I recently jumped out of my shoes with gusto for the chance to work with the Leather Hide Store and a large piece of remnant upholstery leather. After I stopped hyperventilating and finished my happy-leather-dance, I settled on the remnant labeled B17–a supple, rich caramel hide with lots of depth and variation. When it arrived and I finished wallowing around on it (that happened), I decided it was just about the prettiest thing I’d ever wallowed around on. The only trouble was deciding on what to make! At first I was thinking I’d upholster these chairs with it, and then I was almost settled on making a gorgeous pouf ottoman. But then I remembered to listen to my heart, and it was reminding me how long I’ve pined for a leather bag I could carry around when I’m sans kids. Also, I wanted to get the most out of my hide, so I could also make the chic new diaper bag I’ve been dreaming of (currently in the works), the tablet cover my husband wanted (finished and he loves it!), and various other things my heart was telling me I needed to make like a wrap clutch and dop kit. I’m planning on blogging them all, so bug me about them if I don’t. And hey! You can have your own gorgeous hide to wallow around in! The Leather Hide Store is super awesome and nice and is giving one of my cool readers $50 to their store, so keep reading to find out how to enter, which you should DEFINITELY do.
There were lots of leather bags that I considered, but I landed on this minimalist tote by Renske Solkesz featured on Design Sponge, because it was simple yet completely amazing, and it was a free pattern to boot. It was a thrilling project to sew, one of those times when every step is so pretty and pleasing and satisfying that you want to just throw it a party. I had to make several modifications to make it work for leather, as well as add some additional features to suite my needs. I added a zipper pocket on one side, and a patch pocket adorned with rivets on the other, and to me they really make the bag. The patch pocket especially has proved to be so handy for sliding in my phone and keys. To me the rivets and grommets make it look so polished and not-homemade, but don’t be fooled, this is super simple sewing.
I love the way the angular tabs fits into each other; because of the body of the leather it doesn’t close by itself when the strap is pulled, but I like the way it looks up, so that’s not an issue for me.
I likewise added a zipper pocket and patch pocket to the inside lining for chapstick, phone, whatever. Never can have enough pockets, can we?
To read more about how make your own tote and enter the sweet giveaway, read on!
First of all, this pattern (found in the comments when you click on the pattern link) isn’t one where you print it out, tape it together and cut it out. It’s more of a guideline to draft your own. Here are my measurement modifications. I shortened the length to 27″ because it looked a little long and skinny to me. And since it was all in centimeters, I drafted it in nice round inches just so it would be easier to measure out. Then, because this is leather and there won’t be any seam allowance along the top tabs, I cut a centimeter off the tabs, which results in there being a centimeter of seam allowance on the sides with the tabs (see my written notes on the pattern and then the cut leather).
I also cut out the corners that would be snipped off the boxed bottom, because it reduced bulk and made it easier to be precise. To do that I folded the bag in half, matching the top corners, then snipped 1″ up from the bottom folded edge, and 1″+1 centimeter out from the sides. At this stage I added the zipper pocket and patch pocket to the leather. My patch pocket measures 6.25″ X 6.5″ and is placed just under 2.75″ down from the straight top edge. Add your rivets here, I found my brass rivets at Tandy’s leather along with their tools, and I got mine too long so I had to trim them down just a bit with some wire cutters so they would fit nice and tight.
For the zipper pouch I just made a zippered pocket, and then carefully cut a rectangle from the leather and placed my pocket underneath and top stitched, you must do to that before you sew the back of your pocket on so that it remains open. Add a long pull tab, and just a bit of all purpose glue to secure the pull tab together with a small length of leather. For the lining you want only the top 2.5″ or so to be of a contrasting leather, and the rest a heavy weight linen or canvas. Block your pattern about 2.5″ down and then make sure to add seam allowances on both sides. Sew the side seams of the top tabs right sides together, and then the side seams of the bag lining, leaving an opening for turning. Sew the boxed bottoms together,
Make sure to top stitch your side seams open, and then sew your turning hole closed. Now sew the side seams of your leather main together, I found these clips and a bit of all purpose glue (or rubber cement I’ve heard!) on the corners to be the ticket to perfectly matched seams and no sliding.
Top stitch the side seams open, this involves a lot of scrunching of the leather to fit the bag on your machine, you can do it!
Then just sew those boxed corners up, and you’re almost done.
Now slip your lining into the bag main, WRONG sides together, and carefully clip and glue the top tabs together matching as closely as you can.
Don’t forget to trim the corners from your seam allowances to reduce bulk! Once you have the main and lining aligned, carefully stitch an 1/8″ from the raw edges.
You’re on the home stretch now. Make a strap by cutting two lengths of leather measuring 1/2″ X 43″ (shorter or longer to your preferences), and then sandwhich right sides together and top stitch around all sides.
Now for the cream. Add grommets to the center of your tabs. In her pattern she calls for eyelets, but I found grommets to be much more sturdy and suited for leather. I found the large half inch grommets along with the tools at Lowe’s. Be more careful than I was! I smashed my finger and gave myself a blood blister…
Oh, how I love this little bag, it’s just what my heart was telling me I needed! I still have TONS of leather left from my remnant, and I’m super pumped to finish my other planned projects. I’m going to swimming in posh leather goods by the time I’m through!
And for as you friends, what would you do with some delicious upholstery leather??