Hi everyone, I’ve finished the rucksack. There are quite a few things that would be REALLY handy to know before I started that I thought I would blog about it and save another bag newbie some time and learn from my errors! For those thinking about making this bag or buying the kit, hopefully it all makes sense with the pictures but if you have any questions just shout.
So why this bag?
We went to Rye a few months back and mister spotted some bags on a stand at the Merchant and Mills store. He rarely likes anything in a store or asks me to make anything for him so when he announced loudly “I like this one. The navy. That exact fabric colour and type”… we know what happened.
- The Merchant and Mills aesthetic – I love it!!!
- You can buy a kit that comes with fabric, leather straps, buckles, rivets, a drawstring and the eyelets.
- The eyelets come with the setting tool (the rivets don’t).
- Sewing part is easy, just straight lines. But you can’t do all the sewing bits at once first and then all the leatherwork afterwards, or vice versa.
- Instruction pictures are clear.
Less good aspects:
- Expensive! £88 all up. I found a ready made one on a website for £75 and it looks better than mine. Also for the cross body version you will need some more hardware.
- Only 1 spare rivet pair. No setting tool for rivets (but see below)
- Instructions could have been better (words more comprehensive and explanatory). But if you take it slowly and read each step 10 times you will be ok.
Really good to know
- Additional tools were needed as well as a hammer. Luckily Artisan Leather has everything you could want in terms of bag making supplies.
- The kit comes with setting tools for eyelets (pic 1). This is different to the setter made by Prym which I have used before (pic 4). In my case the eyelets were a different size from my Pry ones so I used the M&M setter.
- Leather punch – mine was £10 (pic 3 below)
- Rivet setter (pic 2) so your rivets stay pretty and don’t get dented (don’t ask me how I know!) – £6.25 plus postage here. You can see the anvil (long piece) is slightly concave which really helps. Pic 7 has the unfortunate mangled rivets before I had the anvil, and pic 8 is the perfect rivets afterwards.
- I had leftover for the leather straps so I could test punch the holes. But I made the rucksack version and the cross body version I think needs a longer strap.
- Double check the size of every hole before you punch, there is no going back.
- Use a heavy duty needle (mine was for denim).
- Before you topstitch the flap down – pin where the topstitching would go so you can check line is straight on the underside. I thought I had been precise with my measuring and stitching but apparently not enough and I topstitched over the lining because I couldn’t see the underside. I ended up omitting the whole line but this was decorative anyway so no worries in the end.
Design notes – Rucksack version
This rucksack will fit a spare outfit, bottle of water and a toothbrush if you are going out for the day. Or perhaps one night away and you are travelling light. I am sure you could get an iPad and phone charger in there too 🙂
What I like less is the lack of a proper base. The whole body of the bag is one piece folded in half then joined at the side. I have tried to show this in pic 6. Then the shoulder straps are riveted to the bottom corners of the bag. As this is only 2 layers of fabric I don’t know how strong it is. I added a reinforcing piece of fabric as a precaution. Also, whilst there is a magnetic snap closure and drawstring (pic 5), to close the bag properly requires two straps that buckle on the front pockets which hold the top flap down (similar to a Cambridge Satchel). This is quite impractical and it is a faff to undo and redo two buckles plus a drawstring every time you want to take something out.
Mister likes his bag and as with clothing I have made for him, it will get wear simply because I made it. That is regardless of how bad or unflattering or impractical it is. But in the end that is all that matters right?
On the downside, this make took me a long time and I found not having the right tools and not knowing what I needed quite frustrating, so I youtubed a lot and read the instructions multiple times, e.g. how to set a rivet, how to install a magnetic snap. The sewing bit was no problem at all. I would not recommend this as a first fabric/leather bag project as there are 7 pieces of leather to deal with, numerous holes to punch and almost 20 rivets to set.
The other M&M kit for the oilskin Jack Tar bag looks a bit easier and I will probably get this at some stage after de-stressing from this bag. As well as loving the M&M aesthetic, I think it will make a nice alternative to my 2 medium sized Longchamp bags I have used in rotation for the last 5 years.
Hope that is helpful for anyone who is thinking about buying the kit or making it up. It has piqued my interest in bag making (who doesn’t like leather straps to jazz up fabric bags?!) and improving my total lack of skill with leather. I am so happy to have found Artisan Leathercraft for every supply needed for M&M bags. Onwards and upwards!