I really love video games and one of my personal favorites is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, so I decided to combine my love of that game with one of my other hobbies; leatherworking.
If you've played Skyrim, or have seen any movies or TV programs on the roman or dark ages, (Game of Thrones, Rome, Gladiator etc.) you'd have probably seen one of these cool little pouches used to tote around loose coinage or other small items, and let me tell you they are pretty simple to make!
In my Ible I'm going to assume you have limited or no knowledge of basic leatherworking skills, and if you fit that bill don't worry this is a fairly simple first time project!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Please note that these are just the tools that I used for making this, you can use whichever ones you feel most comfortable with, though that said these are fairly basic.
Compass (One of the most versatile tools I own)
Round Knife/Scissors (either one can really get the whole job done)
2 x Blunt Leather Needle (thicker/heavier is a little easier to pull with your hands)
Roughly 1 sq ft Leather, preferably of a more malleable variety such as deer skin, elk skin or suede leather
Leather Lace (for tying it closed)
Thread - You can go a couple of different ways with the thread. If you don't mind waxing it yourself you can get coarse linen thread (4 ply works well) and wax it with a block of beeswax. Or you can get some waxed thread from a shop to use. I know that marine supply stores carry a good variety of these in varying thickness and I've even heard of some people using dental floss! Last but not least there is also artificial sinew which can be found at most craft and hobby shops.
Step 2: Cutting Out the Main Body and the Bottom
Our first step is going to be cutting out the main body. Luckily this is as easy as making a nice rectangle out of your leather. The piece I was working with seems to be furniture leather and even came in a convenient rectangular shape!
I decided to make the length this rectangle 9 inches and used my awl to mark out the line I would need to cut with my knife, which helped to make the marking stand out quite a bit for cutting. The long edge is what will become attached to the base and the upper lip of the bag and its length will be dictating most of our other measurements, so be sure you have an accurate one before cutting!
Once I had everything squared off I found I had a little more than 5 inches for the width, or the height of the bag, which is just about perfect for a small bag like this, but you'll have to make sure that the short edges are the same size as they will soon be joined together.
Step 3: Cutting Out the Base
Now we come to the base, which can be a bit tricky for a first time leatherworker. Remember that we will be stitching across all 9 inches of the rectangle and the stitches on the circular base must line up in order for us to get a proper fit . This means that the circumference of our stitches (not the whole circle) should be 9 inches.
In case you wanted to get really accurate remember that to find the circumference of a circle you need to use the formula 2πr.
To get a circumference of 9 inches that works out to a radius of 1.432 inches, but remember that this is for the stitches, for the bottom itself I had a radius of 1.5 inches to give myself seam allowance.
Here I used my compass to create the aforementioned circle on a piece of the leather left over from our first few cuts and then used my heavy scissors to cut it out (as they are easier to work with for round cuts than the knife).
Step 4: Marking the Holes, Counting and Stress Relief
Here's where the versatility of the compass can really come to the forefront.
Now that both pieces are cut out we can being marking both the spacing for the stitches and the seam allowance.
First up we need to mark on all the edges exactly where we will begin stitching. I set my compass to about 3/16 of an inch, and ran it along all of the edges that will be stitched together. So our bottom circle, bottom edge of our rectangle and both of our sides will now have nice markings to show us on what line all the stitches will fall. This really helps to keep everything nice and neat and allow the stitching to be much more straightforward.
I then used the same spacing to start marking out the spacing for the holes by "walking" my compass down the leather. By applying pressure I was able to make some good strong marks that I used as my guide for punching the holes out.
After marking the spacing, you'll need to count the number of marks you've made on each side. Remember our two short ends will be joined together, and the bottom edge will be joined with our circle we cut out earlier. I'd suggest counting several times to verify that everything is right, and if you find that one edge is slightly off this is your only real chance to fix it. It's much easier to add a stitch or two now while we are still planning than to punch all the holes and realize they wont all line up.
Once you've got the same number on all the parts you can move on to the stress relieving portion of the exercise; punching the holes out! I've found that while you can punch through the leather by hand it does take a toll, so having a hammer to help things along can really be beneficial. Make sure you punch all the holes now since our next step is to start sewing it together!
Step 5: Stitching the Side
Now we come to the easy part, the stitching, or sewing, of the whole thing. Thanks to our prep work all you'll need to do is grab your thread, maybe wax it (if its not already), and go to town! A good rule of thumb is to pull enough thread to run the length of the section you want to stitch 4 times to give you enough to tie it off at the end. Whenever you make a cylinder it's best to start with the sides before the base, otherwise it can be a bit difficult to properly work with your needles.
Since I wanted to be a bit fancy I used whats called a French stitch, or Baseball stitch on the side of my bag. To do this you'll need two needles on the same piece of thread.
Push both needles through the starting holes on both sides of the leather and pull until the sides meet up flush with one another and pull the thread through until its equal on both sides.
Next pick a needle, right or left your preference, and pass it between the fabric to the next hole on the opposite side. Repeat this with your second needle. The result should be what resembles a chevron or a small "v" pulling the leather together. To keep this pattern going, you'll need to repeat the same action, for instance if you start with the right hand needle, the first one you move should always be the one on the right. Make sure to pull those stitches tight! A coin purse is worthless if its contents fall out!
You may find that the holes you punched are closing up as you work, if so keep your awl handy and reopen them periodically. Doing so will save you a lot of pain and aggravation.
When you come to the last holes push both needles through to the back of the leather and tie off the ends of the thread tightly.
Step 6: Stitching on the Bottom
For our bottom piece I used whats called a saddle stitch, which again has you using two needles to stitch through your holes.
Before we get into what this stitch is all about, flip your creation inside out, this way the seam you create will be on the inside and hidden from view. Again, grab your thread (make sure it's waxed), two needles and keep your awl close at hand.
Put both needles on either end of your thread again and run one of the through your first hole in your stitching, then pull it until you have the same amount of thread on either side. Take up your first needle (either one it doesn't really matter) and run it through the second hole, as you would normally.
Pull it tight once it's through to the other side. Now grab the other needle and run it through the SAME hole as the first. Pull both threads hard to ensure your stitch is tight. In my opinion this is one of the stronger stitches as it allows you to place pressure on both sides of the leather at the same time forcing them together. Continue repeating this process until you reach the end or run out of thread, and don't forget to reopen the holes with your awl! When you hit your last hole you have one last thing to do.
Stitch over your first few stitches again, only 2 or 3 holes worth, and push one of the needles through the next hole in line, and once it's through pull the needle off the thread. This should leave you with both of your threads on the same side of the leather. Take your second needle and tie off your threads together, but leave the needle on the thread for now. I like a good strong standard double knot. Once you have it tied tight take your second needle and pass it through the hole, pulling tight so that your know winds up sandwiched in your leather. After this you can cut off the excess and flip your new bag rightside out!
Step 7: Finishing Your Bag!
Once you've got your bag flipped you can put your finishing touches on your bag. I used my rotary punch on one of the larger settings to punch a few holes around the top and ran some leather lace through them to be able to tie the bag closed.
Now that you've finished the last thing you need to do is fill your bag with whatever small trinkets your heart desires!
I hope you guys enjoyed it and any pointers you may have are always appreciated!
Never stop Creating!
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