Sporty Leather Messenger Bag

Leather messenger bagI was talking about leather bags with Tony, and mentioned how I was looking for a good sized leather messenger bag – one big enough to handle an iPad, some books, and A4 folders. He offered to make one up, and I filmed it from beginning to end. One things is for sure. There is much, much more involved on making a bag than what you can see on the surface. It wasn’t until we were well into the bag that Tony told me he was making this design as he went along. That was shortly after some stitches had to be pulled out to accommodate a change in plans, when Tony said “The prototype is always trouble, but the second one goes much easier.”

OK…got it.

This bag is the result of several drawings, and some redrawings. You don’t immediately see the liner, with the zippered pockets. Nor do you see the zippers, the support fabric underneath, the support material so the back will stand firm even when empty, or the steel rods that enable the bag to snap back into shape each time it’s used. You can see, but might not notice the various edge linings, and details on the strap. Many of the things that go into making a bag are only noticed if they are not there. Even if one doesn’t notice the lack of a proper edge, for example, the subconscious will pick up on it, and the bag will be perceived as rough or unfinished in some indefinable way.

This process will be released as a DVD, warts and all. Why? Because it’s one thing to watch an instructional DVD when steps A to Z in perfect order, and then find that when you do it yourself, it’s more like A,B,C,D and then back to C again. Then D,E,F,G,H,Q,I,J,K…. and then you’ve noticed that Q probably should have come later, like after P. And that maybe K shouldn’t have been there at all, and instead you would like to have a second J. Yet, in the end, a bag gets made.

It’s helpful to see the whole process, with the mistakes included, so you’ll get a sense of what it’s like to do something like this on your own – and it will hopefully encourage you when you get frustrated by something that needs redoing.

Does that make sense?

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The Man Bag

Man BagSometimes it takes a long time for a thing to acquire a name. There are concepts and even material things that affect us every day of our lives, yet go without an agreed-upon name. The reason is that the names are to wordy, not memorable enough, not descriptive enough, or just not right.

Forgive me. I write, so I think about these things.

Almost 30 years ago, when I was just a naive kid fresh out of college in Michigan, I embarked on a round the world tour with $600 and a one-way ticket to London in my pocket. Even back then, $600 wasn’t all that much. When I ran out of money, I was in a place on the Egypt-facing coast of Crete, in Greece. It was half fishing village, half beach hangout for backpackers. All said, it was a pretty nice place to run out of money in – and maybe still is.  A huge plate of sauted shrimp cost about a dollar, we could sleep quite happily on the beach, and bath in a stream that fed the beach from snow covered mountains behind us. And the place was clothing optional, which was a big deal for me, because most of Michigan wasn’t.

One of the reasons my money disappeared was that I had bought a bag in Italy. I wanted something to carry my valuables in besides a weighty backpack. That shoulder bag stayed with me throughout almost an entire year of backpacking, and started me on the bag carrying habit for the rest of my life. I disdained the bulging wallet impression on most guys’ back pockets, and I loved the convenience of having all the stuff I might need with me at all times. That, and the habit of drinking iced-coffee, came back to the Midwest with me.

Eventually, the US caught up. It took a while. European and Japanese men have been carrying bags for a while, but there has not been a commonly accepted English word for them. “Men’s purse,” “shoulder bag,” “tote bag…” none of it stuck. Finally, it seems, we have “man bag.”

Now, if you’re still with me, I’ll talk a little about the Leathercraft Studio man bag. We have been working on one for a while here, and filming. I wanted either a black or chocolate color bag – something dark and stylish. Tony came up with some great chocolate brown leather (I read somewhere that brown is the new black, but that was almost a year ago now. It’s probably already the old black.) We put together a nice mock up of a bag, and filmed it. But the problem is, the stitching and details on the dark leather just don’t come out well on the video. So, for instructional purposes, we are back to the natural light tan leather. Whether you want to run with that color or not, it’s ideal for showing what we are doing. And the technique works whatever color you have.

I’ll slap a few pictures up, so you can see what we mean.

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