Are you wondering what kind of bag is best to make in leather? Leather is such an incredibly versatile material that can be well-suited to manufacturing most styles of bags and purses.
Let’s unpack them into a list of the most popular styles made in leather.
- Tote Bag
- Saddle Bag
- Baguette Bag
- Boston Bag
- Gladstone Bag
- Bowling Bag
- Trapezoid Bag
- Drawstring Bag
- Canteen Bag
- Hobo Bag
- Messenger Bag
- Satchel Bag
- Duffel Bag
- Fanny Pack/Moon Bag
- Clutch Bag
- Wristlet Bag
- Zip Around Purse/Wallet
- Card Holder
1. Tote Bag
The word “tote” traced back to its original definition, means “to carry.” And that is what they do best! Also known as the “shopper,” totes are great reusable shopping bags.
The Tote is a large bag with a single compartment and two handles or straps. It can either have an open-top or be closed with a zipper, and sometimes they also have a magnetic clasp to keep belongings from falling out. It is a very popular bag to make in leather as it is a straightforward pattern, and users love it for its versatility.
2. Saddle Bag
The Saddle Bag is a medium-sized bag, usually shaped like a horseshoe or horse saddle. It was traditionally used as a pouch that would hang on either side of a horse from the saddle to hold small, essential items while traveling by horse. The Saddle Bag’s half-moon shape is worn across the body and has an iconic top flap that is secured with a buckle.
This bag is often made from a very thick and durable Veg Tanned leather, and leather crafters enjoy engraving equestrian motifs into this style to emphasize the design origin. This Saddle Bag concept has similarly been adapted to the use on motorcycles for the storage of small items while traveling.
3. Baguette Bag
The Baguette Bag is very descriptively named after the French loaf of bread, as it resembles the same shape. It is a long and narrow bag that is either worn on a shoulder or more conveniently carried in your hand as the strap is usually relatively short.
This style rose to fame in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the Fendi Baguette was featured alongside Sarah Jessica Parker in the television series Sex and the City.
The Baguette was marketed in contrast to the large Totes that were popular around that time. A slight variation of the Baguette Bag is the Barrel bag, which is a cylindrical, small, and long bag, with either a short strap to carry in your hand or a longer strap to go over the shoulder.
The Baguette is a non-intimidating style to manufacture as a novel leather crafter, as it is small and straightforward.
4. Boston Bag
The Boston Bag is used for traveling or is a general-utility bag. This style is loosely based on a Barrel Bag that is oblong at the bottom tapers to the top. Initially, it was pinched or folded in at either end next to the top opening and carried by two short handles.
Adding a strap that can be adjusted to go over your shoulder makes the Boston Bag more comfortable to lug around all day.
The Boston Bag got its name from the ladies of Boston who sported a more practical accessory choice compared to the fancier New York women who chose style over function. This bag is often also made out of nylon fabrics but almost always features leather detail. The Boston Bag is an item that can carry an immense load, and as such, it is best made out of sturdy and robust leather.
5. Gladstone Bag
The Gladstone Bag is a boxy briefcase-like shaped bag named after William Ewart Gladstone, the four-time Prime Minister of Great Britain. It’s also sometimes referred to as a Doctor’s Bag because it was a spacious and sturdy bag that doctors would use to carry their instruments needed for house calls.
Typically, the Gladstone Bag is made from thick leather fixed to a rigid, hinged frame. A single handle carries it.
6. Bowling Bag
The Bowling Bag was a popular style in the 1990s favored by younger women. This style was inspired by the bags used to carry bowling balls for the All American past-time of Tenpin bowling. As bowling balls are hefty, the bags were made from durable leather and had two broad, strong handles.
The fashionable version of the Bowling Bag is labeled as “retro” and is generally quite spacious.
7. Trapezoid Bag
A trapezoid bag is a vast classification that includes basically any bag which is shaped like a trapeze. The bags are always narrower on either the top or bottom, and the sides taper diagonally. Trapezoid bags are usually made from stiff leather and have a flap-over closure.
The most iconic trapezoid bag is the Kelly Bag. It was designed by the high-end Paris fashion house Hermes, and it was popularized by and then named after the American actress and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly. The bag is now a luxurious status symbol coveted by celebrities and commoners alike.
8. Drawstring Bag
As the name would suggest, a Drawstring Bag closes with a cinched string at the top, drawing the open edges together. It often has two straps that can be worn over the shoulders, similar to a backpack.
The construction of a drawstring bag is a fun challenge for leathercrafters as the round bottom, and tube-shaped body are different from the standard rectangles that bags are usually made from. The absence of a zipper makes sewing this style a tad easier.
