Gladstone bag No 1

I like Gladstone type bags and cases. Having watched some videos on youtube I was keen to have a go and started watching auction sites looking for prospects for restoration.

bag 12

bag 12 a

Vintage Gladstone bag no 3

I am no expert and to my eyes this bag looked great. I though from the description and pictures that it had started life as a brown bag which had then been dyed black later in its life.
My plan was to take it apart and learn how it was made then put it back together with fresh stitching and a smart lining.

When the bag arrived it was clear that my assumptions were a little wide of the mark

Vintage Gladstone bag no 3

Vintage Gladstone bag no 3

These pictures show the inside of the bag with the compartments sewn into the sides of the bag. They were quite difficult to see clearly whilst the bag was intact.
Once the bag had been dis assembled it was much easier to see the compartments.

Gladstone bag restoration project

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The frame stripped out from the bag

Gladstone bag restoration project

My first plan was to replace only the leather that was worn out or was rotten unfortunately it turned out that most of the leather fitted into one of these category’s. Even the leather that was used as piping was falling apart as I removed it.

Gladstone bag restoration project

Once the decision was made to replace all of the leather I laid everything out and started making templates

Gladstone bag restoration project

Once I had a set of templates I went to Le Prevo my leather suppliers and asked their advice on the best type of leather to use for this bag.

Gladstone bag restoration project

I should have used a sharpie to mark out the templates but if you look closely you can see the pencil marks the ruler is 500 mm it will give you an idea of the size of the hide.

A few cuts later and we have a bag well almost. There are two pieces of kip leather which is thinner and more flexible for the upper end pieces which need to fold to allow the bag to close.
Here you can see the original on the left and the replacement panel on the right.

Gladstone bag restoration project

The next stage was to apply the dye when I was taking the bag apart I discovered the original colour was black the leather inside the seams was black.
With this in mind I cleared my outside work space and started dying everything black.

After the dye had dried I began the assembly I cut strips of black suede and folded them to replace the folded leather that was previously in between the joints.
I used mini clips to hold everything together and then began sewing

Gladstone bag restoration project

I started with the bottom plate and worked around attaching the ends and sides as I went.
As this was my first experience with working inside out and also with piping although the piping was empty it was still a challenge.

Gladstone bag restoration project

The close up of the end piece shows the lower end piece in place with the base and first side sewn in place.

Gladstone bag restoration project

It took weeks to work my way around the bag sewing all of the joints together in the picture above you can see the lengths of folded suede waiting to be sewn into the joint.

My plan for the inside was to use red suede. I knew it would be difficult to line the upper end panels once they were in place so I decided to line those pieces before fitting. I also glued some suede over the other joints at the same time

Gladstone bag restoration project

Gladstone bag restoration project

Gladstone bag restoration project

The case shell is now complete I made another set of templates for the card that will line the inside of the bag after being wrapped in suede of course.

After soaking in cold water for about an hour I was able to turn the bag the right way out.

Gladstone bag restoration project

Gladstone bag restoration project

Gladstone bag restoration project

When the leather is this wet it does not have any strength, As the leather begins to dry out it will regain that rigidity. It is important to ensure that the bag maintains the required shape as it dries.

After being left to dry for a couple of days I test fitted the interior card pieces

Gladstone bag restoration project

During the breaks waiting for things to dry I stripped down the metal frame with its assorted locks and catches

Gladstone bag restoration project

I think the metal frame had been painted although it may have been painted and then wrapped in leather but I decided to paint it anyway.
This is my first attempt at painting with metal paint not good at all.

Gladstone bag restoration project

Gladstone bag restoration project

After a re think I decided to go to rattle can spray paint with much better results.

Gladstone bag restoration project

Gladstone bag restoration project

There was no key and the lock mechanism did not work at all so I stripped it down and cleaned and repaired the mechanism.

