A few months back I made this tote bag for my brother’s girlfriend. Now I made another one. It’s slightly different: its bottom is made out of rhubarb-tanned sheep leather, made from sheep that graze freely on the Lüneburger Heide in Germany. I liked the sound of that!  I bought this stuff at Dictum (link), and it wasn’t really expensive. The only downside was the colour. In the pictures on the website the leather looks quite like normal fresh veg-tan leather – pale, no distinct colour. This stuff was yellow. So I decided to dye it. I used a dye that was labelled “light-brown”, but it resulted in this deep, dark brown colour. The process of dyeing also changed the feel of the leather: before it was quite silky and almost a bit velvety, and after it was glossy and smooth. The result was unexpected, but I quite like it in this bag. The lining is also different from the previous bag. I used a linen/cotton mixture that has a subtle pattern woven in. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see it has vertical blue, white and red lines. The fabric has a nice vintage-y feel to it.

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A friend of mine asked me to make him a wallet. Requirements: it should be able to hold coins, bills, and 8 cards or so. I made him this wallet out of recycled veg-tanned leather and waxed linen. The outside comes from an old bag that had a lot of water damage. It also supplied the leather for my shoulder bag. I love the patina the leather built up over the years (probably decades, since the bag looked distinctly seventies to me). You can really see it has some good age to it. inside consists of a thin layer of split leather and the waxed linen stitched together. The pocket for the coins runs until the middle of the wallet, where I stitched the two layers together again to stop coins from rolling over to the left side of the wallet. On the left side there is a piece of leather with three slits to put the three most frequently used cards in. The rest of the cards go behind the piece of leather. The black stitching is done by machine, the white is waxed linen thread that is hand stitched for greater strength. The inside slopes slightly to the right so it is easier to get your bills out. All corners were beveled and burnished with saddle soap and linen. I really love this method, much faster than gum tragacanth and a wood burnisher. The saddle soap I currently use also gives the leather a lovely smell.

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A friend of mine is just starting out as a hairdresser. She had this transparent plastic case for the holster she carries her combs and scissors in (there must be an official term for that thing…). The plastic case was falling apart, so I made her this waxed linen case for her birthday. The red part is the same linen the bottom, dyed red with Dylon dye and waxed with my homemade Greenland Wax. The bottom isn’t waxed, neither is the cotton lining. The lining is stitched to the bottom so it won’t turn inside out when you pull out the holster. Most of the construction is the same as this tote bag I made, except for the lining and the zipper. The lining is top-stitched in together with the zipper. The corners of the zipper are hand-stitched to make the whole thing extra bomb-proof.

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Update: I made another one of these, with new leather and red linen for the bottom.

I’ve been using a blue “pukkel” (a Dutch marines supply bag that looks a bit like a haversack, very common in the Netherlands) every day the last couple of years. It’s made out of virtually indestructible canvas, it’s simple and I think it has a certain aesthetic to it that I love. It has a couple of disadvantages: it’s a bit small, and especially a bit too narrow. It wont comfortably fit an A4 sized notepad. And even though it’s small, I always have a hard time finding my stuff in it, since it has no pockets or dividers, it’s just one big compartment.

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Well, it’s been raining for days and in barely a week temperatures have dropped from nearly tropical to 13 celsius. I’ll have to face it, it’s autumn. Time to waterproof my stuff. I read a lot about Greenland wax and otter wax, and though: “that shouldn’t be hard to make”. Turns out, it isn’t! These waxes that are used to waterproof fabrics rarely contain more than two ingredients. I made a three ingredient recipe that smells great and is easy to make.

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On our way to our holiday destination in the south of Slovakia, my girlfriend an I visited Dictum last summer. I think it’s the largest store for traditional tools and supplies, located in southern Bavaria. Judging by the prestige and fame of this shop, I was hoping for a massive store to wander through for hours, picking stuff off the shelves and stacking them in my cart. Sadly, it’s more of a small showroom where you can see and try many of their products. The store is clearly more internet-oriented. Half the stuff I was interested in was not at the actual showroom, but in the warehouse nearby. This was especially so for the materials, such as leather and wood. These I was most hoping to see and pick out myself. Next time I’ll order online.

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