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Tanner Claridge is a Montana craftsman! Follow him on Instagram @claridge_leather.

Things to consider before you start: The pattern is for a simple tote, but it can be customized in many ways, as in the case of this Mountain Bag. If you are sewing on a machine, a cylinder arm machine will be really helpful. Sewing the vertical seam on the upper portion of the bag can be tricky. If you’re using a machine, it will be helpful to use a softer-tempered leather (around 4-6 oz) because of the ways you’ll need to manipulate the leather to sew the vertical seam. This design also lends itself well to hand-stitching. If sewing by hand, a firmer-tempered leather could be a viable option.

Step 1

Cut out the rectangular and oval-shaped pieces according to pattern. (Figure 1)

Step 2

Mark the hole locations and punch eight 1/8” diameter rivet holes in rectangular piece.

Step 3

If possible, skive the flesh side (inside) of all of the seam edges on both the rectangular and oval pieces. This reduces overall seam bulk and especially makes the bottom seam easier to manage during sewing.

Step 4

On the large rectangular piece, fold the top 1” over and use seam tape or glue to keep it in place for sewing. Sew the rolled edge with either one or two rows of stitching, depending on the appearance you prefer. (Figure 2)

Step 5

Using seam tape or glue, adhere the two edges of the vertical seam together with an overlap of 3/4.

Step 6


With a long ruler and scratch awl, mark out two vertical lines on which to sew. These lines should be about 3/8” apart, centered on the overlapping seam (each about 3/16” in from the edge).

Step 7

Sew along these two lines to create the vertical seam of the bag. (One line of stitching would be sufficient as well, if you prefer). (Figure 3)

Step 8

Turn the upper portion of the bag inside-out and lay it flat on the table with the seam down, against the table. Center the seam. The rivet holes should also line up from front to back.

Step 9

Mark out four points along the bottom edge to facilitate proper alignment of the bottom panel to the top. With a pen, lightly mark the exact middle point on the bottom edge of the bag, both on the front and back piece. Also, mark the far left-hand point and the far right-hand point (where the leather folds). You have now marked four points on the bottom edge of the leather, equally spaced (like north/south/east/west).

Step 10

Do the same thing on the oval-shaped bottom panel: mark four points at equal distances around the perimeter corresponding to “north/south/east/west”.

Step 11

Finally, take a handful of small binder clips (about 16) and begin attaching the top portion of the bag to the oval-shaped bottom. First, match up the four marks on the top and bottom pieces and place a clip at each of the four points. Then add about three more clips between each of those four points so that the entire perimeter is well fastened and aligned. This is the time to try to work out any areas of wrinkling or bunching.

Step 12

Sew around the perimeter of the seam, at least 1/4” in from the edge. If desired, reinforce the seam with a second row of stitching at 1/2” in from the edge. (Figure 4)

Step 13

Flip it right-side out and prepare to make the handles!

Step 14

For the two handles, cut four straps, 1” wide by 36” long. For each strap, glue two pieces back-to-back and sew around the edge to join the two straps into a double-sided strap.

Step 15

Punch two 1/8” holes in the ends of the handles as shown on pattern.

Step 16

Join the handles to the tote on the holes you’ve already punched in the bag. Copper rivets are recommended. Also, consider adding a circular piece of leather as a “washer” under the head of the rivet on the inside of the bag. This will dramatically increase the strength of this connection and will reduce the likelihood of the rivet pulling through the leather.

Step 17

Congratulations! You’ve got a bag! 

Download Pattern

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