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How to make a leather 'messenger style' bag

My Leather Bag Project

Last weekend I attended an art festival in Palm Beach Gardens and I fell in love with the handcrafted leather handbags and totes form Sulay Rodriquez. I wanted them all, but alas, my budget did not lend itself to such a purchase. Since I had some 'scrap' leather in my fabric stash - I got several pieces of leather (about 10 lbs) for $20.00 a few years ago when a local leather furniture store was going out of business. [caption id="attachment_1010" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="My leather bag"][/caption] Here is my attempt - not as elegant as the ones I saw at the show, but I had a great time making it. And here is how I made it. Supplies
  • Leather
  • Leather punch tool
  • Awl
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Thread
  • Embellishments - large jump rings, beads, crystals.
  • Magnetic Snaps
My Process.
  1. Cut a piece of leather to the desired size. Mine is 18.5" x 10.5".
  2. Cut 2 strips of leather for the strap. Mine is 1.5" x  30 - I like a long strap. If you are using a thick/sturdy piece of leather, you will need only 1 piece for the strap.
  3. Cut a piece of leather about 3.5" x 4.5" for the outside pocket. I like having my cell phone in an outside pocket for easy access.
  4. Fold the bottom piece of the leather about 3/4 of the way up - leaving a portion for the flap. This part is up to you - depending on whether you like a deep or shallow bag.
  5. Following the manufactures instructions, attach the magnetic snaps to the bag. I find it was easier to add the snaps before assembling the bag. Be careful to measure for the precise location of your snaps.
  6. Glue the sides of the bag and let it dry.
  7. Glue the outside pocket in the desired location.
  8. If you are using the 2 strips method for your straps, glue both pieces together - ugly side facing in - the glue goes on the ugly side.
  9. Once the glue has dried, use your leather punch tool to punch holes along the side of the bag as well as along the sides of the straps. Punch the holes about 1/2" apart.
  10. Use your awl to punch the holes for the pocket. I placed a piece cardboard inside the bag so that I did not damage it while I was punching the holes for the pockets.
  11. Whip stitch the sides of the bag as well as the straps.
  12. Use a running stitch to secure the the pocket to the bag.
And there you have it - your very own leather messenger style bag. [caption id="attachment_1013" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Opened Bag"][/caption] To add the strap, cut 2 strips of leather about 1/2" wide by 1.5" long. loop the leather through a large O/jump ring, fold in half and stitch it to the backside of the bag. Loop the strap through the jump ring and stitch securely. Or you may stitch the strap directly to the bag. [caption id="attachment_1014" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Closed bag"][/caption] I added some beads to make the bag more festive. If my instructions are unclear, please feel free to email me with questions. xoxo Al

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