Possibles Bag

Here is an update on the most recent possibles bag I have been working on:

The buffed leather reflects a lot more than I realized while photographing.

Sorry the photos aren’t so great but here is the description: Made from 7 oz (~3 mm) Hermann-Oak full-grain harness leather top dyed and antiqued Fiebings medium brown with a single patch pocket inside. It still needs a little edge detailing, waxing and buffing before it is truly done but that will happen later today.

The interior is natural but will darken with use and waxing.

Rustic, laced construction, unlined, 18th century “English-style” bag.  The main pocket is 8 x 8 inches (1.5 litre in volume), while the overall body length is about 12 inches. 

The edges are all burnished for a smooth and comfortable feel in hand. The thick oak-tanned will soften with time and use.

The eared shape is to keep the bag from riding around to the front or back of the torso during use. This leather will age nicely and will last longer than any of us with normal rugged use. 

All sewing is double needle free-hand saddle stitch.

1 1/4″-wide strap extends to about 56″ to fit the most well-padded or heavily coated hunter. Going out for trade in the next couple days.

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A Leather Purse and Wallet

Here is a shop update on a couple of the many leatherworking projects undertaken lately.   I decided to use up all the leather I have been storing and put it to good use.  I have about 100 projects I’d like to make for myself but the Yule season is coming, gifts are expected in many quarters, and we have an invite to show our wares at a local crafts fair.  So, without further fanfare…

A waxed leather bucket-style purse. I hear these are the rage in certain groups now. I remember seeing many in this style back in the 1980s coming out of Morocco and Spain.

And I decided to make a few bomb-proof wallets of various designs to go with it.

A surprising amount of work can go into even a relatively small project like this.

Temporarily gluing the welt to the bottom.

Sizing the bottom to the side before sewing.

The exposed welt after sewing and turning the bag.

Marking and punching the holes. Tiresome for the hands.

Choosing an appropriate lining; strong and beautiful.

Drawstring added, holding the leather edge biding while sewing.

The ‘ears’ for holding the shoulder strap sewn on, strap attached, and it is done!

The antler toggle helps keep the bag secure and adds a bit of primitive flash.

Difficult to photograph, but the liner gives the bag some class and a feeling of “completeness.”

This is a new traveler’s wallet design. Three pockets, large capacity to hold money, cards, and passport.

This one might be a bit too small to hold a check book but not a lot of us carry those these days.

The button stud is a favorite closure of mine as it is simple and effective without the need for a large hole.

After a quick buffing, the wax shines up nicely. This one should last a lifetime.

Cavalry Saddlebags

It isn’t cheap to find good saddle bags these days but excellent ones can still be made with a little time and dedication.  The U.S. Army M-1924 model is the culmination of a century of design improvements and feedback from real field use.  This model, in one form or another, saw  service across the West, through multiple wars, the staking of trails and the migration of a people across a continent.  Being a government contract item the design specifications are readily available through the General Services Administration.

Complex leatherwork projects depend on good plans and these are above and beyond perfect.

The plans are printable and can be scaled or drafted into patterns to transfer to appropriate leather; latigo or veg tanned.  Click the image for a full-screen version. Clicking again should provide oversized, printable versions for easy use and reading.

Even if you don’t own a horse, this design works well equally on a motorcycle or scooter and add a touch of class in any case.  Mine ride on a Vespa Super Sport.  I’ll share the Quartermaster version when I get them loaded.

Some New Leatherwork

There are some new projects coming off the bench.Here’s a new minimalist traveler’s wallet.  I’m still working through the design and construction process but like it so far. Simple three-pocket design; a vertical a horizontal card pocket  as well as a large one for bills.

A bucket purse made from an oil-tanned leather.  Welted and bound with thin harness-grade bark tanned leather with a heavier leather shoulder strap.

I try to put some sort of bling into projects.  This is a historic heart design was cut freehand and balances the antler toggle on the other side.

Fully lined with a batik print my daughter bought for a skirt.

Welted bottom.

Making a Stitching Pony

I have needed a stitching pony for a long time now…

The two-hour stitching pony.

