I started working with leather a couple years back making book covers, messenger bags, briefcases and the like. It's a wonderful material to work with but not very forgiving. You make a hole or a scratch and there it stays. If you have to rip the stitch Better be darn sure you can sew it back together in the exact same holes that you made the first time! But it smells and feels great!
Here is a small magazine messenger bag that can be used to carry the essentials; iPad with a cover, magazines ( if you still read paper mags ) pens, granola bar in case you get "hungy" as my two year old pronounces it.
First things first...
-Leather, about three square feet plus scrap for pockets,strap, and design
-Glue, just something to temporarily hold pieces to be sewn (UHU)
-Knife, some kind of razor like the snap off kind
- Hardware. 4 rivets and some dees, buckle for the strap if you want it adjustable
-Metal straight edge
-Chip board or thin card board for patterns
-Leather hole punch, #5 or 6
-Smooth face hammer
-Strong sewing machine
-Monkey Butler ( It sure would just be cool to have one, right? )
Step 1: Planning and Cutting
Here you got to figure out exactly what size you want your bag. The bag will be flipped inside out after sewing making it slightly smaller than your pattern, so you have to figure that into it too. The flap can be shorter also if you don't want a design on the front or don't have enough leather( if you're boring like that you cheap skate).
My pattern measures 10 1/2" by about 21" for the back overall. the bottom corners are rounded (see first pic). For the front piece I use the same pattern but cut it straight across at 11 1/2" up from the bottom.
I also cut the flap that comes down to cover the front about 3/8" in on each side. When you flip the bag right side out after sewing it makes the flap line up on sides.
Once you mark your pattern onto the leather with a scratch awl or whatever pointy thing you got, cut it out. You can free hand cut it or use a metal straight edge, it's your choice. Choose wisely!
Step 2: Attaching Dees to Back
Cut two strips 3 1/2" long by the width of your dees. Mine were 1".
Punch holes for the rivets at about a 1/2" and 1 1/4" in from each end with a number 5 punch.
insert leather into dees and optionally glue together.
Figure out where you want the dees that will be where your strap attaches.
Punch two holes the width of the straps and then connect the holes making the slot.
Mark holes for the rivets and punch them out.
Attach rivets with a smooth faced hammer.
Throw it to the side and move on!
Step 3: Turning the Front Edge
Skiving is the process of reducing the thickness of the leather on the back side ( also known as the flesh side ). This part can be skipped if your leather is real thin and can be turned or folded easily.
Measure in 1" on top edge of front flap and paint it with contact cement.
Once dry fold in to line then tap with hammer.
Sew it. I have a heavy duty machine so no problems for me. Before I had it I used literally a 100 year old singer made for sewing fabric with a tiny motor. Some of the newer machines aren't as strong as they tend to use more plastic and lighter metals. But a lot of the home models will sew light leathers. Try using a needle made for leather. The tip is more diamond shaped than round. This helps to cut into the leather as you sew.
Step 4: Add Pockets
You can make some patterns for you pockets. Think of what you want to put into them. Make slightly bigger than you think they should be. Square pockets can be made slightly wider on the top side so they are easier to put stuff in.
Mark on back of suede and cut out your pockets.
Glue them in place with something like UHU
Sew around pocket making sure to back stitch at top of each side. Only sew center line of pen pocket. Once you know how where to sew it to glue it. Sew it .
Throw a 1" by 2" loop about an 1" down from edge, Have it facing in like in last pic.
Step 5: Add the Fig Tree
Here's the artsy part.
Draw a tree trunk on a contrasting piece of leather and cut it it with sharp scissors.
Cut out smaller branches and make sure they underlap about 3/16". glue them on and sew them
Add some figs.
Glue on trunk and sew it.
Add some leaves and sew them on.
Step 6: Sew It Together
Lay front piece face down on top of back piece so the grain side ( good side ) are facing each other, and sew together with thread that is the same color as the outside leather.
You could add a liner at this point if you want. But I don't always add them. Fabric liners tend to wear out before the leather.
Once you sew it, wet edge all the way around about an inch in on both sides ( Did I put water on the materials list? you should have some lying around. If not you may die soon so call an ambulance)
Flip it inside out..
Tap the seem with a hammer to make it lay flat.
I think if you got this far you can do the strap on your own.
All done! Now take some pics and post em' here.