Convertible Tote Backpack – Leather Crafts

Convertible Tote Backpack

Use this handy bag as a tote for grocery shopping or visiting the farmers’ market, or convert it to a backpack to free up your hands on bus trips and bike rides. The appealing design features both garment leather and vegetable-tanned leather.

Finished size

7×12×14 inches (17.8×30.5×35.6cm)

Materials

1 piece 6–7 ounce garment leather (2.4–2.8mm), 19×35 inches (48.3×88.9cm), for the body

1 piece 6–7 ounce vegetable-tanned leather (2.4–2.8mm), 2×61½ inches (5×155cm), for the straps

2 metal buckles, 1 inch (2.5cm)

10 metal belt loops, 1-inch (2.5cm) square

10 Chicago screws, ¼ inch (0.6cm)

8 double cap rivets, 7mm

2 double cap rivets, 9mm

2 snaps, Ligne 20

Template

Convertible Tote Backpack (idiotsguides.com/leather)

Tools

Chipboard

Mechanical pencil

Precision knife

Straightedge

Cutting mat

Strap cutter

Adjustable U-gouge

Adjustable stitching groover

Multi-prong pricking iron, ⅛ inch (0.3cm)

Mallet

Awl

Bag punch, 1 inch (2.5cm)

Rounded end punch, 1 inch (2.5cm)

Hole punch, #2

Hole punch, #7

Edge beveler, #2

Mini sledge hammer

Snap setter, Ligne 20

2 needles, #00

Techniques Used

Working with Templates

Cutting: Using a Straightedge

Cutting: Using a Strap Cutter

Punching: Using Hole Punches

Punching: Using End Punches

Hardware

Hand Stitching

Shaping Leather: Folding with a Channel

1 Trace the template and cut the leather. Transfer the paper template pattern to chipboard and cut it out. Trace the chipboard template onto the garment leather for the project body. Cut the straight sides using the precision knife and straightedge.

2 Mark the holes. Using a mechanical pencil, mark the holes on the project body, as shown on the template

3 Punch holes. Punch the holes marked in Step 2 using a mallet and the bag punch, #2 hole punch, and #7 hole punch, as marked on the template.

4 Mark the fold lines. Using a mechanical pencil, mark the fold lines on the rough side of the leather, as shown on the template.

5 Gouge the fold lines. Set the adjustable U-gouge to one half the depth of the leather, and gouge the fold lines marked in Step 4.

6 Mark the stitching groove. Using the adjustable guide stitching groover, mark the stitching groove ⅛ inch (0.3cm) from the edge of the project body, as shown on the template.

7 Punch stitch holes. Using the ⅛-inch (0.3cm) multi-prong pricking iron, punch the stitch holes evenly along the stitching grooves marked in Step 6.

8 Cut the belts. Set the strap cutter to 1-inch (2.5cm) width and cut two 61-inch (155cm) straps from the vegetable-tanned leather.

9 Bevel the belts. Using the #2 edge beveler, bevel the edges of both belts, front and back.

10 Trace the belt template. Trace the belt template to the straps cut in Step 6 using a mechanical pencil.

11 Cut the belt ends. Cut to length using the 1-inch (2.5cm) rounded end punch.

12 Punch the belt holes. Punch the holes marked in Step 10. Use the 1-inch (2.5cm) bag punch for the buckle slot hole, the #2 hole punch for the rivet holes on either side, and the #7 hole punch for the buckle and Chicago screw holes.

13 Install the buckles. Attach buckles to both belts. For each belt, thread the strap into the buckle from the bottom to the top with the tongue down. Insert the tongue through the oblong hole, and fold the strap around the buckle center bar. Align the rivet holes and install the 9mm double cap rivets.

14 Hammer the rivets together. Using the mini sledge, hammer the rivets until firmly set.

15 Cut belt loop straps. Using the strap cutter set to 1 inch (2.5cm), cut a 12-inch (30.5cm) strap from the same garment leather used for the project body.