Like so many other undone projects, this one has been stirring around in my head for several years.  Since my efforts have been so focused on sewing leather lately, the time had come for a new and useful tool in the shop.  I’ve looked at plenty stitching horses and ponies over the years and even used a few n person so I understood the basics of what I needed and began eyeing up the scrap pile for obvious parts.

Not absolutely necessary, but it’s nice to be able to open the jaws fully.

I decided to keep the project simple, small, and portable while making as few purchases as possible.  I was able to gather up the lumber, leather, hinge, screws, glue, and tacks in just a few minutes and get to work.  Power tools make jobs like this easy so the boards were quickly ripped, cut, and clamped up to dry overnight.  A little cleanup in the morning yielded a working model suggesting a few minor changes.  The opening of the throat was widened by 1/2″and I decided a longer bolt would be useful for fat projects.

This meant a trip to the actual hardware store setting the project bill up to $1.07 with a total work time of about two hours.  We’re good to go…

More Wallets

Maybe this is a little mundane but I’ve been using the cold and snowy weather as an excuse to do some cutting and sewing of leather.  I completed a passport wallet and finished up another minimalist wallet design.  I got the pattern for the larger travel wallet from Tony, the owner/designer at DieselpunkRo.  He sells finished goods, patterns, and gives a lot of good advice for makers working from his patterns on his Facebook group page.

My three newest creations.

If you follow his Facebook group, he will occasionally share free, downloadable patterns.  I have two patterns from him so far and they are both great.

 

The large wallet is a handy, four pocket affair that snugly holds a standard passport, cards, and cash.

 

This is another good starter project that easily yields a great product.

We were acting like shut-ins today because of a surprise snow storm so I’ve been able to jump to another leather-related project.  I’ll share some photos soon.

Making a Minimalist Wallet

I try to live by the creed of learning and making something good every day.

The Minimalist Wallet

As we have been pondering the holiday season it seemed a good time to get a jump on some leatherworking projects I’ve had in mind the past few months.  This morning, before getting to work on other chores, I decided to take a little time and work out a slightly modified Minimalist Wallet.  If you have followed this blog for long, you may have seen a couple earlier wallet projects we shared HERE and HERE.  This isn’t a complicated project and might be a good one to start with if you trying your hand at leatherworking for the first time.

The All-Encompassing Symbol of the Age

Making the Pattern –

It would be pretty optimistic to just dive in and start cutting out a wallet without knowing what needs to fit.  I used a debit card for scale as there will inevitably be a couple of these in just about any modern traveler’s pocket.  I didn’t put a lot of time into the pattern as I have made a similar style before and knew the basics of what I wanted; essentially two pockets and very little sewing.

A Bit of Sloppy Origami to Test the Dimensions

To create two pockets, there needs to be three layers; two on the outside and one to divide.  To make the cards more accessible, the outer pocket will be a “reveal” and I chose to do this the simplest way possible, by a diagonal straight line.

Test Fitting and Trimming the Draft Pattern

I ended up tightening the width and lengthening the entirety just a bit from my original estimates for a better fit.  The difficult part is over.

The Draft is Transferred to Stiff Bristol Board for Multiple Uses

After the pattern is transferred to the card stock, it can be used many times without fuss.  It is a good idea to label your patterns before storage as they begin to look alike when you amass a large folder of them (was this a pocket, part of a shoe, some sort of handle cover?).

Getting Down to Business –

The next step is to cut out the pattern on appropriate leather.  I’m using Hermann Oak 1.5 mm tooling side that was leftover from an earlier project.  Neatness in cutting is very important as it will affect the look of the entire piece if the cuts are even a millimeter or two off or wavering in any way.  Since most people seem to prefer dark leathers for this sort of thing I chose to dye it Medium Brown with Fiebings Leather Dye.

Wet with Dye

After the dye sets you’re free to move on.  I started by marking and awling the stitching holes at about a 5 mm increment.  I will admit, this was not my straightest set of stitching lines ever.

Punching the Holes

I almost always use a double needle saddle stitch when sewing leather as it is the best and strongest choice in most cases.  I chose a contrasting thread to give it a fine finished look.

Finishing Up

And finally, the edges were dyed again and burnished to create a smooth, finished look.  Overall, I’m quite satisfied with the outcome.  This one will be the prototype to work from and I’ll be able to take a little more care now that I have learned from this one.  If I ever get around to making enough to sell, I’ll put them on my Etsy Store.

