A woodsman can never have enough bags! If you need a pouch for your headlight, fire lighting kit or cooking pot this is an easy, efficient way to make one.
It requires very little sewing skill and provides great satisfaction. All you need is some leather or hide, a needle, thread, ruler and a sharp knife.
Step 1: First determine how big you want your bag to be, this is mainly dictated by the size of your hide. I had a rabbit hide to use and decided on a 12 cm by 12 cm bag with a 6 cm flap as a lid. This meant I needed a 30 cm long section of hide and at least 12 cm across. The pattern below shows the shape of the bag, designed to minimise sewing by folding the material in half, along the solid line in the middle, to create the bottom seam, meaning only the sides must be stitched.
Step 2: Measure the outline of the bag onto your leather. I used a pencil to create the outline, do this on the side of the leather you want to be the inside, so that the markings won’t be visible.
Step 3: Cut the along the lines you drew. Resting the blade of the knife against a straight edge like a ruler helps to cut true to the lines and having straight edges will make hole punching much easier.
Step 4: Now you have your leather in the right shape draw on a middle line for where the fold will run and draw on where the lid of the bag is. This is so you know where your holes need to stop. I made my lid 6cm which seems to work just fine.
Step 5: Punch holes all down the sides, I punch through both pieces at once to help my holes line up. They should be at as regular intervals as possible, but don’t be too concerned with spacing them perfectly even. It’s more important that your holes line up in both pieces of leather to ensure the final product is square when sewn and not at an odd angle.
Now is also a good time to punch in your button holes and the holes for the toggle. The button holes should sit just outside the edge of your lid, so my lid was 6cm long I made my button about 6.5-7cm deep into the centre of the bag. The plans should make this much clearer to visualize. You can also wait to do this if you are unsure.
Step 6: Begin sewing your sides up. I use a big sail needle to stich and for thread I take 18 gauge bank line and unwind, as it is a 3 strand cordage. The resulting thread is thin enough to sew with but very strong, and I already have bank line for bushcraft uses so it saves buying specialised thread. I use a whip stich to sew up my bag, which, instead of the traditional up and down sewing, you always push the needle through your leather in the same direction creating an external stich, a normal up and down stich would also work.
*sew your bag inside out, this will hide the stitches and give it a very clean well-made look. Turn the bag the right way around once the sewing is done*
Step 7: Now you can take a piece of leather thong or a strong cord to create your loop around the button as a closure system. You should have punched 2 holes in the lid of your bag earlier, simply thread a string through the holes and knot both ends. The longer the make your string the further away your button will be from the top of the bag, so you can make your string quite short.
Step 8: If you haven’t already sewn on your button now is the time, you can make sure its in the right place to have a snug closure for the bag.
A few notes:
With this pattern the size of the bag is mainly limited by the length of your leather, as the whole bag comes from one straight piece, if you don’t have a long piece you could cut out 2 squares and sew the bag on 3 edges.
The advantage of doing it this way is you have one less edge to sew and I think it makes the bag look a bit neater, but its all personal preference.
The dimensions shown in the pattern make a bag that fits an Altoids tin with room for other things.