Drawstring bags are also called Bucket bags as their round and cylindrical shape reminds you of a bucket. This type of bag is typically made in leather and rarely preferred in nylon fabrics.
9. Canteen Bag
Canteen Bags have an interesting origin, as they are inspired by the round leather water bottles that were used to carry drinking water. They are usually entirely round, with a long strap worn over one shoulder or as a cross-body handbag.
Sometimes these Canteen bags are round with a flat bottom and a shorter handle for carrying in your hand. This style has been included in the handbag ranges of top fashion houses as a trendy and playful accessory.
10. Hobo Bag
The Hobo Bag is a handbag style characterized by its typically large and crescent shape. A slouchy posture identifies it and features a long strap designed to wear over the shoulder. Hobo bags are made from soft, flexible leather and flop or slump when set down. This trendy woman’s fashion accessory is seen in many different sizes and shapes.
In the early to mid-2000s, this silhouette of handbags was very popular. Many celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Mary-Kate, and Ashley Olsen popularized the style as a more significant Boho-chic trend.
This handbag style is called a Hobo bag because it resembles the shape of the bundle on a stick that hobos are stereotyped as carrying over their shoulders in cartoons and drawings.
11. Messenger Bag
Messenger bags have been used to transport mail and goods by various messengers and have now become fashionable in urban environments, among cyclists and commuters. Messenger bags are commonly wider than they are tall and have one long strap that is worn cross-body or on a shoulder.
Messenger bags are favored as a functional fashion accessory by college students, high-school students, and corporate commuters. Many companies design messenger bags in synthetic, heavy-duty materials specifically for the collegiate market to comfortably carry textbooks, notebooks, and supplies.
Modern Messenger bags are trendy for corporate executives when they are crafted from leather and are a bit more rigid.
12. Satchel Bag
The Satchel is a rectangular leather bag traditionally used by schoolchildren to carry their books around. It has a flap-cover and a long strap to wear either on a shoulder or cross-body. Shakespeare’s famous monologue, “All the World’s a Stage,” attests that the Satchel has been a typical accessory of English students for centuries.
The traditional Cambridge and Oxford-style satchel is a single pouch with a front flap.
Variations of this design include single or double pockets on the front and often a handle on the top of the bag. The schoolbag satchel generally had two straps in a V from the center of the back of the bag, which was worn like a backpack, rather than separate straps on each side. The Satchel is a timeless classic as it has a strong heritage and is synonymous with leather durability.
13. Duffel Bag
The modern Duffel bag is often confused with a hoop-handled hard-bottomed zippered bag, known generally as a Gym bag, Holdall, or a Weekender. Today, the Duffel we most often see made in leather is a hybrid of the original Military Duffel, the cylindrical Barrel bag, and the Gym Bag.
The original Duffel bag is a large tube-shaped bag typically made of canvas, with a drawstring top closure. This Duffel style was popularized by non-commissioned personnel in the military and has been adapted for use in travel, sports, and recreation by civilians. Sailors and Marines use a similar Duffel known as a Seabag.
A Duffel’s sizable opening and lack of rigidity make it an extremely versatile bag for carrying sports equipment, bulky objects, or simply a lot of luggage.
14. Backpack Bag
Backpacks are also known by a fair few names like; rucksack, knapsack, booksack, bookbag, or backsack. In the 1910s, the word Backpack was invented in the United States, and it has become more common worldwide. Its simplest frameless form is a fabric sack with two straps that go over the shoulders to carry on one’s back.
The addition of extra pockets and pouches make Backpacks a firm favorite for anyone who has to carry a few items but needs their hands free.
Leather Backpacks are an incredibly trendy alternative to handbags right now, with many ladies opting for a small Backpack to free up their hands. They are also super popular with day-hikers and students for carrying heavy books or any equipment because of the limited ability to carry heavyweights in the hands for long periods.
15. Fanny Pack / Moon Bag
This bag has many descriptive names; a waist bag, or fanny pack (US), belt bag, moon bag, belly bag, or bumbag (British English), to name a few. It is a small leather pouch worn like a belt around the waist using a strap above the hips that is usually secured with a clipping buckle.
The straps typically have adjustable sliders to make sure the pouch fits appropriately. It can be considered as a purse or a bag worn around the waist.
The 1980s saw the rise of the modern version made from synthetic materials, and they were especially popular in the 1990s, but slowly their use was satirized and fell into decline in the 2000s. The moon bag held the stigma of being used by nerds and became “uncool.”
