Leather Knapsack Prototype

Why do this?

In my life-long quest for better designs and finer gear, I am constantly on some sort of hare-brained mission to make something new.  Some readers may remember the earlier backpack I made and eventually traded off to a new owner.   My friend Jacob, even made a fine copy for himself and it now lives happily in Botswana, hopefully seeing many great adventures.

Snapshot of the pack, ready for waxing.

Leather and Brass? (or, what the hell were you thinking?)

One thing that can be said about real leather is that it will, barring some mishap, last a lifetime but eventually fade back into to earth, leaving little trace.  Leather is strong, wears well, is abrasion and heat-resistant, feels good to the touch, and cannot be beat for beauty.  While I considered antler for buckles, I decided to go with a slightly more modern closures and fasteners made from solid brass.  As I use antler in most of my creations, I chose to make a few well-shaped toggles as practical accents.

The downside? These materials are heavier than modern, lightweight materials but, for me, the trade-off is completely worth it.

It begins with the little things. There are many repetitive steps in large projects such as this.

This backpack started off as some daydreaming and sketches on graph paper sometime last November but other projects and commitments made me set it aside again and again.  This was good though; it allowed me to rethink the plans and make modifications as they occurred to me in the quiet hours of the night.

The harness system took some time, thought, and modelling before work could commence.

What were the design parameters?

Design is always the toughest part when creating something new.  I’ve been looking at handcrafted bags and packs for years so I’m sure there are a thousand images bouncing around inside my skull influencing the composition of this piece.  Honestly, choosing a size was the most puzzling part of all for me.  I’m a biggish guy and have a tendency to go big when I make gear so I was determined to keep this one reigned in.

Once the more difficult decisions were made, cutting and sewing could begin.

I already had a “look”  in mind and already decided on the construction technique.  Should it be a six panel body for easier layout or single panel around the body for a more seamless build?  Should it be sewn, laced, or riveted and what pockets does it need?  Will it be “turned” (seams hidden inside) or will the closings be visible?  Finally, where to begin construction?  We can’t close the body until the external sewing is done so pockets and straps were a good place to start.

Not long after getting most of the parts gathered and cut, I found myself wounded, with only one arm for practical use.  This slowed down sewing to a crawl.  What should take fifteen minutes took over two hours so this bag became an exercise in patience.

Still, I managed to make headway and the pack came together over several weeks.

A “turned” pocket freshly attached to the body.

Maybe not my prettiest stitching ever, but as it will be mine, and not for sale, I will still cherish every flaw.

Large pocket accessible with the main flap closed.

As a prototype, there were changes that must be made on the fly but overall I was happy with the design.

The shoulder straps were made to be replaceable without too much hassle and are long enough to accommodate a heavy coat in winter.

A carry handle was a heavy debate in my mind but makes a lot of sense for modern travel.

Each side has a slip pocket, tie down D rings and a compression strap at the top of the pack.

Bottoms up! I was able to place a scar in the hide on the bottom of the bag. The two rectangular patches are for blanket straps.

Details – brass rivets, antler toggles, and beautiful leather called for a heavy pillow ticking to serve as the liner.

Waiting to be packed for an adventure. I hope to get it waxed and outside later this week. Hopefully, I’ll get some photos of the new pack in use.

  Specifications:

  • Materials – 8 ounce veg tanned leather body, 4 – 5 ounce leather pockets, brass and antler
  • Height – 16 inches
  • Width – 12 inches
  • Depth – 6 inches
  • Weight – 5 pounds

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Selfies of your hand-made gear?

A Fun Little Fashion Project

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Here is a little Boho Chic bag made from a beautifully bark-tanned hide by Joe Brandl (#absarokajoe). It’s a bit outside my normal style but people have loved these bags over the years. Heading to the Oregon Country Fair, Burning Man, or just the beach? This is an accessory for you. Oh yeah, it makes a a great possibles bag too!

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Here’s my unapologetic SALES PITCH…

This hand-made bag was created by me and is adorned with a lunar crescent and four sea-shells collected on the Oregon coast. The leather is extremely soft to the touch and was tanned with an all natural process using the natural tannins from tree bark. It is double needle stitched with heavyweight hemp thread waxed with pure beeswax from another friend, Benjamin Pixie. The strap is a three-strand braid from the same hide and is very soft and supple.

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The crescent and shells are stitched with real buckskin (not commercially made) in keeping with the authenticity of this bag. It is the perfect size for a day in the wilderness, beach, or at a festival. It is beautiful enough to work as an everyday Bohemian purse in town. I have made several of these over the years and they have always been the envy in any crowd.  Wanna look like the coolest Shaman on the block?  This bag will get you there.