To view this project on Instructables, click the link here: Minimalist Wallet

I have a slightly more complex project laid out for later.  If I take the time to document it, I’ll post it up here.

Making a NATO-Style Watch Band

Taking a break from work to make something for myself…

I don’t wear a watch every day but when I do, I like it to be comfortable and not at all flashy.  I was never a fan of wearing a watch when I wasn’t working but having a crew who expect regular breaks and a lunch hour made sure I owned one most of my adult life.  Now we live in an era of cell phones with fancy clock features, timers, and alarms which makes the humble wrist watch an anachronism at barely 100 years old.

NATO Watch Strap

My inexpensive but excellently serviceable watch.

I don’t desire or need an expensive watch and have always considered them to be somewhat disposable.  I bang them up pretty badly so it is rare that I ever have one costing more than about $40.  If you’ve ever changed a modern band and don’t like to fidget around with the little pop-off axles that hold the strap on you should consider this simple and elegant design long-favored by the military.  A quick search on the internet will yield you plenty of cheap and interesting versions of this type and they can be changed in a matter of seconds.  It’s even fashionable to have several styles and interchange them regularly.  Imagine that… I’m a fashionista.

NATO style leather watch band

I made this one before dinner.

I considered making an extremely simple tutorial for this style but it is so incredibly simple, I think actual words would only confuse the matter.

NATO style leather watch band

Threaded onto the watch.

The real genius of this design is that it is a single belt that goes behind the watch, keeping the metal mostly off of the skin.  It should be clear from the photo above that there is really no trick to attaching it to the watch itself.  I have rather thick wrists, so I add about an inch and a half to my bands when I make them for a better fit.

NATO style leather watch band

Completed strap.

And finally (I know, you shouldn’t start a sentence with a conjunction but we all do it) you don’t have to even limit this design to leather.  You can make it from cotton or nylon flat webbing or could even branch out to making your own cloth band.  Just save back the buckles and keepers from any old watch and sew them to your own creation.

Time for me to get back to work.

 

Flacket – the other leather bottle

So, I hung my leather bottle over the wood stove one evening and awoke to find it very dried out and the wax, hitherto virtually invisible had run to the bottom then onto the hearth. While seeking out design ideas, I recalled the excellent tutorial from the Leatherworking Reverend from way down under. I hope he doesn’t mind the publicity as I am reposting his Flacket-style bottle design here. On my ever growing, rarely shrinking list of things to do!

The Reverend's Big Blog of Leather

A flacket is a type of leather flask or bottle made from only two pieces of leather, one for the front and one for the back. It has no base, but may additionally have a welt or gasket piece between the front and back. Depending on your cultural prejudices, these are sometimes also known as pumpkinseed- or pear-flasks.

Examples are few, pointing to it being an older design than those we more commonly see, such as costrels and the two- or three-piece leather bottels. Most of the surviving examples come from the Mary Rose (1545) and are regarded as among the last exemplars of the form. Accordingly, Baker is of little help other than on p59, remarking “Flasks (Flascones) as well as bottles are mentioned in Alfric’s Colloquy in the 10th century as being made by the shoe-wright…”

Designed mainly for upright use such as hanging on saddles…

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Make a Shop Apron

ApronsShop aprons are not as widely used as in the past.  I believe this is related to our modern view on clothing and how it has changed over the past century.  Not only are we training less in the trades, our clothes are ridiculously cheap in the modern world.  Low prices and availability keeps our incentive to protect them pretty low.  As I have reduced my quantity of clothing I have grown to appreciate the humble shop apron more than ever.  In the past, my only incentive was for protection when grinding metal or welding but now I begin to understand the real role a good apron can play in the shop.

A good shop apron can cost quite a bit of money ($40 – $100 or more) so I present the above catalog page as a starting point for construction.  Heavy canvas or leather are the obvious choices for material.  Although heavier, I prefer leather as is it is fireproof and offers some protection against cuts.  As for protection, here’s an image I found when looking for designs.  It’s from a Navy singlestick exercise.  Somehow the design seems familiar.

navysinglestickDSC_0003