I love wood and leather. They're so sturdy, yet can be so smooth. This bag melds hard and soft to create a beautiful bag that's also practical enough to use everyday.
Note: I'm going to be specific about the dimensions and sizes of the bag I made, but don't be afraid to deviate from the size and make a smaller or bigger bag.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
thin leather in three colors
thick leather in complimentary color
1/2" wood (or 1/4" x2)
quick dry tacky glue
wood stain, markers, or watercolor
furniture tacks/decorative nails
Chicago binding screws (screw-on rivets)
screws >1/4" and <1/2" (only needed if you're using two thicknesses of 1/4" wood instead of 1/2")
button studs (2)
quilter's cutting mat and ruler
cork board or other large surface you can your leather down to
scroll saw, jigsaw, or laser cutter
sewing machine with matching thread
pull bodkin, wefty needle, or safety pin
Step 2: Wood Side Panels
Note: You do not need a laser cutter to make this bag!
Yes, I did, but it actually created some additional steps and may have been easier and/or less time consuming if I had just cut it with a jigsaw or scroll saw. That being said, I'm going to explain the steps I took with my laser. If you don't have a laser, create a paper template or print the pdf attached. Make sure you print it actual size.
I've also attached a cut file for all the pieces I laser cut. The clasp and bracer will come up in a later step.
Cut the side panels either with a laser cutter, jigsaw, or scroll saw.
My laser can't cut thicker than 1/4" so I engraved one set of panels and cut a plain set as well.
Once the two sets of 1/4" panels are cut, spread quick dry tacky glue over the entire surface of the plain panels and press them together with binder clips or clamps while they dry.
Step 3: Screws for Strength
Drill pilot holes with a small bit, being careful not to drill all the way through.
Add screws to the backs of each panel.
Note: It would be best to countersink the screws, but the ones I had on hand would have poked out the front if I did, so I didn't.
Step 4: Leather Interior
Note: Feel free to skip this step if you used a piece of 1/2" wood for your panels or if you used a countersink with your screws.
Because I couldn't countersink the screws, I opted to laser cut a piece of leather to cover the inside of the panels. This was purely to make the way the screws stick out less obvious.
Coat the back of the panels with tacky glue and press the leather firmly onto it.
Step 5: Staining
I didn't have any stain on hand, so I used art markers to color the engraved side of the panels.
You obviously could use stain or even watercolor to add color to the panels. Alternatively, you could leave them raw.
Step 6: Leather Strips
For a woven section that's roughly 12"x12":
Cut 12 strips of each color of thin leather that are about 14" each.
Use a quilter's mat and ruler along with a rotary cutter to ensure the strips are straight.
Step 7: Adding the Warp
Find a surface you can pin to. I used a folding card table, but you could use a cork board or perhaps even a low pile carpet.
Pin one color of leather strips upside down side by side as pictured.
Step 8: First Weft
Again, weave these pieces upside down.
The first set of weft pieces will start on the left by going under two/over one/under two... at 30 degrees. Use the quilter's ruler to find the proper angle.
The second weft piece will go under one/over one/under two/over one/under two
Basically, the pattern alternates between two and one and creates a pattern in the warp pieces. I recommend following my first three images exactly and then look for the pattern to emerge in order to finish. I've pointed out the shape that I found helpful to look for as I was adding these pieces.
Pin each strip in place at the ends.
Step 9: Second Weft
You're still weaving upside down.
For the second weft you'll need something to help you thread the pieces through. I used a pull bodkin, but a wefty needle is designed for this task. A safety pin would work in a pinch.
Again, following the first few images and then looking for the pattern is a great way to go about this step. You'll be threading these pieces in the opposite direction, again at 30 degrees.
Step 10: Fusing
Lay a piece of fusible interfacing over your weave, sticky side down.
Iron it by pressing firmly. Do not move the iron while pressed down to avoid messing up the weave.
Lift up the edges to take out all the pins.
Adjust any pieces that have come out of place and iron the edges again.
Flip the weave over.
Trim off any extra long strips.
Step 11: Trim the Weave
Use your quilter's mat to trim the weave down to the first point that the weave is complete. Ultimately, I aimed for 12" square and ended up with a woven piece that was more like 11" square.
