After some time making belts, wallets, and coasters, I felt I needed to take another step, so I started to think in my first big leather project. I finally decided to make a classic and classy looking backpack, sober and functional, and of course hand made, and here is the result.
I am sorry I did not take photos of every step; I tried however to document as many as I could.
I will be happy to answer any question you might have.
Step 1: Planning, Provision of Supplies
I started by thinking the design and dimensions, first making some drawings, then scale paper models, and last with full size paper models in order to make a pattern
Then, went to my leather supplier, and found a nice full natural tanned cow leatherapproximately 2 mm thick (6-8 oz), and some furnitures, matched to strap size (I decided for 25mm, approximately 1 inch)
2 D rings
1 center bar buckle
2 spring hooks
2 center bar metal strap tensioner
Cutter of choice
Creasing, tool, grooving tool, stitck spacing tool, skiving tool
two stitching needles, and an awl
Leather threading (5 strands)
Step 2: Let's Start!
After careful planning and patterns, mark and cut all needed pieces
Approximate sizes are:
Upper body 50 cm by 45 cm, lower body 41 cm by 24cm
Sides are 31 by 15 cm, with one side a little shorter( 25 cm approcimately)
Straps are 60 cm long ande 2,5cm wide
Other pieces are the buckle straps, the shoulder straps cover and the D straps for the sides
After cutting, This is the moment I tanned the leather a little with some olive oil.
Then, prepare the sides (some skiving), groove, mark the spacing.
Step 3: Joining
I suggest first putting some contact cement in the borders to join, as instructed by the manufacturer, then press strongly, making sure that the alignment is right.
Then, poke some holes and stitch. (I Used a traditional saddle stitch but you can use whatever you prefer)
Stitching the straps D rings can be tricky, because there are 4 layers of leather, but if they are conveniently skived it is a possible thing to do.
Another tricky point is the corner. In my pattern, the front and the back are two separated pieces (Altohugh I originally thought of making it out of a single one) and the joint of side, front and back can be difficult as well
Just Make a small cut in the piece that will bend most, in order to make room for the rest
The zipper and back pocket is pre cut and glued to the upper back piece, then the stitches only go around the zipper, not the pocket.
Step 4: Other Stitching
After the bigger parts are joined, you have to put the buckle, and shoulder straps.
The most important aesthetic part in this step is to align them well, so the whole thing does not look crooked.
The other critical point is "structural": Stitches need to be the strongest, this is the point that will bear the greatest part of the load, so a matress stitch is a good choice.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
After It has been assembled, finish the borders (I only use sandpaper and saliva), darken it a bit, In case you prefer it darker, and enjoy!