Make This:

Leather Shoulder Bag Part 1

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Leather bags are incredibly durable and the characteristics of leather allow for very different possibilities and design details from fabric. This is the first few steps for constructing this bag.

This is the first part (of 3) for the construction of the bag shown above.


I discussed the tools you need to work successfully with leather and a couple of stitches that will be very useful in yesterday’s post on basic leatherworking.  Now let’s apply those tools and skills to make a bag.  The pattern for the bag in this series is available for download here:
Leather Bag Pattern Download
Guide for Arranging Printed Pages 


Materials needed for this project:
– Leather for the shell (outside)
– Leather for the lining
– Fashion fabric
– 1/2″ buckles x 2
– Interfacing
– Basic set of leatherworking tools

Use a straight edge blade to cut out the pieces.  Create your stitching lines by marking starter holes in the leather.  The pattern download for this project already has the stitching holes evenly spaced and matched stitching lines for pieces that join.  If using that pattern, lay your leather pieces on top of cork boards, place the pattern piece on top of the leather and pin through each marked hole.  If using your own pattern, create a system to evenly space your stitches for best results.

Sew the lining together: 
Using the lacing sewing technique in the image below, sew the side pieces together and the lining bottom to the sides.

The finished lining should look something like this:

Begin construction on the bag shell (outside of the bag):
For the bag pattern used in this tutorial, the shell of the bag is constructed with wrong sides of the leather placed together and sewn in place.  This creates an exposed cut edge detail.  Sew the sides of the bag together and the bottom in place using a running stitch with a return fill.  Once the frame pieces are sewn together, they should look like this:

Before we put all the big pieces together we should assemble the smaller pieces like the strap, buckles, buckle catch, and handle.


The strap, buckle catch, and bag handle are all lined with fabric for support, style, and comfort.  The fabric is placed with the wrong side of the fabric to the back side of the leather, raw edges are tucked between the layers, and everything is sewn together using a running stitch with return fill.

The holes for the small buckle closures are created with a leather hole punch.  Test the punch on a scrap of leather to determine which size punch you need to use for best results.


Note: I added a decorative buckle to the bag strap which is not part of the pattern download.   Large buckles like that vary in size and you can adjust the strap width to match your chosen buckle.

Click here for the next part – putting the fabric sides in!