Summer of Dreams [4] – Building a Bag Part 4

Finished. I didn’t know anything about making stuff out of leather and I wanted a backpack so I decided to make one. When I got into this craft I really planned to make a business out of it. I wouldn’t mind it as a source of income, but much further from that than I anticipated. For now I’m just fascinated by the complexity and challenge of it. I’ve made more items since this bag and I can say now that there is a very different type of skill required to make large “garment” like items compared to the more typical stuff like wallets and cases. There are so many challenges with measuring, layout and construction that simply don’t exist with smaller stuff. The small stuff requires precision and careful finishing and while there were aspects of this bag that I finished nicely (like the straps) the majority of it is left rough. I wanted it to look rugged and avoid that stereotypical smooth, clean look of many quality leather items. I like the way it turned out both aesthetically and functionally, though both areas could be improved with a few key changes, which I cover in the video.

Making a bag like this has opened my eyes to how impressive some of the items are that we buy on a regular basis without thinking. This bag cost about $250 in materials and it had probably 50+ hours of work in it. Now, I’m an amateur and I take longer to do everything, but this type of thing takes a lot of time no matter your level of skill. You will probably never find a hand stitched full grain leather bag just sitting around at a good price. Think about hand made goods like designer bags for example it costs those crazy premiums at least in part due to the craftsmanship and materials required. When I was doing research and planning for this project I came across a number of similar items selling at the price I spent on materials alone. I have to be skeptical. Of course, I don’t buy wholesale material and I could have optimized square footage better, but I still have to wonder what you are actually buying when claims are made about the craftsmanship and materials and the item is surprisingly affordable. Maybe some people out there make stuff for the love of it and take a loss selling. Or maybe there are people out there using lower grade materials or mass production machines or both and claiming they aren’t. Either way, the feeling of having made this and knowing the intimate details of it make using it very special. I look forward to using it for many years and maybe even making more like it. Improved of course.

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