Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Look Dad I made a leather bag!

Me, me, I made a bag!!!


My Dad gave me some red leather quite some time ago now. Definitely more than 10 years, but not sure when. He bought a leather hide from a local tannery in Devon to make an apron for his workshop for if he was welding or something like that and gave me the leftovers.

It had been folded and moved from place to place ever since that time with no purpose at all. I have tried to work with leather before, but this is really thick. It's the kind of thickness that is used for satchels, so completely unusable for clothing or trims.


It wasn't until I found the leather the other day that cogs started to turn and ideas started brewing. At first I was thinking very ambitiously and thought of making an Orla Kiely inspired animal shape and then I thought a house, but finally I thought that I should calm down and bring it down a notch. I hadn't the faintest idea about how to work with this thick leather, so was getting way ahead of myself.


After reading a post about a bag kit on Tillys blog I decided a simple shape was needed. I actually borrowed alot of ideas of construction from there too.

I have a satchel already that I used to use alot, so took my bag dimensions from there. I quickly plotted a template on illustrator and stuck it to the leather with double sided tape. I thought that this would be easier to cut around if they were stuck in place, although I wouldn't advise that on leather with a special finish to it.


I cut the pieces out with a metal ruler and a scalpel (the blade would carve into a plastic ruler)


I then took the pieces over to my sewing machine, removed the thread and punched holes along the edges to be stitched. My theory was to make the holes and then handstitch the bag together. I would never get a neat machine stitch on this and I would struggle to push the hand sewing needle through the leather, so this was my way of mimmicking the bag kit that Tilly used.


 I used some thread to hold the bag together at certain points and to check that it would fit together ok...


Then proceeded to handstitch. By the time I got to this first corner my hands were sore. The holes I punched were still too small and only made it marginally easier. The stitches also looked pretty messy having gone back over this line to fill in the gaps and make it look like a machine stitch, so I decided to brave it on the machine. It was not possible to machine stitch it all, as I couldn't persuade the leather to flex enough to fit under the foot, so I stitched most of the straight edges and hand stitched the corners.


Even though I was using a childs thick cardboard book and a cotton reel to help push the needle through, my fingers are still really sore. If anyone can offer any leather sewing tips I would be very interested.


 I got some bag hardware (is that the correct term?) from Merchant and Mills with my last order, as this had been on my mind for a while, so had fun attaching the bag handle. I couldn't cut a strap piece long enough from the leather I had left, so cut it in two pieces punched some corresponding holes and screwed them together with these chicago screws. I also used these to attach the handle to the bag. So satisfying and no dodgy stitching required.


The front flap was originally curved at the corners, but I decided this looked strange somehow and tried to give it an envelope look. It now kind of looks like the back of a normal bag! To fasten the flap down I used these screw-in Sam Browns. Don't you just love this stuff? I could get hooked on using these little screws.




I punched holes for all these little bits with my leather punch, which was just from some cheapo hardware store many years ago. The holes on the front flap to push over the 'Sam Browns' have a slight slit cut at the top to expand the hole over (if that makes sense)


In all honesty, this is not the best thing I've ever made, but it's usable (and I will use it) and it's made use of something I never thought would come out of the stash, so I'm happy! It actually looks ok and a bit vintage, but if you were a stickler for neat stitches then the finish on this might drive you round the bend.I did have more photos to offer you of dodgy stitching and also what it looked like before I changed the shape of the front flap, but I seem to have deleted these ahead of time, so you'll just need to take my word for it!

So, if after all that you are interested in making a bag yourself then I have uploaded my template for you.

CLICK HERE FOR BAG TEMPLATE


20 comments:

helen siddon said...

That's bloody brilliant, looks like a grown up more stylish version of the satchel! I really love how you put your ideas into practice with such enthusiasm, you look lovely in the photos too btw! x ��

Marilla Walker said...

It's funny really having a blog, because now I get the joy of telling people about what I do all the time! Before I just would gave done this and not really told anyone, but this is much more fun! Thanks for the nice comment Hellen! Xxx

Crab and Bee said...

