Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CUT Backpack with leather details!

When I saw the backpack in CUT Nr. 8 01/13 I immediately knew I had to make one. I have been wanting a backpack for a while now - for all the heavy stuff my left shoulder doesn't want to carry alone anymore. Usually backpacks are quite sportive looking... I love sports, don't get me wrong, but I wanted one that looked cute, cool, city-esque! After all, I won't be carrying it for hours at a time, walking over a mountain, but just for those commuting minutes either on the bike or the subway...

Well, here it is!

What also tempted me to try this pattern is that it is using leather. A material I want to get to know more anyway, and I have plenty left-overs from my shoe-making course in London...

I also used some of the techniques I learned in that course. The tools I used were simple: a rotary cutter for the fabric, a really sharp knife for the leather (this is one that is also used for autopsies...), a ruler with lots of lines and a cutting mat are very helpful. This way, you don't actually have to cut some of the pattern pieces like the straps out of paper, you can just measure them and cut them out using a little geometry...

Leather shouldn't be cut with scissors. A sharp knife is best, hold it at a 90 degree angle to the mat, using your forefinger to press. Try not to stop and go, just move it swiftly and with determination, and you will get very clean edges. Be very careful though!

Since I had a suspicion that this might not be the last backpack I am making, I decided to glue the pattern pieces on a light cardboard, so that it can be re-used. It also makes it easier to cut out the pieces, since the knife is guided by the cardboard.  I used my riveting pliers and my sharp knife to cut in holes in the relevant places. All the lines can be transferred to the leather/fabric super easily that way! It is such a handy technique, take a look:

I also made an effort to label things neatly. Up close:

Depending whether the marks will be visible or not later, use chalk or pen to transfer... You may or may not "connect the dots", depending whether it is necessary or not...

This was the first time I used my walking foot, and I am such a fan! My regular old sewing machine managed all the thick layers with it, including double layers of leather! I didn't buy different thicknesses of leather straps as they suggest, because I wanted to use what I had. So I made the straps from double layers which I sewed together, and I also used a double layer of fabric for the body of the backpack.

I think it is an extremely cute city backpack! These pictures are after a good month of wear and tear, I had days with extremely heavy loads in it, and it didn't rip anywhere so far! Next time, I will make the straps a bit wider, and maybe pad them a bit, but I am very happy with it. It is funny, it looks much bigger on me than I expected, because for the CUT photo-shoot, a guy is presenting it ;-). You can actually page through that magazine right HERE, in case you don't know it. I don't think it comes in English yet, but their website does (link at the top of the post). Their patterns are really easy to follow though, even if you don't speak German.

Isn't it super cute?
Of course an extra bonus is that it matches perfectly with my shoes, since I used the same dark blue leather...

The bottom is made from leather, protecting it from dirt, and the straps are adjustable, and actually put in place by magnetic buttons:

Here you see the shoulder-straps, they are adjustable, too:

The seams you see in the picture above are from a little inside pocket. Oh and I love details like the string-stopper!

The next one I'll make will be entirely out of leather, since the weather is nicer now and the wool fabric - which is a left over from my DIVA COAT from the Burda Style Book! - is getting a bit too warm now. It will be super quick, since I took my time preparing that pattern! I love it when precision pays off!

Have a great day and happy sewing!


  1. Ammazing. You have great sewing skills!

  2. Wow, looks awesome! I'm really impressed that your sewing machine sewed through two layers of leather,too. What kind do you have?

  3. Yes, I was impressed too! It only worked well with the walking foot. It is a pretty cheap machine which I ordered from a catalogue a long time ago. It's called "privilege Jeans". I actually just replaced it with a real cool "Vigorelli", which is made for upholstery and leather sewing... so now there is definitely no stopping me from sewing more bags...