Leather Lunch Tote


I don’t bring my lunch to work as often as I should. And by that, I mean never. What if I had a cool lunch tote? It might not help… but at the very least, it’s a fun project to practice some hand-sewing and to make something interesting.

Lately I’ve been inspired by a number of Japanese leather craft books… such meticulous stitching and thoughtful design. After seeing an interesting small tote in one, I knew I had to try my hand at my own design. I wanted to make it out of one piece of leather, and you can make this that way, but a large cross isn’t an efficient way to chop up your hide – hence me cutting the flaps separate. I had a really amazing hide to work with and just couldn’t waste any.

Whether you need a lunch tote or not, here’s a project that you can modify to make something neat for your own totable needs. The full tutorial is at Design*Sponge here. Check it out, download this pattern, and get to making something.

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38 Responses to “Leather Lunch Tote”

  1. jpierce says:

    one of my favorite posts from you yet…and I have many favorites!

  2. Nice! I’ve got tons of scrap leather and this looks like a fun way to use some of it up. So much more grown-up looking than my nylon lunch bag. Thanks!

  3. Leo says:

    Beautiful design! Could you share any names of these Japanese books or where to get them? They sound like a wealth of inspiration!

  4. Brilliant!! This is absolutely fantastic. Well done!

  5. Ryan says:

    This is really fantastic. Where would you recommend I get a hide similar to this to work with, and can you give a rough estimate of what that hide might cost me? Thanks!

    • MMP says:

      Hi Ryan, I bought this leather at Oregon Leather Co from their surplus bins… enough to make a lunchbox could be around $20, though unfortunately it’s sometimes challenging to buy small quantities of certain leathers. Best of luck!

    • Ry says:

      For scraps, it’s possible to browse Craigslist for free leather couches, drop by with an x-acto and take the leather. Couches have at least several large pieces, usually the back is the least worn area.
      Note: Up to your judgement, but I only do this if the item is too worn for anyone to want it, or if it’s been out awhile. No reason to destroy a nice couch.

  6. megan says:

    love it. I’ll need to make a super sized version to fit all the candy I sneak into my lunch bag.

  7. Hi..
    that good bag .. special to take my lunch to work .. I would like to have one so .. is very elegant and simple …
    Greetings from Paraguay : )

  8. Kim says:

    It’s a very neat project. Could you please tell me what you use to punch the holes for stitching?

  9. Leo says:

    Actually, another question Matt. I noticed you punched holes for your stitches on this project. Is there any benefit of doing it this way over using an awl?

    Thanks a bunch!

    • MMP says:

      The only advantage to a punch is that it’s easier to sew with a larger hole… that being said, you need really thick thread to make it look nice.

  10. Alison says:

    Clever design! I will have to try this out with some recycled vinyl tarps.

  11. Uncle Beefy says:

    Amazing! As always. :)

  12. Parker says:

    Hey Matt,
    Would you mind sharing what type of hide this is? I love the texture and the color.


    • MMP says:

      This hide was a remnant at Oregon Leather Co., so I’m not sure of the tannery, but it has an antiqued finish to it, so you might want to search for that kind of hide. Chrome or combination tanned and it was a pull-up leather… meaning it would change colors as you pulled or put pressure on it. Good luck!

  13. Amazing! This is unreal!

  14. andGrassi says:

    I want one. Love the blog. So many amazing and sexy things here.

  15. Lucas says:

    Great design! Does the handle lose its shape? If so perhaps a second layer of leather and some kind of stiffener could prevent that.

    • MMP says:

      Good thinking, Lucas. For sure, depending on what leather you used, some extra handle work might have to be done.

  16. evan says:

    Dear Matt,

    I am a hobby crafter and interested to start working with leather.

    Any good beginners’ book/blogs to recommend? I’m near clueless about the types of leather and tools needed to start.

    • MMP says:

      Evan, a great way to get a good start is digging through some Al Stohlman books. If there’s a Tandy Leather near you, go take a look. Otherwise, I’ve bought a couple on amazon. Also, Leatherworker.net is a nice forum with a lot of helpful folks. Good luck!

  17. Emily says:

    Matt! so nice to meet you in person today! Love this tote! how clever and simple.

  18. I Think i have revisited this post at least 10 times now. What a great idea! This makes me want to make some leather projects soon. Love your work. Keep it coming!

  19. ATLeather says:

    Killer stuff. Can you point us towards some of the best of the Japanese leather working books you’ve discovered? Thanks!

  20. Lorraine says:

    Nice bag! I wanted to know how many holes per inch you are using. The mkst i can find in mine is 7per inch. I was looking for 9 per inch. If yours is arkund 8 or 9 can u let me know where you got your stitch marker from? Thanks

    • MMP says:

      I think that was a 5 or a 6. If you want something with more stitches, search for ‘CS Osborne overstitch wheel’.

  21. Amos says:

    Where can one purchase if arts and crafts isn’t most feasible?