Inter-generational scrap-busting! I'm totally impressed and kind of don't believe you that your stitching is sub-par. Great design and color, too!

Sara said...

It's beautiful! I love the simple design with those golden screws. The thick leather sounds like it was hell to work with, but worth it in the end for such a great result. I hope you get a lot of wear out of it.

emily.marie said...

The bag is super cute and you did a great job of problem solving with it! I have a piece of leather that's probably about the same weight and the color of that adorable lion purse. :) I've tried to make a bag with it with limited success; I think that was because I didn't have any hardware for it and didn't know where to get it. Love the hardware you got! Maybe I'll look on Etsy, as M&M shipping to the U.S. is $$$$$.
Also, I stitched my bag with a sewing awl, made for handstitching thick fabrics and leather. I may have felt like I was going to stab myself with it a few times, but the stitching ended up looking pretty professional. I am definitely going to use your sewing machine hole punch method next time, very smart!

Scruffybadger said...

Wow I'm so impressed! I've never sewn leather but I can totally relate to how hard it must be to work with....
Your bag though looks great, like you say there's a real vintage vibe about it, the colour is awesome, and how great that it's leather from your dad. Still what remains for me is an image of you hand stitching with a child's book and a cotton reel.... There must be some hardware for your hands as well as special needles, mustn't there?!

fabrickated.com said...

It's a great looking bag. I think it needs holes punching in it really before you try and push a needle through - there must be an instrument for this. Maybe a hammer and nail? For softer leather I have used a leather needle that has a kind of blade on it. Maybe the local cobbler could help?

Alice said...

Awesome! I love the color (especially with the stripy grey dress) and it looks quite professional to me. I've always thought sewing a bag would be kind of boring, but time to re-think that maybe.

Marilla Walker said...

Thanks for all the positivity guys! I think I'll actually do some research next time and get more appropriate tools!

Emily Marie - I am very jealous if you have bright yellow leather. I would be cutting that up like a shot!

JustSew Jenna said...

This is more amazing than I can articulate!! I love it, did your dad really have a red leather apron or did I read that wrong?? I don't know about leather working but I know there are things that go on your hands for sailmaking, like leather straps with a hard bit in for pushing the needle in - I don't know what they're called though.

Marilla Walker said...

Yes, my Dad really did make a red apron! He just bought the cheapest bit of leather I think. I seem to remember he paid about £10, but could be wrong. Bit of a bargain really! The straps on hands thing sounds good and I imagine doesn't prevent the ability to still pull the needle through.

Stephanie said...

This is really cool and I love that your dad gave you the leather! The only time I have worked with leather was years ago. I used to sew leather collars and patches on jackets I picked up at second-hand, though as I recall I did this all by hand and with great pain! There definitely must be a better way. Great job. I admire the aplomb with which you tackle these projects!

Roy Freemantle said...

Mum here! Your bag looks lovely, clever girl. Dad is so proud to see that you have remembered the leather! Actually like the bag, better than the one featured on Tilly's Blog.....because you made it from scratch and not from a kit!

Bellbird said...

Wow it looks really really great! My hands are hurting at the thought of sewing such tough leather. My dad used to do a lot of leather hand sewing, and I seem to recall him having an awl/needle hybrid that also threads for you, like Emily mentioned. I think it's called a speedy stitcher? Could be worth investing!

Marilla Walker said...

Thanks mum, I'm sure you have no bias towards my creations what so ever! X

JustSew Jenna said...

found something: http://www.solentsew.co.uk/products/Sailmaker's-Palm.html

Tassadit Rue des Renards said...

Wow, it's gorgeous! I love the colour! On another note, I was certain I was following your blog on Bloglovin but apparently I was wrong… I've remedied that now!

Marilla Walker said...

Ah, thanks for the follow! I'm sure that you are more than capable of a bag seeings as you can make shoes! Really wish I had shoes skills. Thanks for the compliment you talented lady! X

Anonymous said...

I looks really gorgeous! How lucky you are to have got hold of leather off cuts ;) I am also planning on making a clutch with leather but I have so many other crafts going on...

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