Step 12: Glue Edges
Glue down any edges of leather that aren't being held down by the fusible interfacing. Use a paintbrush to add thin even layers of glue.
Step 13: Leather Backing
Cut a piece of thin leather about a half inch larger than the weave on each side.
Glue this piece of leather to the back of the weave by adding a line or two of tacky glue and then spreading it into a thin even layer with a paintbrush.
Press the leather down over the glue firmly.
Repeat this process until the entire back is glued down.
Step 14: Fold Over Front
Trim the leather around the edges of the weave to 1/4" and cut the corners off with a couple centimeters between the corner of the weave and the edge of the cut leather.
Add glue to the edge of one side and spread it into a thin even layer with a paintbrush. Put a piece of wax paper under the edge to prevent glue from getting all over your workspace.
Fold the edge over and press firmly. Wipe off any excess glue.
Repeat the process on the opposite edge.
To make your corners pretty, apply a small dot of glue to the corner and press the edge of the backing leather into the corner of the weave as pictured. Repeat on the remaining three corners.
Apply glue and fold over the same way you did on the other sides.
Step 15: Stitch
Run the edges of the weave through a sewing machine to secure your hard work.
Step 16: Thick Leather
Measure the circumference of your side panels and figure out how much additional leather you need connected to your weave. You need it to be the same width as your weave. I needed it to be 19" long.
Use the quilter's mat and ruler along with your rotary cutter or sharp boxcutter to cut the thick leather to size.
Cut a piece of cardstock or paper the same width as your weave/thick leather and couple inches tall. I cut the edge wavy so I could identify which side was the perfect straight edge.
Fold your new template in half twice, mark each fold with a pen, and then mark a 1/4" from the straight edge.
Use the template to punch holes in the overlapping edge of the weave and thick leather where the marks cross on the template.
Step 17: Clasp Cover
You need something to cover the top of the magnetic clasp. I cut this piece with my laser cutter, but a precut piece of wood from the craft store would work nicely as well.
Stain it the same way you stained the side panels.
Step 18: Clasp
Use the quilter's ruler to find the center of the weave and place the clasp cover at the center of the front bottom of the weave.
Mark the placement of rivet holes in the clasp cover.
Punch the rivet holes with your leather punch.
Center the "washer" that comes with the magnetic clasp between the rivet holes and mark the placement of the needed holes.
Slice the weave on your marks and apply the top half of the magnetic clasp.
Rivet the clasp cover in place over the magnetic clasp.
Step 19: Tacks
Tack the thick leather to the side panels with furniture tacks or decorative nails.
Step 20: Clasp Part 2
Magnetically attach the bottom of the clasp to the top part already affixed to the weave.
Wrap the weave around the top of the bag and make an impression on the leather using the prongs.
Cut the leather where the prongs made an indentation.
Attach the bottom of the clasp.
Step 21: Bracers
The back of the bag was a bit wobbly, so I decided to add these bracer pieces.
Cut two 1/8" thick pieces of wood that are 1.5" tall and the width of your bag minus the width of the furniture tacks.
If you don't have a laser cutter, you can use the attached template and drill the holes.
Lay the bracers in place and mark the placement of the holes.
Use a leather punch to add holes in the leather.
Stain the bracers before attaching them to the bag.
Rivet one bracer to the inside and one to the outside. Using traditional rivets would have been difficult here, so I used screw-on rivets (Chicago binding screws).
Step 22: Strap
Cut two strips of leather that are about 18"x1"
In the first strip, punch a hole in one end, measure 5" from that end, then punch holes every two inches until you've punched 5 holes.
In second strip, punch a hole in one end, measure 5" from that end, then punch one hole.
Cut slits in the holes facing away from the end you started on.
Add a button stud to the hole at the end of each strip.
Punch two holes 1/2" apart at the other end of each strip.
Cut one strip of leather that is about 21"x1.5"
Rivet the thinner strips to either end of the wider strip.
Take the button stud off of the end of each strip, thread it through the side panels, reattach the button stud, and put it through the hole that achieves the length you prefer.
Step 23: Enjoy
You're all done. Fill your bag with practical items for everyday or fun items for a day on the town.
First Prize in the