I thought I'd made the bag before, but actually, I had previously made the Soho Slouch Tote, for a reversible linen/hemp bag that was definitely on its last legs by April, as the denim hemp was disintegrating -just like the jeans I made from the same fabric. I found the Soho Slouch very useful, but seriously lacking in pockets, and I much prefer leather bags to those made of cloth.
It could have been a very bad decision to make my first version of the Hobo Bag pattern in leather, as having very large pieces, is probably less suited to a leather bag than the Soho Slouch- it took 4 kangaroo skins, and the scraps were legion. Had it not been a shape I like, this might have been rather an expensive experiment. I must have been feeling very confident when I cut this out (I used a rotary cutter). As lining, I used a thick shirting cotton from Michael's fabrics
I enlarged the internal zipped pocket of the pattern, in cotton, then continued with the following additions
1. Leather sunglasses pouch in the strap - the top is gathered with elastic in a casing.This was a little difficult to construct with the edges turned in with the leather, and I decided to have all the other pockets inside the bag on the lining - however, it is in a particularly useful position for quick access to my sunglasses and I would repeat this pocket in leather for a second version.
2. Leather loops, one for a pen, one with a small clasp for my keys and an USB. I would add another loop in a second version and possibly also a loop strap with buckle - It is amazing how many things I carry about that need to stay upright!
4. My best addition, never found in a normal handbag - a waterbottle pouch made like a poacher's pocket with folded expanding corners and elastic at the top in a casing. I have found with recent use that this pocket is also remarkably useful for a folding umbrella on days so wet that no waterbottle is necessary ;)
Having previously sewn kangaroo leather, I was all prepared to glue and stitch with my handcranked Singer as previously, but a bit of trail and error allowed me to construct this primarily using a size 100 needle and jeans topstitching thread at 3.5mm stitch length on my Janome after my 1933 Singer had an episode of o ring disintegration that required ordering a new part from the U.S.A.
I didn't bother gluing, and used a teflon foot, but made no other concessions to sewing with leather. Things went swimmingly, even when sewing and turning seams in the leather through 4 thicknesses, until I came to the topstitching of the incorporated handles. At this point, the extra thickness over joining seams led to horrible stitches and stretching of the top layer of the leather. I was not happy.
Now most sources about sewing with leather say you cannot unpick. This is completely true, unpicking does leave holes and marks, however, I unpicked, and I have decided that these damaged areas are mostly apparent to myself, rather than the casual observer.
Overall, I am very pleased with this bag. It has room for all my bits and pieces, even a nice large knitting project, some groceries of the bread+milk- has- run- out variety, or a parcel-to-post, yet my phone and keys never fall to the bottom. I love the colour and softness of the leather, and it is comfortable over my shoulder.
I will use this bag until it wears out - then I might make an even better version with beautiful topstitching the first time around.