Category Archives: custom orders

A Tall Bag

Sometimes, projects start from the oddest circumstances.

I had been working on a tote for B for a while, but she hadn’t gotten back to me about the length of the straps she preferred so that was stalled.

Then, I’d recently purchased a couple of bag claps and then there was this leather that I’d been saving up, and I didn’t have much planned for the day… So on a Sat morning, a new project was begun.

I kinda knew what I wanted to make: a larger version of the Big Clutch, but this time with straps, so that it would be workday-ready.

Straps. Pricked and ready for stitching. When you’ve a pair of straps to make, a pricking iron and good sound deadening are the two friends that will save your ass.

Clasp and strap stitched. I actually did the leather strip for the clasp twice because I suddenly decided to line the bag with pigskin. Yes kids, indecision will cost you dearly.

The leather is a waxed cow hide with a subtle grain. Glossy, but lovely to the touch. I’d liked the hide from the moment I’d seen it, and I’m glad that the design of the bag showed it off nicely.

The sewing itself didn’t take as long as I’d been bracing myself for. All in all, this bag took the weekend, from ‘staring into space’ phase to final clipping of loose thread ends.

Additional photos of the complete item follow.

An open view of the Tall Bag, shown with the first thing I could grab. In this case, a carved leather notebook from India.

A full view of it. The iPhone 4 gets a tad confused when there is too dominant a colour within the frame, which explains why it looks red here.

Overall dimensions: About 10in across, and 11in tall.

B likes it, so I guess it turned out pretty well.

 

Comments always welcome so say hi below.

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Handmade. No seriously.

The phrase “Handmade” sometimes gets a bad rep, especially when it comes to leather goods.

Is stuff sewn on a machine still handmade? To an extent, I suppose, if you count the machine as a very fast moving and accurate extension of your hand that never gets tired and doesn’t get callouses.

Let’s talk about this bag for example.

It’s a camera case I made for myself (ignore the snoozing dog doing a photobomb). Black veg-tanned Buffalo hide, with one main compartment that will, with dividers, hold 2 camera bodies and 1-2 lenses. Two side pockets and a front pocket complete it. Adjustable sling strap with a shoulder pad for comfort.

The thing is, cows seldom grow camera-bag-shaped. Yet, at least.

These were some of the parts that went into the bag. I was halfway through the first side pocket as you can see. The various straps had been pre-cut and burnished, but snaps, rivets and buckles had not been fitted yet.

The little holes that you see along the edges are the prick marks that would need to be hand-pricked and enlarged, and then sewn together.

So the entire process goes something like this:

  • settle down at the work space with a coffee
  • stare at a blank sheet of paper and start mentally working out how large the bag should be
  • start making design notes, including some truly terrible sketches with outside dimensions, pockets etc.
  • pick out the hardware that will be used. Yes, I recommend pre-planning EVERYTHING.
  • translate those terrible sketches into equally badly drawn cut-dimensions and try to group them to minimise leather waste
  • and all that has to happen before you do the cut, or clicking of the leather. Cut the leather. Or click. Whatever.
  • measure to make sure that your, erm, measurements aren’t off (Oh it happens. I’ve ended up with an additional inch of leather on one panel before. Much cursing resulted)
  • start marking and then pricking the stitch holes
  • plan your assembly. There is nothing more frustrating than to start off sewing the pieces together then realising that you actually should have sewn on this part first. Much more cursing will result should that occur
  • start sewing. I, like almost every other leather crafts person, would use a saddle-stitch. Part out of tradition, but mostly because there is no point trying to improve on what is probably the best stitching method for leather. Oh. Fun Fact: Saddle stitching can’t be done on a machine
  • sew some more. Look, there are only 24hrs in a day, and I have a day job and a needy dog alright
  • finally finish sewing, and then fit assorted buckles and snaps
  • burnish, wax and inspect
  • and you are done

All in all, this particular bag probably has about close to a thousand frickin stitches to be done by hand, and that isn’t particularly uncommon for a decently sized bag. I have the actual number scrawled on the plans somewhere but I’m not going to look it up.

And ladies and gentlemen, is what I, and other leather workers think of when we say handmade.

When you purchase an item with your hard earned money, the bulk of the cost isn’t all going into the cost of materials, but the workmanship that put it together. That is where your money goes. The final item isn’t going to be the cheapest thing around, but I’d daresay that it will be of a damn fair value.

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Because it’s a Leica right?

So this one stumped me for a bit.

A good friend asked for a lens cap holder to give as a gift to a Leica-owning relative.

First thought was “Whats wrong with pockets?” But, after a couple of failed attempts, including a visit to the Peninsular area to ask for the actual dimensions of a Leica lens cap (I’ve never bought one out of poverty and principle), this is the result.

Single piece of buffalo hide, stitched at the back and fastened with a snap.

Unlikely I’d ever make another since it is just so fiddly to do the stitching if you’re not a Hobbit. The bottle of Macallan in the background did not have anything to do with the slow pace of assembly.

Well, last I heard, the user was mighty pleased with it, and it now sits proudly on the strap of his M9.

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A large Clutch

Size matters a lot to women it seems.

It needs to be large enough to fit everything, yet not so large as to make movement cumbersome.

The Clutch.

Handmade from a single piece of veg-tanned Buffalo hide, the Clutch holds a wallet, a cellphone, and various other ‘girlie’ things.

Okay, that’s a Rollei 35 S inside, which isn’t a ‘girlie’ thing. It’s a serious photographic tool damnit. But yes, you get the picture.

Available here.

 

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Tote

B wants a tote. B gets a tote.

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This is the strap, mid-stitch.

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Mailman bag

We’ve always loved Mailman bags. Large, somewhat bulky, but when made with care, they will last pretty much forever.

This order came from a friend who wanted something he could tote about during the weekends. A father, he wanted something that could swallow the necessities of a weekend out with the kids, but not look like something out of Mothercare.

The leather is oil-tanned cow hide, with straps cut from veg-tanned Buffalo hide.

Handmade Jan 2012.

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