Meet The Maker: Leather Satchels A Step-by-Step Guide To Making A Traditional Bag

posted in: Leather Bags, vintage fashion | 8
Meet Our Leather Satchel Makers
Meet Our Leather Satchel Makers

At Scaramanga we’re proud of how our beautiful classic leather satchels are designed, and the hardworking, highly skilled men and women who create our bags. We believe in making classic leather satchels and bags using traditional tools and materials and most importantly of all, staying true to original leather working techniques and traditions. Our leather bags are still made the same way they would have been made in Britain 60 years ago.

Our Indian leather satchel, messenger and travel bag makers have been working in the leather industry for over 75 years. During the second world war they made cases, bags, belts and for the British and Indian Armies – an incredibly important role. The business has been managed by three generations of the same family, who are considered pioneers of antique and vegetable tanned (VT) leathers in eastern India. We only work with small scale and family run enterprises see our ethical policy.

We’ll you take you though the stages of making the perfect vintage leather satchel and share some of our insights.

Each of our bags is made by dedicated skilled Indian leather craftspeople with many years experience using traditional tools and materials.

STEP 1 – Our leather hides are taken from buffalo, because they give us great long lasting vintage style leather. During the finishing stages of tanning, our leather is left looking natural and is treated with hot wax to give it a unique distressed antique look and feel.

Leather Satchel - Choosing Leather Hides
Leather Satchel - Choosing Leather Hides

STEP 2 CUT LEATHER – The second stage is to cut the leather pieces used to create a satchel from high quality vegetable tanned leather, from templates, using razor sharp knives.

Leather Satchels - Cutting the leather

STEP 3 – SKIVE LEATHER – From the cutting section they are passed to a skiver, who will reduce the thickness of the edges of some of the pieces where they overlap so the join appears smooth and seamless.

STEP 4 JUNIOR MAKER PREPARATION – The hide is then passed to the skilled leather bag makers, who are arranged in small teams of four to five. Each team is managed by a very experienced team-leader, who supervises two other senior craftsmen and two apprentices or junior craftsmen. An apprentice can expect to practise his work for several years before becoming a senior craftsman, due to the highly skilled nature of the work. This small team is responsible for the entire process of making each bag; junior team members will skive and cut the leather pieces using patterns, make the straps, attach any buckles and prepare the lining and zips. Senior team-members and machinists will ‘build’ the satchel’s body and add the piping, whilst encouraging learning and continual improvement by the less experienced team members.
Each team can make 25 large satchels, flight bags or overlander bags, or 50 smaller satchels a week.

Leather satchel junior preparation

STEP 5 CUT & SEW LINING – Our brown leather satchels are lined with a hard wearing green canvas or turquoise cotton fabric. The lining is cut to the same size as the leather pieces, and a light adhesive is used to position the lining over the leather.

Leather Satchel cut and sew lining

STEP 5A- SEW PARTS TOGETHER – The seams of the five pieces of leather that make up the main body of the satchel are then stitched together by a leather machinist. They then add lengths of leather piping around the outside of the bag, and a further line of stitching is added to result in a strong, triple reinforced satchel.

Leather Satchel - stitch the pieces together

STEP 6 – STITCH PIPING – Our traditional satchel’s edges are made with piping giving each bag a more finished look.

Leather Satchel - stitch leather piping

STEP 6A – EXCESS LEATHER TRIMMED – Our buckles and hardware, custom made from high quality nickel-plated iron, are then fitted to the straps, and any excess leather is trimmed from the piping. Loose threads are cut from the bag to give a tidy finish.

Leather Satchel - trim excess leather and threads

STEP 7 – At the same time the two small front buckles, small flap straps and shoulder strap are stitched. For extra strength and durability, each strap is made from

double thickness leather. Front flap straps are finished with a classic double cable stitch, using a tough nylon thread for a great vintage appearance.

Leather Satchel - stitch straps

STEP 8 – TOOL STORAGE – Each bag is then carefully checked and is ready for delivery, and all the tools needed to make a traditional leather satchel are stored away beneath each craftsman’s worktop.

Leather Satchel - tool storage
STEP 9 – FINISHED LEATHER SATCHEL – The 9-inch leather satchel being made in the images was made by 40-year-old Alam. He has been making Scaramanga satchels for several years, and has over 22 years leather-working experience. Alam started as an apprentice and is now the most experienced leather craftsman, managing several small teams making the most complicated Scaramanga bags, including our vintage flight bags and Overlanders.

If you would like to know more about how our leather satchels and bags are made, please contact us with any queries or questions.

Not too sure what our unique brown distressed leather and polish tan looks and feels like?
We have free swatches of our leather available for UK customers.
Send an e-mail to with your full address and we will send you a swatch through t Leather Satchel - finished satchel he post.

8 Responses

  1. Well done Scaramanga! It’s great to see that your leather satchels are made using tried and tested techniques and materials and not like other typically mass-produced fashion items. You’ve got to be the only satchel retailer / maker showing a satchel being handmade. I can see there’s a great deal of skill involved in making one of your bags.
    Do I get the cute satchel shown for being the first to add a comment?
    How about a blog on how you get that lovely brown leather make to look like vintage leather. Now can I have the satchel?

  2. […] 70 years or so of working with leather. You can see more of the ‘makers’ of the bags on Scaramanga’s blog and website. And you can read Carl’s own story about the company here. But beware, once you get drawn in […]

  3. Jackie steane

    How can I buy one of these bags

  4. Hi, they can be bought from our website:
    The bag shown is the micro leather satchel.
    Please let us know if we can help further.

  5. Absolutely beautiful bags!.

    Plus………….any company that names itself after one of the best Bond villians ever, is a winner!.

  6. Claire

    So many companies and businesses claim to be ethical and fair trade, but seem to be saying just to keep up with the ‘crowd’. However, Scaramanga seem to be genuine in their apprpoach to fair trade fashion and keen show how their leather satchels are made. 10/10 from an active ethical shopper.

  7. Fantastic to see such a beautiful product that has been made with ethics and respect for the environment.

  8. Nice and informative information shared by your blog on Leather Bags for Women. I really appreciate it.
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