How to make a leather satchel

Updated April 17, 2017

Satchels are small, briefcase-like bags worn with a shoulder strap. They are a convenient and popular way to carry books, laptops and other small items. If you buy a satchel, especially a leather one, in a store, you probably will end up paying a lot of money. However, the basic construction of a satchel is not difficult. You can make your own leather satchel with a minimum of time, expense and leatherworking experience.

Decide the size you want your completed satchel to be. Use a tape measure to determine the size of the largest item you will be likely to carry in it, and make the satchel at least an inch larger in all dimensions.

Find an appropriate leather for your satchel. Ideally, the leather should be about 1/8 of an inch thick and relatively soft, to make sewing and using the satchel easier. Look for leather that already has been dyed and treated, rather than using tooling leather, which will permanently show any marks left on it.

Cut out a large rectangle of leather with a craft knife. The length of this piece should be twice the width of your finished satchel, and the width of this piece should be three times the length of your finished satchel, plus its depth. This piece will form most of the satchel, so avoid including any thin or discoloured spots in the rectangle.

Cut out two identical leather rectangles, each as wide as the satchel's depth and as long as its length. These will be the sides of the satchel.

Lay the main piece flat with the side you want on the outside facing up. Lay one of the side pieces on top of it, outside-side down, and line it up with one of the corners so that the long edge of both pieces line up and the short edge of both pieces line up. Do the same with the other side piece, lining it up on the same short edge and the opposite long edge. Hold both side pieces in place with small bulldog clips.

Sew the long edge of one of the two side pieces to the long edge of the main piece using linen thread, moving the bulldog clips as needed and removing them when you finish. The pieces should still be lying flat against one another when you are done. Repeat this with the other side piece.

Pull one side piece up so that it is perpendicular with the main piece, then pull either short edge of the main piece up so that the short edge of the side piece lines up with the long edge of the main piece, forming a ninety-degree bend in the main piece. Binder clip these edges together and repeat with the other side piece.

Sew the short edges of the side pieces to the long edge of the main piece as before.

Fold the main piece over a second time to line up the exposed long edge of the side pieces with the long edge of the main piece, and binder clip the edges together.

Sew the long edges of the side pieces to the long edge of the main piece as before.

Turn the whole satchel inside-out. All of the sewn edges of the leather pieces should be pointing inward. The remaining unsewn portion of the main piece forms the top flap of the satchel.

Cut out a long leather rectangle about 2 inches wide. This will be the strap of the satchel, and it can be any length you want.

Sew the short edges of the strap to the outside upper portion of the side pieces of the satchel.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Leather
  • Craft knife
  • Small bulldog clips
  • Leather needles
  • Linen thread
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About the Author

Ryan Voss is a freelance writer/blogger and artist/graphic designer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His areas of specialty are current events, politics and the martial and fine arts. He has been freelancing in a variety of creative fields since 2005.