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The Easy Way To Make Motorcycle Saddlebags


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#1 Ian

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 09:53 PM

When I made the last little bike bag, I took pictures as I was doing it to share with another leathercraftsman. Maybe someone could use some of the info.

First, this method works for any size or shape of saddlebag, whether its a slant, straight, big bagger style or the little single bobber bag I just did. You can either make the seams lap, like this one, or invert the seams by sewing the bag inside out and then turning it. The only thing with inverted seams is that turning them rightside out is a real muscle job and you need to soak the bag until it's soft.

This is the first saddlebag I've made with undyed leather. I've always used latigo, bridle or harness leather around 10oz

First, make your pattern. There are actually only 2 main pieces to figure out, - the front panel (same as back) and the flap. No need to make a pattern for the gussets. Then, there's small pieces like the weather flaps and buckle chafes. On a set of bags you'll make a yoke. If I'm making a set for a specific bike, I dont bother making the yoke in 2 pieces, becuse the size will never have to be adjusted. The yoke will vary depending on where the seat sits and the rear lights. I do yokes with either 2 layers of 4/5oz chrome tanned, or suede on the inside layer.

(1) OK, heres the pieces cut out

(2) Next, I stamped the little insert piece for the lid. That's just the design I thought of - usually the flap is just straight across and the straps are added after

(3) The lid dyed and assembled. I almost always line my small bags or just the lid on big bags with whatever upholstery or garment leather I have on hand. (note the very obvious stitching screw-up)

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#2 Ian

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 10:03 PM

(4) After attaching the buckle, I sew on the gusset. I groove the entire inside length on both side about 1/8" further in than I'll be sewing the seam. Don't sew right on the fold, because it's weak.
I soak the gusset until it's very soft,. When I'm sewing the two pieces, I hold them separately and guide them together along the edge guide. It's a little tricky going around the corners, just remember to keep the gusset going straight and turn the front panel as you sew.

Another thing, it's easier to make the gusset longer than you need and cut it off after than to trust your measurement that it will end up exactly on the other side.

(5) Gusset sewn on

(6) Next I sew The flap/lid onto the back panel

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#3 johnny7

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 10:14 PM

looking good, can't wait to see the finished bag!!

#4 Ian

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 10:20 PM

(7) I then turn the edges of the back of the gusset to make a flange and let it dry overnight. Then it gets glued to the back panel

(8) This picture is the back panel sewn on, along with my big error. I intended to sew the weather flaps onto the gusset before I sewed the back on. As it went, I had to rivet them on after the bag was made.

(9) At this point the bag is pretty much assembled. The edges get finished - I also put an ABS liner in - and as with the usual bag design, the straps get attached. Until you are sure your pattern is just right, it's a good idea to attach the buckles and straps last to be sure they all line up. If you're making a set of bags with a yoke, you can rivet it on last (using long double cap rivets - you can get monster rivets from Ohio Travel Bag), or sew it on at the same as you sew the lid to the back panel.
If you're making bolt-on bags you need to sew a wide strip of material to the back were the bolts go through - or if you're doing the back panels in hard rubber, it just bolts right through the rubber back. Wait until you line up the bags on the bike before you drill the holes.

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#5 Ian

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 10:23 PM

You can see the same construction with this set of bags except these are done with inverted seams and are bolt-ons

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#6 Beaverslayer

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 10:31 PM

Tan, great job here, I know there are going to be a few people very happy that you took the time to put this tutorial together for us. It is always so very much appreciated when people take time away from thier work to do pictures and write instructions so others can benifit from our knowledge.

And for being such a new member, My hat is off to you for doing this.

Thank you very much, and keep up the great work. Love your bag by the way.

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#7 leatheroo

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 02:34 AM

sweet sweet bag.....if only i still had my motorbike...oh the memories!!!

#8 TomSwede

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 06:16 AM

That is a nice and good informative piece of tutorial. Very noble of you Ian!
I sure wished I had the time to fully document current work but I'm just hanging here to much, lol.
I probably do it when I get a bit more routine of doing this kind of item.

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#9 rdb

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 12:10 PM

Great tutorial, Ian. Thanks for sharing. That's the best part of this site. You get to show off AND help others.

These bags may seem simple to you, but to others they are a mystery, so your help is most appreciated, and I'm sure will inspire someone to attempt.
Railroads, Barbed wire, Cement sidewalks; The worlds moving so fast, I don't know how a man can keep up!

#10 Ian

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 12:25 PM

. That's the best part of this site. You get to show off AND help others.


Dave, this site is awesome, for sure. When I was doing that bag, I was super conscious of every little screw-up, because I thought "some eagle eye on the forum will spot that in a second". It can't help but improve quality.
I've only been reading this forum for a few weeks and have got tons of outstanding tips. It seems that no matter what question I have, I can find someone else who has already answered it in great depth.
The big problem is how addictive it is - the posts go up so fast, I'm scared to miss anything.

#11 manfrommuc

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 07:37 AM

thats great.....


thx

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#12 Ian

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 07:46 AM

thats great.....


thx

johann


Johann, from your website, it looks like you like motorcycle art. Here's another cool link for you

http://www.ryanlean.com/

#13 manfrommuc

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 04:20 AM

yes ian


this site is great.........


thanks a lot

johann
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#14 David

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 07:49 AM

Ian,
Great tutorial, thanks a bunch for posting it.
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#15 anne newkold

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 10:20 AM

thanks for sharing! another thing to add to the list to try to make!





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