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Picture of Hand Stitched Leather Backpack

If you've been following my account for a while, you'd know that I've been doing a lot of leather work lately. Unfortunately, this will be my last leather project, and instructables, for a while. I want to thank everyone who checked out my past instructables, wrote me comments of support and constructive criticism, and voted for me during the contests I participated in! I'm truly thankful and I'm glad I was able to be such an active member of this community during the past year!

With that said, let's begin the project! This backpack is geared toward my life as a student and was designed to carry my laptop, phone, writing utensils, books, snacks, and a few other small items. However, I wanted to add some cool features to make it a little more special. These include a secret pocket beneath the main front flap, protecting it from the elements and thieves. I really like how straps with buckles look, but I don't like having to undo buckles every time I want to open the bag, so I added magnetic clasps! Because of how easy it was to open the magnetic clasps, I included two hidden zippered flaps at the top of the bag as another step of security. I also wanted to include a holder for my favorite water bottle and due to its unique shape I was able to do this with only one strip of leather. You can simply leave this out if you don't want a bottle holder, or adjust the designs as necessary for your own bottle. Finally, I knew that I had to include the lash tab (or pig snout) as decoration and a way to hang more things from my backpack.

As usual, this project is geared towards people without professional leather working tools. All the stitching holes have already been marked and everything made to fit. The entire project can be made with basic tools that you should already have around. The rotary punch is the only exception, but you can simply replace it with a nail and a hammer.

All these designs were created in Adobe Illustrator and will be provided as a PDF in the step below!

Step 1: Materials & Design

Picture of Materials & Design

For this project you will need the following items:

  • Leather (I used an entire side of 5 oz vegetable tanned leather)
  • Design (see below and be sure to print on 11" x 17" paper)
  • 1 Large Buckle
  • 2 Medium Buckles
  • 4 D Rings
  • 4 Magnetic Clasps
  • 1 18cm Closed End Zipper
  • 1 25 cm Separated Zipper
  • Waxed Thread
  • Needles
  • Scissors
  • X-acto Knife
  • Leather Awl (Just use large needle if you don't have one)
  • Rotary Punch (nail and hammer will work as well)

Most of my leather accessories I bought online from I'll link the items so you can see what I used.

SimV111 months ago

Lovely tutorial!

You mention having made the design on A4 size first, can you share that as well? I'm in Europe so I don't have access to US paper sizes. Thanks!

Daniel Stabile (author)  SimV111 months ago

I'm sorry but I no longer have the A4 designs, I used the same file to convert over to US standard sizes and didn't keep a copy of the old designs. I'm sorry!

mr_marte1 year ago
Thank you for sharing! I find all the details you give very helpful. Best wishes on your future endeavors.
Daniel Stabile (author)  mr_marte1 year ago

My pleasure and thank you! I'm glad you found it helpful :)

Very clean! Voted for you.

Thank you so much!

This bag came out so beautifully - amazing work! I definitely picked up some inspiring tips in your documentation too - well done :D

Daniel Stabile (author)  audreyobscura1 year ago

Thank you, I'm glad you found it useful :)

HideGear1 year ago

Such a beautiful pack, I believe I will combine some aspects the pack I just made with this and see what comes out. Really impressed well done

Daniel Stabile (author)  HideGear1 year ago

Thank you! I hope the additions work out :)

dohebert1 year ago

Thank you for the link to the saddle stitch. I've been wanting to make myself a tool roll out of some scrap leather & wondered how to do the stitches. Now I know!

Daniel Stabile (author)  dohebert1 year ago

You're very welcome :) Glad I could be of help

jseely231 year ago

You did amazing man. Nice Job. Did you use 5 oz leather hides or 5 mm hides?

Daniel Stabile (author)  jseely231 year ago

Thanks! I used 5 oz leather, good catch :)

That is so so cool!

Thanks! It's great to have you checking out my profile again!

Oh wow that looks gorgeous!

Thanks, I'm glad you liked it :)
Troubah1 year ago

Beautiful backpack !

Daniel Stabile (author)  Troubah1 year ago
Thank you very much!