I don’t bring my lunch to work as often as I should. And by that, I mean never. What if I had a cool lunch tote? It might not help, but at the very least, it’s a fun project to practice your hand sewing and to make something interesting. Whether you need a lunch tote or not, this is a project you can modify for your own totable needs. Enjoy! — Matt
See the full how-to after the jump!
Before starting, print out the template on your printer using the “tile” function and tape it together to 100% scale. The one shown in the pic was an earlier version before I decided to cut the flaps separately. You can cut this from one piece of leather, but there’s more waste with the voids than with making separate flaps. If you modify this for your own project, maybe it’s smart to use one piece? That’s where this experiment can get really fun.
- 6–7 oz. weight stiff leather
- heavy waxed thread
- leather punches — #5 and #00
- leather sewing needles
- contact cement
- rotary knife
- stitching spacer
- downloadable template
1. Cut your leather pieces and trim any frayed edges to a smooth cut. I’m using leather that is 6 to 7 oz. thick, and you’ll need something stiff to provide strength for the handle. If you want to use thinner leather, try cutting an additional handle from the template and sew those two pieces together for more stiffness.
2. Take each of your interior flaps and prepare to mark your sewing holes. Using your stitching spacer and a ruler or straight edge, mark your holes. Use a stitching spacer with a large void, as we’ll be using thick thread, and a long stitch works best.
3. Glue the flaps aiming inward to your main piece with contact cement. Use only a strip under where the stitching will go so your pieces stay aligned when punching holes and sewing.
4. Once the glued pieces have set up, you can start punching holes for sewing. I’m using a punch, but you can use an awl instead. (See previous instructions for sewing with an awl on my passport post.) Punch holes according to the spacing marks through both pieces of glued leather. While you’re at it, pinch the handle-receiver end together and also the flap ends and punch some sewing holes through both layers there, too. You can freehand them, but try to maintain the stitch spacing you’ve been using.
5. The final step is to hand-sew your pieces with two needles and thick waxed thread. Using the two-needle method and backstitching on your ends will give you a sturdy, long-lasting seam. Again, there are more in-depth stitching lessons on my passport post.