Gladstone bag restoration project

Gladstone bag restoration project

I also made a replacement key

Gladstone bag restoration project

Back together but inside out so you can see the mechanism picture one unlocked picture two locked

Gladstone bag restoration project

Gladstone bag restoration project

Here is the frame and handle assembly complete with lock and catches

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I decided to keep the old handle as it was in fair condition although as it has not yet been attached to the bag then it may be changed

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I have been busy lately and as this bag was not a commission purely something I wanted to do these are the most up to date pictures.

Gladstone bag restoration project

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I do intend to finish this bag in the coming weeks and decide whether to keep it or let it go.

When I started this project I decided to paint the metal frame as I did not have the skills required to wrap it in leather. I was happy with the painted finish until I started to assemble the bag.

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One slip with the screw driver and catastrophe a nice deep scratch.

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I thought about repainting the frame however I decided to have a go wrapping it in leather.
With the help of some scrap leather and a box of clips I started forming the leather around the frame.
The clips are not coated or painted so they will turn the leather black it is a chemical reaction between the metal and the leather wire wool is often dissolved in white vinegar to make a solution called vinegaroon to dye leather black.

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The front and rear sections are now wrapped and this morning I began wrapping the side pieces

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It is important to remember not to glue the joint section. I have just finished forming the final side piece.

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11 thoughts on “Gladstone bag No 1

  1. yeah, the totally casual way he says ‘I made a replacement key’ that struck me too 😛

    Michael, thanks for mentioning the reaction of the metal clips to the undyed leather! I had no idea but it’s so useful to know that, everyone should who is interested in leather.

    The red suede inside is just priceless – love the glamorous touch in a very proper bag like a Gladstone 😛

    Are you planning to recreate the cool compartments, or add some similar ones maybe?

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    1. my original plan was to keep everything as original but I did not like the stitching on the outside of the bag. Also as I plan to use it as an overnight bag should I ever need one, I decided to leave the inside empty.

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  2. Hi there 🙂
    I was so excited about this post but then I saw that it was never finished 😦
    I want to make a gladstone bag so badly, found clasp even, but no clue where to go from here..
    Can you help?
    Thanks so much!

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  3. Hi Lotty
    I still have every intention of finishing this case unfortunately I have a limited amount of time for my own projects. My issue is my lovely red suede lining which has increased the thickness of material where it joins the metal frame the ends that fold are a thinner leather anyway but need to be very thin at this point.
    My solution involves removing a strip of suede and stitching along the edges to keep the suede in place.
    I have a gap in my schedule soon where I plan to finish this case unless paid work comes along.
    I would be happy to help you if I can.
    Michael

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  4. Jeez mate, can you cut a few Keys for me as I have 2 Bags without Keys.
    Could you also replace the Leather Straps on a Gladstone Bag ?.
    What is your E-Mail address ?. Do you live in Australia ?…

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    1. Hi Tony Oh I often wish I lived in Australia. I live in the UK which is not quite as warm 🙂
      My email is the same as the blog at gmail.com. Cutting keys is difficult without seeing the lock but not impossible. I have a number of customers in Australia although shipping is a little expensive. Please feel free to email me and I will help any way I can.
      Michael

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      1. Hey Mike !,
        Australia is soo overrated and you are much better off in the U.K.
        I could send you an image of the Key, however the Bag is in great condition and would be around 1950’s-1960’s ??? It’s just a standard Lock.
        The side Straps could do with a replacement, however I don’t know how to fit new ones in case the old Holes get too big.
        Out of interest, were these Gladstone Bags sold in the U.K. ?.
        Do you know what sizes they were available in ?.
        Send me an E-Mail and I’ll give you some Pics of my Gladstone Bags…
        I don’t think I can upload images on this site.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think the grass is always greener on the other side as they say 🙂
        Gladstone bags originated in the UK and were named after the former Prime minister William Gladstone. There are 100s of style of bags with many different locks. I would expect it to be a single lever lock simple but effective they have many different post and shaft diameters. which is why they are different. They were made in many sizes from small nurses bags 10 inches long to 3 feet long.
        Straps are usually quite straightforward pictures are a great idea please feel free to email them to me it is the same name as the blog at gmail.com

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