How to Make a Leather Bag: A Comprehensive Guide

Leather is an incredibly versatile material. People use it to make a multitude of beautiful, durable things — from stylish clothing to shoes to virtually indestructible luggage, among many other items. In this blog post, you’ll learn the fundamentals of leatherwork by crafting your own custom leather bag.

Three people are standing, showing off their DIY leather bags which are black, blue, and brown. All three people are smiling.

Why Choose Leather for Your DIY Bag?

Leather has a long and fascinating history. It has been valued for centuries due to its durability, versatility, and timeless appeal. The material has been used in a wide variety of ways, from bookbinding in ancient times to setting fashion trends with a nice leather jacket.

When you make a leather bag, you are creating a piece that can last a lifetime. (Make sure to check out our blog on how to properly care for your leather goods.) Whether you’re a seasoned crafter or just getting started, working with leather is a rewarding experience that allows you to create functional art. Here’s how to get started!

Materials and Tools Needed

Before diving into the steps, it’s essential to gather the necessary materials and tools:

  • High-quality leather for the bag sides
  • Straps (in matching or contrasting colors)
  • Cutting tools (high quality shears, rotary cutter, or craft knife)
  • Burnishing tools
  • Rivets and rivet setters
  • Bevelers and dies
  • Anvils
  • Industrial-grade sewing machine (such as Sailrite Sewing Machine)
  • Punches

Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Leather Bag

  1. Choosing Your Leather
    Begin by selecting the leather for your bag. We recommend chrome tanned leather in 3-4 oz weight for the sides.  Consider the color and texture that best suits your style. High-quality leather ensures durability and a professional finish.
  2. Cutting the Leather
    Measure and cut the leather to the desired dimensions of your bag.  We recommend using a scratch awl to mark your cut lines.  Precision is key, so take your time to ensure accurate cuts.  Now is when you should mark and punch holes for the rivets that will attach your bag to the straps.  
  3. Preparing the Straps
    Select the color for your bag’s straps and cut them to the perfect length. We recommend 6-7 oz veg tanned leather.  Ensure they are long enough to comfortably carry the bag over your shoulder or in your hand.
  4. Burnishing the Edges
    Burnishing the edges of the leather pieces helps to smooth and seal them, giving your bag a polished look. There are lots of different tools you can use for burnishing, from a simple wood burnishing slicker to an electric motor-driven burnishing tool (recommended if you have a lot of burnishing to do!)
  5. Riveting
    Attach the straps to the main body of the bag using rivets. This not only secures the straps but also adds a decorative element to your bag. Use a rivet setter and anvil to ensure the rivets are properly set.
  6. Sewing the Bag
    Use an industrial-grade sewing machine to stitch the pieces together. The Sailrite Sewing Machine is a great option for this task, as it can handle thick leather and provide strong, durable stitches.
  7. Final Touches
    Inspect your bag for any loose threads or imperfections. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure your bag is sturdy and looks professional.
Four people smile in a workshop after making leather bags. They are holding up purple, green, black, gray, and light blue leather bags.

Caring for your DIY Leather Bag

To ensure the longevity of your new bag, follow these care tips:

  • Keep it dry and avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight.
  • Clean it regularly with a damp cloth and leather conditioner. Check out our blog on how to care for your leather products.
  • Store it in a cool, dry place when not in use.

Learn with the Experts: Join our Workshop in Brooklyn!

If you’re interested in learning how to make a leather bag from scratch with hands-on guidance, consider joining our live workshops where you can make your own leather bag. Here are the details:

What You’ll Be Making: A handcrafted leather bag approximately 13″x11″x5″.

What You’ll Be Doing: Using specialized leather craft tools including punches, rivet setters, anvils, and an industrial-grade sewing machine.

Skill Level: Beginner — no previous experience is required!

Class Time/Length: Sunday afternoons, 4 hours

Class size: 8-10 people

Workshop Highlights

Expert Instructors: Our knowledgeable instructors will guide you through each step of the process.

Quality Materials: We provide a large selection of high-quality material and all the necessary tools.

Hands-On Learning: Gain practical experience and create a beautiful, functional leather bag.

Sign Up Today!

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn a valuable skill and create something truly unique. Register for our leatherwork workshop and take the first step towards mastering the art of leathercraft.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll not only have a stunning leather bag to show off but also the skills and confidence to embark on future leatherworking projects. 

Crafting a leather bag is a fulfilling and creative endeavor. Whether you choose to learn on your own or join our workshop, the experience will leave you with a deeper appreciation for this timeless craft. Happy crafting!

Interested in Joining our DIY Workshop and Intro to Leatherworking?