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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Designing Bag Melba

One of my first accomplishments for 2013 was an unexpected one, creating my first leather bag from scratch, well almost from scratch.  My desire to do so came a few days before Christmas as I was walking though the airport with my worn-out canvas overnight bag, admiring everyone else (okay maybe not everyone) with they're cool carry-on bags of leather.  I've never invested in a nice overnight bag or duffle and I was sorely wishing I had.  At this point, I just told myself I had to go on a mission to find a good bag that could carry enough for a weekend and still look uber chic without breaking my piggy bank.  

Without much luck online, I decided that during one of my days in Chicago I would take a trip to the local Tandy leather store with my mom.  Tandy has multiple locations with a few on the west coast as well.  I wasn't sure that I was ready to commit to experimentally attempting to make my own bag until three hours later when I was walking out of the leather shop with a 160 dollar receipt, half a cow hide dyed a rich burgundy, black ostrich embossed leather and a bag of tools.  There was no turning back now.  
I started by creating a little blueprint with my measurements and then jumped strait into measuring and cutting.  Now usually it's a smart idea to create a pattern first, and although I skipped this step, I would recommend that route especially if you know you may want to make multiples.

Once I had all my pieces cut, I finished off the edges on the cow hide with Edge Kote and then began to start stitching.  For me this was the longest, patience testing process as I don't own an industrial sew machine to sew leather.  That meant EVERYTHING from the bag to the handles had to be stitched by hand.  

It was a labor of love to say the least!  That process involved measuring and creating a line to keep my stitch straight then pre-punching the leather with a 6-prong diamond punch to make the holes for the sewing.  I also used a 2-punch for corners and small spaces.  Then I threaded up my needle and got to stitching.  What felt like some 10 hours later, and thats not much of an exaggeration, I was finally done.  The next phase consisted of adding the studs, followed by the top flap, clasp, and sewing on the handles.  And voila! Bag Melba was born.

Here are some of my tools laid out:

-ruler with metal edge
-plastic mallet (don't use a hammer!)
-6 prong diamond punch
-2 prong diamond punch
-black waxed thread
-leather punch
-leather cement or flexible adhesive
-enamel (edgeKote)
-wool daubers for the enamel
-needle nose pliers
-heavy duty exacto knife
-sandpaper of a file for rough edges
AND of course your leather & embellishments.

Now I didn't line this bag, but I did add a small pocket inside for the small things, but lining is another thing to consider if you want a sleeker interior.  I on the other hand wanted my bag to have that simple, urban, maybe even masculine aesthetic.

It was a fun, rewarding project, and now I can't wait to use it on my next adventure!  If you would like more information regarding this bag or my designs you can send an email to

Hope you enjoyed my making of!


  1. It was a fun, rewarding project, and now I can't wait to use it on my next adventure! If you would like more information regarding this bag or my designs you can send an email to eco friendly carrier bags

  2. Anne Albrizio at The Fashion Institute NYC. He would like to also acknowledge his mentor Martin Izquierdo, who suggested that he study hat making and to Douglas Highsmith for supporting the brand for the past 20 years. design a carrier bag