saving a saddlebag

The repair café was especially busy this month; we had sandals, a stool and six bags to rejuvenate and I had some really vintage beauties! The one shown in the picture is a particularly marvellous saddle bag. Thonged together with lengths of leather rather than sewn and really intricately embossed by hand. Embossing or ‘tooling’ leather is an ancient skill, you can see examples of it from the earliest human settlements. During the Medieval period, tooled leather signified wealth and status. Saddles, book covers, furniture, weaponry, armour, drinking vessels and all manner of everyday objects were produced with hand carved tool work, often gilded with gold leaf or intricately coloured. Tooled leather enjoyed a huge revival during the 60’s and 70’s, as can be seen on this lovely 70’s saddle bag; it has been much loved over the years. We cut a new thong and replaced the torn strap on one end with a re-purposed piece of saddle leather.

In America it has been taken to the level of an art form. More commonly called ‘carving’ veg tanned leather is generally used, because the more tanning process allows it to absorb water, this softens the surface (a process called ‘casing’) and allows the carver to score, cut and emboss patterns and images in relief, the leather can then be dyed or polished to finish the final pattern.

In the next few months, we will be delivering a variety of workshops across the North of England and into Scotland. Have a look at, they offer a fantastic selection of creative residential workshops, set in beautiful grounds in Stirlingshire. The week that we will be there they are also offering millinery, hill walking and macrame courses.

We are also very excited to be running a tote bag workshop at a new venue in Orrell, called the ‘The little workshop’  Unique Gifts, Artisan Shop, The Little Workshop Orrell, Wigan ( and places can be booked for this course at Eventbrite Make a Leather Tote Bag -£70 Tickets, Wed 17 Jul 2024 at 10:00 | Eventbrite


#repairandrecycle #the_little_workshop_no14 #leathergoods #ukcrafts #handmadeleather #uniquegifts #leatherworkshops #ukhandmade #learnacraft #gartmorehouse