My DIY saddle-stitched leather tote bag =)

diy-saddle-stitched-leather-tote-bag-front

DIY saddle-stitched leather tote bag (front details)

I first started doing the bag in November 25, and unsurprisingly, it took me a very long time to finish it. Aside from the lack of time to stitch, I kept on changing my mind on its details. Granted that it was designed with simple and clean lines, I must also be very sure with the details that I would add. If I were to carelessly apply contact cement, or worse, prick the leather with the awl and needle, I would automatically ruin it. Just like playing chess, it was touch-move. It is always easier to add hardware/details than remove them later on. So when I finally attached the hardware for the backpack-style, I know I can no longer have a change of heart.

The bag, as it is, is all ready to be used as either top-handle or as a backpack. However, one roadblock was my inability to decide on the design of the straps. I only have two dog snap buckles with me, and I needed two more. I also have to choose for an appropriately-colored canvas strap to sew in the leather and and the buckles. I am also half-sure on how to fold the sides in, to make it less broad and acceptable once I carry it as a sac-à-dos. I’m torn between sewing in magnets so they won’t be as obtrusive as the usual hardware; or I can add those pesky hardware behind the side-flaps thus making it possible to close them with a lock and/or attach straps for messenger-style. LOL

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The first cut is the hardest

The parts of the bag

The parts of the bag

Last Saturday night, I’ve spent several hours figuring out what my actual leather craft project would be. I thought hard and I was too afraid I’d ruin the skin that I had earnestly searched for. It did not help that looking at the hide, its odd shape just made me shudder more to think that it came from a real animal. I had to give the leather some justice. I even had to cut a pattern from paper and assemble the parts just to see if they would work once stitched up. This is where my imagination should work vividly because I cannot afford to mess up. When I finally put the cutter on top of the leather, I was careful not to make a mistake. It was a lot harder than I had originally expected because I was too paranoid. It took me until Sunday noon to finish the cutting of the parts, and when I was already done, I knew I cannot start stitching because my hands were a bit shaky from all the nervous cutting.

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I can taste the leather

Yes, that is a “White Chicks” reference. After the fiasco from the store I visited yesterday, I finally got around dropping by the other leather supplies shop I have been keeping tab for a long time. I had a doctor’s appointment again and after it was confirmed that I still have a mild dextroscoliosis, I walked all the way to the store. I thought that I was already ready to work from scratch.

Yesterday, I had a little saddle stitch practice with a thrifted leather belt, and I eventually got the technique. Although I’ve read Al Stohlman’s instructions several times, I still accidentally pierce my thread while pulling the second needle. It usually happens when I haven’t waxed the thread enough, or I was just not paying close attention to how I pull the first thread. By-the-book instruction mentions I should redo the stitch when it happens, but being the stubborn person that I was, I just cut the fiber and I end up with jagged thread on some parts. Here is how it looked from the pre-pierced belt:

Saddle stitch practice on a leather belt

Saddle stitch practice on a leather belt

The back of the belt. It does not look that bad, non?

The back of the belt. It does not look that bad, non?

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