Yellow leather hobo bag


This is my entry for the pattern review handbag contest.  I will just copy and paste my review entry here, as another week begins and I am not quite ready for it...things to do people!

Pattern Description: Leather Hobo Bag

Pattern Design:I drafted this pattern myself. The dimensions were taken from an Oroton bag that I have. It is basically 2 squares, with corners cut out of the bottom to give the bottom of the bag a box shape. A single strap is used to carry the bag on your shoulder. A magnetic snap is used as the bag closure. My Oroton bag has a leather facing on the upper edge of the bag, which I did not copy because I was worried about sewing through all those layers of leather (it would be 4 layers for top-stitching the upper edge of the bag).

Pockets:the best part about sewing your own bag is customizing the pockets. For a long time now, I have been sewing bags with two internal pockets - one zipped, where I keep my phone, and one without a zipper, to slip my keys quickly into and to find them quickly again. I have tried adding key hooks and more elaborate pockets, but found that I didn't use them. Before I sewed this bag, I tipped out everything that was in my current bag to help me decide what pockets I needed. This time I added an extra zippered pocket, low down and out of the way, to stash things that always stay in my bag and don't need to be accessed very often (eg medications). I also added a pen pocket and a glasses pocket. I'm not sure how well the glasses pocket will work. I made it in a softer quilting cotton, so that it squashes out of the way when not being used.

Fabric Used: The main fabric is leather purchased from The Fabric Store. It is thicker than any leather that I have sewn before, at a thickness of ~ 3 mm. It was labelled as Tory Burch.

The lining is a cotton canvas.

Hardware Used:

The hardware is from http://www.adelaideleather.com.au.
On the straps, I used D rings and bag snaphooks. They are lovely heavyweight fittings that feel like they will last really well.

I used double capped rivets to finish the straps and to secure the straps to the bags. I have a snap press, but did not have time to order dies and rivets from the supplier I have used in the past (I only have dies and parts for one sided snaps, and bags generally use double capped rivets). I set these rivets with a hand setting rivet tool, and it did not work out anywhere near as well as using a snap press. The caps do not always line up on each side.

Information on techniques used:
I used a leather needle.
I used extra strong Gutermann polyester thread.
I set my sewing machine to its slowest setting (which really tested my patience!)
I used a drill press to drill holes in my leather for the rivets.
As well as back-stitching at the ends of my seams, I also tied off my threads.

What could have been done better?
I wasn't sure what to do with my leather seam allowances. The leather was quite stiff and thick, and they didn't squash open and flat very easily. I read pros and cons for gluing the seal allowances down, but in the end, I just trimmed them to 1/4" and left them. 

At the top edge of the bag, it was difficult to fold the lining to the inside of the bag because of the leather seam allowance. I tried hammering the seam allowance turned in and flat, but it did not help much. I also have a few skipped stitches in the top-stitching around this upper edge as my machine struggled to stitch the outer leather to its folded seam allowance.

As mentioned above, the rivets could be better.

Would you sew a leather bag again?I'm not sure. Although my design was simple, the actual construction was hard work because of the thickness of the leather. I have a new appreciation for good quality leather bags! 

This was also quite an expensive make. The leather was on sale for $60 (and I have enough left over to make a smaller bag).

The hardware, including shipping, came to $50. Of course, I have plenty of rivets and some other bits and pieces for later bags, but this is what I outlayed at this time.

The cotton lining was from stash, so I don't remember what it cost. Fabric plus shipping was probably $20. The thread was probably about $8.

Zips were part of a larger order, because I can't get these sorts of zips locally. My total order came to $45, including shipping. Of course, I got lots more zippers, but I would not have placed the order if I wasn't sewing this bag. Say $10 for this bag.

The pattern was free 

So it cost about $150 to make. I have all the supplies, including hardware, to make another smaller leather bag for free, and plenty of rivets etc in stash for other projects.

So not cheap. Cheaper than buying the equivalent bag, but my finishes are not as nice as a purchased bag.

Are you happy with the bag? I am really happy with the bag. The rivets could be better, but I'm sure I will forget about those once I start using the bag all the time. I love the pop of colour from wearing the bag, and it is a nice roomy size.


  1. I love your yellow bag! I think you have done a great job and I also love the photo shoot. A leather bag nowadays costs in excess of $400 sometimes so I think it's a good buy. I love it with the grey stripe t-shirt.

  2. What an awesome bag. I particularly love the yellow pop of colour. A winning entry in my eyes.

  3. I love the colour as well and the fact it's made with such a top quality leather and canvas lining makes it a total win. I wondered how heavy it ended up being in the end? That's always the swaying factor for me on whether to buy a bag - if it's heavy to start with it's going to be a 2 ton Tessy once I've filled it ;)

    1. Yes, leather bags are heavy. It is always pleasant to swap out for my smaller fabric bags. I like the robustness of the leather bags though, and they hold their shape well.

  4. I love this gorgeous yellow bag and I thought it looked a bit like an Oroton from the pictures! I'm sure you'll love having the inside so well customised. Now I want one in this colour!

  5. It's gorgeous! Amazing work.

  6. Beautiful!
    Mary in Thailand

  7. I love that bag! The bright color is so fun. I'm working with leather on a handbag for the first time right now. Black, though, combined with a textured gray/black upholstery fabric. It was meant to be a cold-season bag, but now we're entering into the hot season here in the northern hemisphere a bright leather bag seems like a great idea! I purchased the Craftsy class on making leather bags to learn some tips for working with leather, and I've learned some new tricks. Nice work!

  8. I'm another one that loves your yellow leather bag. What a fun color.

  9. It's gorgeous, I love the bright colour, the lining, the hardware and all the pockets - all of it basically!