11 Feb 2017

Briefcase with 3 piece gusset



This bag is different in many ways form the briefcases I normally make. First of all it has a 3 piece gusset which is something I have never done before. Also it is made from undyed leather which is actually very different to work with compared to dyed leather. This came as quite a surprise as I was not excepting any major differences. The undyed leather gets marks and scratches much easier. Also when bending it around a buckle it is not necessary to wet it to prevent it from cracking.

This bag is very heavily inspired by Boles single minister briefcase: http://shop.boletannery.com/collections/frontpage/products/single-minister-briefcase

Also thanks to WyntonMarsalis for advice regarding the construction of the gusset.










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10 Feb 2017

Pattern for the briefcase with 3 piece gusset

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If you decide to use this pattern remember to double check the dimensions and change them to your needs. Also take into consideration that this pattern (like most of my patterns) is not perfected in any way as I only have made one of these so far.

Thinks to be aware of is the spacing of the holes for the handle in the metal strip. I made them 18 cm apart but it really depends on the width of your handle and the billets.

Regarding the billets I might make them a tad smaller next time. Also if you do not want the extra d-ring for the shoulder strap the strip on the billet should be shorter. This again will change how the holes in the metal strip should be placed.

For the gusset I made the channels for the bends 1,1 cm from the edge. You might want to take this down a bit to maybe 1,0 or 0,9 cm instead. Adjust the pattern accordingly.


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9 Feb 2017

Briefcase handle

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The handle is more or less the one from Al Stohlmans "The Art of Making Leather Cases, Vol. 2" page xx. I made it a bit shorter and the filler is also like 1 mm less in thickness.


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8 Feb 2017

3 piece gusset

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I have never made a gusset like this before so some experimentation was needed to determine the best way to do it. You see that the stitching is on the bottom and not on the side of the gusset as most people tend to do. I prefer having it on the bottom as it gives the side a more sleek look. 
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7 Feb 2017

Briefcase front

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The front piece is very similar to this front piece. The biggest difference is that a pocket is added on the back side.

Here I put the lock where I wanted it to see if it looked okay.


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5 Feb 2017

Briefcase back

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As always I cut the back piece to long. When making a new design it is hard to determine the exact dimensions so having a bit extra you can cut off is a really good idea.
As you can see here the back piece is a bit too long.

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31 Jan 2017

Briefcase shoulder strap

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The shoulder pad for the strap has a slightly different design that what I have done before. The strap will run in between the two layers of leather in its entire length. The thick piece of leather is cut to size and the thin piece is cut a bit oversize. The two pieces are glued together along the side.


After they have been glued together trim all around the edge. Scribe a line for stitching 3 mm from the edge stopping at each end so that the two end of the lines are 3,6 cm apart


Sew it together and burnish the edges:

The straps are made as usual. See here and here

The start of the holes start 6,5 cm from the end.

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28 Dec 2016

Notepad cover

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This note pad cover was made to match this briefcase. It had to hold a Rhodia Pad No. 16 - A5 a G. V. Faber Castell pen and some business cards. I did not have any of these so I had to rely on measurements from the customer and the internet. 











This was the first time I tried to dip dye a relatively big piece of leather. It did not take any pictures of this process but I will next time I do it. I made 2 mistakes. Firstly there were some drips I did not notice which showed up after the dye had dried. The left the leather darker. Secondly I let the leather dry directly on the green cutting mat. Somehow the wet leather absorbed some of the mat leaving the flesh side slightly green. As most of the flesh side is not visible I only had to dye a new piece for the back cover.  

Most of the pieces cut out

The card holder was sew on after the edges had been burnished.

Pricking marks 3mm from the edges was mark

The smallest edge beveler I have is actually too big for the thin leather used. I found that if a angle the beveler slightly back it will take off less material. Getting a totally even edge becomes much harder. Also because the leather is so thin I  have to place to leather next to the edge of the cutting mat to make room for the beveler.

On the second piece of the right pocket you only bevel the first few cm on the right side.

The closure strap was made by gluing two pieces together. To get an extra strong bond I applied a thin layer of contact cement and let it dry for 24 hours. Then I applied a second layer and let it dry for around 30 mins.

The edges was sanded to before gluing.

I used a pen with the same diameter as the Faber Castell pen to determine the length of the pen holder.


The strap holder was sewn on the back piece


The pen holder and the strap has to sandwiched between the back piece and the front. This will result in gaps on both side of each. To prevent this I put small pieces of leather in these gaps Here they are glued in place.

Burnish the edge


Skive the end of the pen holder after it has ben glued together

Also skive the end of the strap. Now glue them in place.

Now glue the front piece in place

Here you see that the small pieces of leather fill the gap that would have been on each side of the strap

And the pen holder.

Now all that is left to do is to stitch it alle together
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Yet another Classic briefcase

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This time the design was the same as the "standard".

The main differences are:
  • The handle cover was cut a bit different.
  • The gusset dimensions was changed to fit better.
  • I used the new "ebay" pricking iron 
  • I dyed the leather using a big applicator
  • I used my new polishing machine to sand and burnish the edges
Ready to dye:

The applicator is a piece of wood covered in plastic with a t-shirt nailed in place. The t-shit is folded several times.

It soaked up a lot of dye making the dyeing job a bit faster than with my normal method

The applicator was wider than the width of the gusset which made it a bit harder to use. It would be better to have a applicator the same with as the gusset.

I dragged the applicator along the edges which meant that they got darker. This was corrected by applying another layer of dye focusing on the middle part.

Here is the big piece all dyed. It has some streak along the center which I also tried to correct but it must have had something to do with the leather as it did not disappear after a second coat.

The applicator worked out okay but there are room for improvement. After dyeing the two pieces my forearm was really sore and I had problems holding on to the it. I guess this was due to the fact that you hold it with your fingertips. Putting on some kind of handle would solve this. Also it did not help that I had to lay on my knees the hole time.

All the main pieces cut after conditioning

The handle was cut a bit different this time. The length of the part where the D-ring is was made a bit longer and also the total length of the handle was shorten a bit.


This is just some progress pics of the handle




Scribing a line og the back side makes it so much easier to ensure that the awl is exciting the right place.



The way I skive thin strips of leather for the belt keeper:


In the right hand corner you see the polishing machine I use for burnishing, I will make a post about that in the near future:



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