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The edge is bound for stiffness to hold its shape.

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Specifications:

  • Length – 7″ (17.75cm) long
  • Width –  5″ (12.75) wide
  • 4″ (10 cm) fringe
  • Strap length – 58″ (147 cm) to hang low on the hip

If you are looking for the perfect gift for the outdoorsy Lady or Gent, we are here to help you out.  Our new webstore will be filling up as we learn our way through the Matrix.  In the mean time, check us out at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LostWorldCrafts

U.S. Army Riding Gloves Pattern – free

In my internet sleuthing I have gathered literally thousands of images, plans, and patterns of things I would like to make or have for reference.  Government documents, like the scans below, are invaluable resources for the maker when they are made public.  Who would know how to better and more efficiently make a pair of riding gloves than the U.S. Cavalry.  This design is the culmination of more than 110 years in the business.

Click the pattern for the full-sized image. Scale to fit the dimensions shown for the standard sizing or scale them to fit your hand, be it a tiny little paw or oversized ham (note the three sizes on the pattern).

Part of the fun is learning the names of the parts; I had no idea there was even such a thing as a quirk in a glove.

I hope to get around to making a pair soon myself but please let me know if you have any success when you try these.  Thanks for reading and please click “Like” or leave a comment if you have one.

Making a Stitching Pony; Video Tutorial

Stitching Pony, Leather Worker’s Clamp, or Saddler’s Clam…

Whatever you call it, it is a handy device to own if you sew any leather.  These are simple devices that just about anyone can make with little time or money invested.  Although there are many varieties and models, the one shown in this tutorial by Harry Rogers of Bucklehurst Leather is the one I have most commonly seen.  Is there no end to this man’s skill and diversity of talents?

 

The only comments I really have are:

YES, the jaws should be lined with thick, smooth leather and that the gap is necessary to keep the jaws as flat as possible against the work.  It is also nice, but not necessary, to have a compression spring over the bolt to push the jaws apart when loosened.   And finally (terrible way to open a sentence in writing I know), a recent comment from a friend suggested that the tightening nut could be replaced and a better system be devised from a bicycle quick release axle.  Maybe on the next one.

Check out his leather work here:

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Art and Craft Fair

I would not have ever thought myself a craft fair kind of guy yet here we are…

A sneaky photo of the maker discovered this afternoon.

Last year, our local community center hosted an arts and craft fair as a way to bring local artisans together and raise money for public programs (art classes, GED education, computer skills, tax assistance, etc.).  Being new to the area we joined in last year and were invited back for a second go around last weekend.  It was a good cause and a way for us to make a little extra spending money for the holiday season.

Stacey’s jewelry, sewing, weaving, and holiday arts.

Times are tough and it seems that most people have little to spare on superfluous items this time of year.  Despite this, it was still a profitable venture and a portion of everyone’s proceeds went to a good cause.

Details…

Two very good outcomes from joining in this effort were:

  1. Forcing us to buckle down and finish a load of projects in a very short period and
  2. Putting us in touch with a lot of local makers we may not have met otherwise.

There are some very talented people out there and it is often difficult for them to show their work. Venues like this allow the small, part-time players like us to showcase some of what we do.  Now, as a primitive tech artist, I steered myself more toward items that were affordable and would appeal to the average person; especially someone looking for gifts appropriate for the holidays.  I even brought a few walnut cutting boards as they are fairly popular gifts.

Painters, printers, writers, jewelers, and even wonderful candy and jam makers were there and we a grateful for the opportunity to participate again this year.

I thought I’d share a few bench photos leading up to the fair.

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.

Ghillie Shoe Commission

A while ago I received a request to make a pair of carbatinae (ghillie shoes) for a reenactor.  It was the first time I have done this long-distance without being able to measure the foot directly.  Luckily, we had good communication and I had a shoe last in his size so with these factors and the fact that this style is a fairly forgiving fit, I was able to create something he was happy with.

Being constructed from 12 oz Hermann-Oak harness leather, these should last for a very long time if not worn extensively on wet concrete.

I really love the simplicity of this design and continue to learn and modify my technique with each new pair.  With high quality commercially tanned leather, they can’t be made particularly cheap, but with high quality materials you certainly get what you pay for.

Very little sewing makes this shoe a fairly quick project to complete once the cutting is done.

This was the first time I used a last to make this type shoe but it was a big help in the forming stage.

Setting the pattern and cutting them out is most of the battle.

Once they’re broken in, they fit your foot like a leather stocking, allowing for a barefoot, but well-protected feel.  I certainly like this shoe.