I needed a bag that could transport my laptop, a sweatshirt, and whatever I brought home with me from work/errands. I had used my old leather Kate Spade bag for about a decade and it was ready to be retired, so I drew up a list of requirements.
From there I was able to size out my laptop and a sweater using some Kodiak leather I picked up and was waiting to turn into a textured accessory. The laptop needed to fit in both directions so that the bag could expand to accommodate whatever my day’s errands demanded, so it ended up being a moderately large object.
I cut and pinned a rough pattern:
I wasn’t happy with it so I made a few adjustments (mostly making it smaller) and then cut a strap to the same length as the old Kate Spade bag, because I knew that fell in a pleasant place on my hip as I walked.
From there I tried a million different positions within the leather hide I have so that I could optimize for the least amount of waste leather and positioning to highlight the unique features in the leather, including a beautiful branding mark and square stretching marks from the tools that grip the side of a tanned hide while it is processed.
I used a saddle stitch the entire way around the bag because I wanted it to be durable and to support a heavy laptop + bag detritus. I took care to keep the hide well aligned during the punching process to eliminate gapping in this flexible oil-tanned Kodiak leather.
I am absolutely in love with the texture of this bag, which is hard to photograph. The magic comes in the way the leather changes color and tone with movement - stretched sections are lighter and evolve a patina where heavily used. This photo is slightly edited to try to convey the range of warmth this hide has to offer.
I tried a few methods of attaching a strap, and decided to mount reinforced panels creating thick loops around cast brass rings. I like the simplicity of this look.
The heavy folded leather and saddle stitching provides more than enough support for heavy loads, meaning this bag will stay comfortable and won’t deform. The positioning of the strap means that the bag will expand to fit whatever I need no matter which way a laptop is positioned inside, as it allows the top to naturally fold over the brand in order to stay as small as the load allows. This changes the look of the bag depending on how it is used, a feature I enjoy as well. The brand and fold line are visible here.
I’m very pleased with the way this bag turned out. I use it on a near daily basis and it is developing a lovely patina of scratches and stretch marks, which add further character.
I get a very Japanese Cowboy vibe from this bag, which I want to accentuate with a minimalist embroidery piece somewhere on it, to echo the shapes of Japanese text and tie in the stitching to the intentionality behind the bag. I might add something like you see here in the future.