16 Trace the template and cut the belt loops. Trace the small strap template four times on the strap cut in Step 15, marking the holes to punch. Use the 1-inch (2.5cm) rounded end punch to cut each piece out.

17 Punch the belt loop strap rivet holes. Punch the holes marked in Step 16 using the #2 hole punch for the rivet holes.

18 Rivet the first belt loop strap. Insert one end of a small strap through the bag punch hole at the top of the project body, with the finished side of the strap facing upward, toward the top of the project body. Rivet in place using a 7mm double cap rivet and the mini sledge.

19 Install the first belt loop. Slide the belt loop onto the small strap, and insert the other end of the strap through the same bag punch slot.

20 Finish installing the first belt loop strap. Insert the rivet post from the finished side of the project body, and the rivet cap from the rough side of the belt.

21 Rivet the strap. Flip the project over to the finished side of the project body, and finish the installation by riveting the second end of the strap in place using the 7mm double cap rivet and the mini sledge.

22 Install remaining belt loop straps. Repeat steps 18 to 21 to install the three remaining small straps in the three remaining bag punch holes at the top of the project body.

23 Install half the snap. Install the cap and socket on the buckle side of the project body in the #2 punched holes from Step 3, as shown on the template, with the cap surface on the rough side of the leather and the socket surface on the finished side, using the Ligne 20 snap setter.

24 Repeat on the other side. Repeat Step 23 with the second cap and socket on the other side of the project body.

25 Install the other half of the snap. Install the post and stud on the shoulder strap side of the project body in the #2 punched snap holes from Step 3, as shown on the template, with the post on the rough side of the leather and the stud on the finished side.

26 Repeat on the other side. Repeat Step 25 with the second post and stud on the opposite side of the shoulder side of the project body.

27 Begin stitching the first side. Align the two sides of the bag. Using your non-dominant hand, hold the two sides together at the top and stitch the long length of punched stitch holes from Step 7 using a baseball stitch. Stitch from the top of the bag to the point of the triangle and tie off.

28 Finish stitching the first side. Fold the triangle up, and stitch the triangle starting from the bottom left corner of the bag to the center stitch, connecting the triangle to the long length of stitching, then continue down the triangle to the bottom right side. Tie off.

29 Stitch the second side. Repeat Steps 28 and 29 on the opposite side of the bag.

Before stitching, loosely assemble the bag to make sure the snaps are installed correctly, the fold gouge is deep enough, and all the sides align properly.

30 Assemble the belt loop on the first belt. Slide the metal belt loop down the first belt strap up to the rivet binding the buckle.

31 Anchor the first belt to the bag. Align the #7 punched holes from the end of the belt, below the metal loop, and the topmost hole on the buckle side of the bag. Install a Chicago screw through the aligned holes of all three pieces of leather to anchor the belt to the bag.

32 Install the second metal belt loop on the first belt. Slide a second metal belt loop onto the strap down to the Chicago screw installed in Step 31.

33 Anchor the second belt loop. Align the #7 holes from the belt and the bag midway down the project body and install another Chicago screw through the two pieces to anchor the second belt loop in place.

34 Install third metal belt loop. Repeat Steps 32 and 33 for the third and last metal belt loop on the buckle side of the bag.

35 Install remaining Chicago screws. Continue to wrap the belt around the bottom of the bag, aligning the #7 holes and installing a Chicago screw to anchor the belt to the bag without a metal belt loop.

36 Finish assembly of the belts. Wrap the tail of the first belt around the shoulder side of the bag, and thread through the installed metal belt loop at the top of the shoulder side, then over the bag opening and through the belt loop at the top of the buckle side of the bag. Buckle the belt. Repeat Steps 30 to 36 to install the second belt on the bag.

The metal belt loops along the top of the bag facilitate the quick transition of the straps from tote handles to backpack straps.