In 2018, Moon bags were back in the spotlight when fashion designers Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton introduced new styles. The designer packs are expensive and seen on celebrities who are reviving the Fanny Pack and making it “hip” again. This time around, the bags are worn around the waist or cross-body.
As of 2021, fanny packs are still popular. We now primarily refer to them as “waist-bags,” as they are mostly worn “cross-body” rather than around the waist. They are convenient bags because they allow you to be hands-free, and unlike backpacks, they don’t put any strain on the back, and you can still keep an eye on your belongings to make sure nothing gets stolen.
16. Clutch Bag
The word ‘Clutch‘ is defined as grasping or hold with the hand, usually firmly, tightly, or suddenly. A Clutch bag is, therefore, any small handbag without handles. It is called a Clutch because you need to “clutch onto it” instead of hanging from your shoulder.
They are usually rectangular, mainly used as an evening bag just big enough for the bare necessities, but can be used during the day too. Some have been reinvented to feature a strap to sling over the shoulder.
Below are the three top styles of Clutch Bags made in leather:
1. Envelope Clutch
An Envelope Clutch generally has a rectangular body with a “V” shaped closure flap that gets secured with a press-stud or magnetic clasp instead of a zipper, creating the resemblance to a paper envelope. This little clutch is a perfect bag for beginner leather crafters to make as it is elementary in construction.
A Pouch is a small zippered clutch bag that is either handheld or carried under your arm. It is the perfect size for the essentials for a night out, like lipstick, cash, and credit cards. It is also often used to keep passports and tickets in when traveling, but this would then be carried as a purse inside another bag and not on its own.
3. Kiss Lock Clutch
A Kiss Lock Clutch falls under the “frame handbags” category, where the fabric or leather of the bag attaches to the metal frame that forms the bag’s opening. Frame bags often use a kissing lock closure, which is two interlocking metal beads that click past each other on the top of the frame.
Kissing locks were popular during the early to mid 20th century and remain sought after by vintage collectors and popular in “retro” design revivals.
17. Wristlet Bag
The Wristlet Bag is a small, often rectangular handbag with a short carrying strap that can be looped around the wrist. It can be classified as a Clutch in design, but it is a bit more practical on a night out with the added wrist strap because your hands can both be free. The Wristlet is usually closed with a zipper.
The durability of leather is well suited to this style as the strap is less likely to snap, making it a safer choice.
A Wallet is classified as a flat case or pouch used to carry paper money, bank cards, personal identification cards, and a driver’s license. Wallets have changed significantly in style over the years as the need for more card space has forced them to grow. Wallets are preferred when made of leather, and they are usually pocket-sized for men, and the purses are slightly longer for ladies who carry them in handbags.
There are three main types of Wallets:
Typically has two sides, long enough for a banknote when open and folds in half to fit into a pocket. It can either have a small flap that clips closed with a press stud or nothing holding it closed.
This Wallet has three equally sized sections, with two sides that fold inwards, resulting in a slightly thicker item. When both sides are open, it should be long enough to accommodate a flat banknote. Tri-Fold wallet ends overlap when folded and sometimes have magnetic clasps to keep them closed.
A Long Wallet is essentially an elongated version of either the Bi-Fold or the Tri-Fold Wallets. It is long enough to hold paper notes without folding and is usually a more feminine style with a unique design feature incorporated into the closing flap. This Wallet has ample space for cards and commonly has a zippered coin pouch.
Some Wallets have added features like money clips, a coin pouch, a chain hook, or specialized sleeves for photographs of loved ones. In addition to their practical function, wallets can be used as fashion accessories or display the owner’s style, wealth, or status.
19. Zip-Around Purse/Wallet
A Zip Around Purse is a variation of the Long Wallet, as they are very similar in construction, with the overarching difference being the addition of the zip that runs all the way around the purse. This design adjustment has created a significantly more secure way to carry your money, bank cards, and coins.
The larger Zip Around purses that we see nowadays can also safely store a smartphone, making it one less thing to put down somewhere when quickly popping into a store accidentally.
The Zip Around Purse is a must-have in top-quality leather as it is an accessory that is used every day and can be subjected to a fair amount of abuse, and the strength of the leather will ensure it lasts a long time.
20. Card Holder
The smallest of all the wallets/purses is the Card Holder. It answers the need for a wallet that could discretely fit into a pocket but securely hold only the essential cash and cards needed for a particular trip. Card Holders are limited in their capacity, as they can usually only hold four or six cards and have a small sleeve for folded notes.
They are arguably the most commonly made leather item for DIY leather-craft, as they don’t require much material and are small enough to achieve in a short period.
Now that just about everything can be paid for by card, it could be argued that wallets may become obsolete and that a Card Holder is all that is required.