My Brother’s Backpack

This backpack has been a long time coming! Ever since I made my mom a purse, my brother has been after me to make him a backpack. So the next time we were in Toronto I brought him to Perfect Leather so he could chose exactly what he wanted. My brother found a really pretty brown/black leather that was a bit shiny but at the same time a bit rugged looking.

Later when we got home he started looking online for backpacks similar to what he wanted. To my surprise he wanted something with a bunch of pockets! I had wrongly assumed it was something relatively simple, with maybe a zipper closure and a zipper pocket or two. I didn’t mind making that kind of bag, it’s just I had estimated the leather square footage I would need for the other design. But then I thought, it always works out somehow in the end so I just started drafting the pattern.


There is nowhere around here where I can get handbag hardware. The closest place would be Toronto and it doesn’t really have the greatest selection. I had got my mom’s bag’s hardware on my trip to New York last year, I even had some custom zippers made up for it. But unfortunately my brother hadn’t put in his order for his backpack by that time. So I had to make due. I went on Etsy to see what I could find and was pretty surprised by the decent selection. When I was choosing the hardware I had to keep in mind that he wanted it to be manly, which is actually harder to do than I would have thought. So I stuck to gunmetal everything, and mostly used buckles.


I warned my brother that all these buckles would be a huge pain, and knowing him he would be walking around with his bag completely open because he would be too lazy to do up the buckle. While browsing online I found this bag that had it all figured out, I almost missed it in the pictures. They put the buckle on the front closure just as all the other pockets, but this buckle is fake. They placed a tuck lock hidden beneath the buckle, so instead of having to unbuckle the front of the bag, all you need to do is press on the tuck lock! So clever!


I added a zippered pocket on the back of the bag for keeping more valuable things like a phone or wallet. Since that pocket sits against your back, it’s usually safe from pickpockets.


I didn’t start this bag for so long! When I finally sat down to start it, I drafted up the whole pattern, which was relatively quick to do. It’s actually one of my favourite parts. It’s so easy and fun since really all most handbags are, are a series of square pieces, and really they can be whatever you want! It’s so different from garment drafting since in garment drafting there are a lot of rules I guess you could say, and things to worry about like fit. But with bags it’s pretty much just whatever you wanna do! So I’m done the pattern, and I go to lay it out on the leather skins. I knew this would be the hardest part, because I was guessing it would be a tight fit. And wow was I right! I just kept trying different layouts over and over, thinking to myself there must be some way I can fit this, if only I keep trying. So I left it for a while after that. I moved on to other projects, because I couldn’t figure out how to make this work! So finally I sat down again, convinced once again I could figure this out. It took a while, but finally I found a layout, it was extremely tight. I was nervous to start cutting, in case I forgot an integral piece or somehow came to the end and it wouldn’t all fit. But it did, just barely! The great thing about it was I wasted almost nothing from those skins, literally shreds were left over. And since I knew my brother wanted the bag to be rugged looking, all the imperfections on the leather actually added to the aesthetic.


I used silk topstitching thread for this bag, I had it leftover from another project. It was pretty much the price of gold, but I thought at this point it’s just left over and this bag would really showcase it.


My brother was so excited when I brought it up to show him! He said it was even better than he had imagined! Success!

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