How to Make Bota Bags

Written by joanna davidson
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With roots going back to ancient Spain, the bota bag is designed to hold wine and other liquids. The special lining of tree resin keeps the bag from leaking and insulates the liquid inside. Now hikers use bota bags to carry any liquid on their hiking trips. Although modern bota bags are still lined and leakproof, the lining is normally a latex material instead of tree resin.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tanned goatskin or other leather
  • Needle or sewing machine
  • Nylon or polyester upholstery weight thread
  • Nozzle

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  1. 1

    Cut two pieces of leather from a pattern. Most traditional bota bags are made from tanned and stretched goat skin that is close-cropped.

  2. 2

    Wet the leather and stitch the two pieces together keeping the fur side out. Stitches should be very close together with thread pulled tight to minimise leakage. Leave the horn-shaped opening at the top unstitched. Use a sewing machine or a leather-penetrating needle.

  3. 3

    Warm resin or tree sap till viscus and generously apply solution to the bag. For a modern-style bota bag, stitch a latex lining onto the entire bag except the opening.

  4. 4

    Turn the bag inside out when the lining is dry. Push the material through the mouth opening until it's completely reversed and the lining is on the inside.

  5. 5

    Attach a nozzle over the mouth opening to seal it. These can be purchased at craft stores. Keep the opening sealed around the edges of the nozzle.

  6. 6

    Blow into the bag to inflate it. Make sure the insides are not touching, especially if you are using a resin lining.

  7. 7

    Fill with water and then with inexpensive wine to cure the bag. This will remove any residual taste before the bag is used.

  8. 8

    Attach a cord along the hem line as a strap for carrying the bag. Use adhesive or light stitching to avoid puncturing the bag.

Tips and warnings

  • Beeswax helps the needle slide through leather.
  • For thicker leather, use a leather punch with a narrow needle to punch out needle holes.
  • Purchase leather that's already been tanned on websites specialising in goatskin or other leather.
  • Don't let the leather get too wet. This could ruin the leather or make the needle holes too large. Let it dry almost completely before working with it.
  • If leather bunches during sewing use a commercial grade sewing machine built to handle heavier materials.

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