For the past few months I’ve been making several small pouches while I work out a design I am satisfied with. I’ve had a handful of personal requirements – from ease of creation in terms of pattern pieces and amount of hand stitching to being able to hold up to the elements and securely hold contents. As a bonus I’ve been wishing to have something that can be attached many different ways to belts, straps, handles, or even other bags, and wished for something that allowed for customized tooled designs.
I think I have it, and as a rather rare treat I managed to take some photos of the process!
First off is the sketching and pre-planning. I’ve have likely 80% of my sketchbooks done up in this way, from one off creations to things I’ve re-used enough to make templates and solid patterns for.
Since this is a trial run I just make a small pattern out of recycled shipping paper. Half the time this paper is even just the covering from new sides of leather, but I also use it as a workbench covering for the painting / airbrush station since it’s cheap and available. Here I am just testing how it looks in 3-d with a random pouch inside to give it definition.
Again since this is a trial run I’m not using my best leather for it, I have some spare stuff around for both smaller projects and things that don’t need the fanciest of leather. I’ve cut this from a middle grade 6-7oz vegetable tan, and have already started cleaning up the edges and soaked it to prepare for the design.
I’ve traced the pattern and am just sketching up a quick design. Not at all my best work but I wanted to do this all in a day and the leather was already casing – about 30 minutes work to get this sketch done in a vaguely sheridan style.
After transferring the design to the leather, here I have cut the outlines.
And about an hour later it is tooled. On most projects I would oil the leather and let it sit overnight before moving on, but with the rush and uncertainty that this will work, I pressed onward!
I did a base tan colour with the airbrush, with it darkening on the edges and did some more detail work with the green and red/pink – again all with the airbrush. Much of the time I’ll resort to paint brushing the details in but I wished to see if I could adequately do this without having much over-spray. Seems to have worked. After letting it sit, I sealed it in with resolene, and waited a bit longer before rubbing the surface over with a tan antique, which gives all the detail in the impressions the pop that it needs to stand out. Lastly once that has dried I go over the entire surface with another coat of finish.
After a bit of guess work and math and some struggle I’ve got the bag part ready to go. I opted to hide the stitch lines by keeping them on the inside – this makes for a lot of cursing once I near the end and struggle to have space to saddle-stitch, but I like the aesthetic. The bag is a different kind of leather than I typically wish to use, and I’m keeping an eye on things as it may discolour the vegetable tan on the inside, but again, as a prototype I’m wishing to test all the things I can so I can be sure things are of a high enough quality to last many years.
And here is the final work, a shot of the inside and a shot of the outside. It can attach to belts, can be secured with a thigh strap, or can be used as a purse with across body straps or with backpack style straps or a shortened under the shoulder strap. It’s not terribly large, but this has the advantage of reducing bulk for when it’s worn on a belt.