one. Now using the smaller rectangle, punch matching holes onto the second piece.
5. Now take the leather piece you just made and tape it onto the inside of the pack where it will be attached as pictured in image "5." and "5.1" Now punch the rectangle of holes through the pack and remove the piece and it should look like image "5.2"
6. Now it is time to sew the straps and handle onto the pack. Start at the top left hand corner and work your way right around the whole square. When sewing the straps on, do two stitches on the denim, four on the leather, then two on the denim again. I left 4 stitches in between the two ends of the handle. Then repeated the same process for the second strap 2.4.2.
As you can see in image "6." to create the nice finished edge you will be folding the edge over and sewing through both sets of holes you made in your first piece of leather. Image "6.1" is the completed attachment.
Step 8: Lining the Inside
Now to make the inside look pretty!
1. Get your flannel pants or shirt and cut out a piece that that matches the measurements of the template above. It should look like image "1."
2. Now it is time to fold over the top of your 11" and 23" pieces and sew them down. (This is to make the rim of the liner thicker so that it will keep its integrity even though its being sewn through. You can see what this looks like in image "3.") Now you will have to sew your 6" piece to your 22" piece forming the bottom of the bag.
3. Now you will need to cut out a 13" by 16" piece of denim to make your laptop pocket. Next lay your denim on top of your 11" by 16" piece. Tape these pieces together at the rim and sew the rest of the liner together. It should look like image "3.1" when finished.
4. Lastly, fold over the 1" flap you left from step 4 and sew the rim of your flannel into the pocket your'e making. Refer to image "3."
Step 9: DONE!!!!!
If you followed my tutorial you just made a $150-$200 dollar backpack for under $25!
And you also made a cooler backpack then you could have ever bought!
Now go explore the world with your new back buddy!!!