Document case number 3 (for sale)

This is my third document case those of you who are fully awake may have got that from the title ūüėÄ.

This case has three compartments with two dividers inside my plan is to turn one of these around and add padding and a zip to form a pocket.


It has taken a long time to find a suitable zip as I wanted one with two pulls that meet in the middle the problem is the zip is brown and the bag has a redish tint. I have some red suede that I was planning to use for the interior so I may need to look at other options as the red and brown may look odd.

This case has a couple of issues there is a tear on the front panel at the side of the brass catch and the gusset piece is well in two pieces it should be one piece.


I am going to fix the front panel first if that cannot be repaired then I will scrap the whole bag.


This process involves thinning the back of the leather with the round knife to a point where I can glue a patch to the back.


When the patch and original leather are around the original thickness it is glued in place. The catch will be rivited back in place after the suede has been fitted adding more strength to that area when I sew the suede I will be careful to avoid the area that was torn.



Where the patch is slightly thicker around the edges I have used the round knife to thin the edges so when the suede is in place they will not be seen.


I thought the gusset piece would be a simple repair as it is torn in half but when I looked closely it has also been torn along the sewn edge which has acted like perforations I could trim both sides and lose one of the dividers but then I won’t have enough dividers for a pocket time for some tea and a think.

I am still thinking about the gusset my current thinking is I will just make a new one that will possibly be the best solution.

In the mean time I have finished cleaning the other pieces of the case picking out all of the thread is very time consuming but it has to be done.

Here is the front panel it has a bad water stain along the bottom but it adds to the patina


The rest of the panels are also ready all of the original thread has been removed the red suede liner will be accented by the red thread that I will use to stitch the outside of the case together.


As you can see from the picture above the gusset piece has parted along the bend right on the corner. I had hoped to be able to repair the tear by joining a piece behind the tear and gluing and sewing the pieces together to create ¬†a seam that would have been almost invisible. Because the tear is on the corner it will create some issues. My first thought was to make a replacement gusset which although not easy is a good option I could replace half of the gusset but that would mean a join on the bottom of the case this is quite common I have another case awaiting restoration which has a join. The water mark on the front a rear of this case is quite prominent and although it adds character I would rather it was not there ūüėÄ.

I know these cases are not new they are all pre 1970 and some are much earlier than that I need to thin my collection as I have way too many bags and cases they will all be offered for sale in the coming months so if anyone is looking for a project let me know.

I had to make a decision about the gusset piece in the end I decided to make a replacement piece. The tear was right on the corner and there and was a strip missing from the outside edge where the stitching had been torn away.

I cut a panel from a piece of kip leather to a similar size.


To create the shape I wet the leather and folded it inside the good side and used clips to hold it in place.


Once the leather was dry I trimmed the torn leather away and thinned down the freshly cut edge and glued the two pieces together with a substantial overlap.


The next step will be to dye the new piece as close to the current colour as possible. then I can star to line the inside with the cognac suede.

I mixed three dyes together that I thought would get me somewhere near to the original gusset. Here it is with the dye still wet.


The gusset piece is a darker colour than the rest of the case and has more of a red tint to it.

Getting the colour somewhere close is not easy especially as there is now way of knowing what the colour will look like until it has dried.


The way these cases are made this is the bottom and the left and right sides all in one piece.


I mixed some of the dye with some polish and polished the rest of the piece wit it to help the new section to blend in.

While waiting for dye to dry I was also working on the zip for the two dividers normally the dividers finished side faced forward so I have turned the back divider around and plan to pad it and cover in suede to form a pocket.


To start I glued everything in place then I was able to mark out and punch the holes for sewing.



Four lines of stitching took a long time but it is done now.

The handle had already lost most of its stitching and was open although I was able to pull both sides together and sew it up.


Those who are eagle eyed may have also noticed that the straps have also been sewn back in place. As I am lining the inside of the flap in suede it will also require stitching around the front so I will mark and punch those holes.


Before I can proceed any further I need to decide about a shoulder strap normally I would attach the fixing points to the gusset centre divider for added strength. As this case has an extra divider I would add extra leather to the gusset and attach the fixing points there. It is also possible to make a fixing point on the top of the case on the same support bar as the handle it actually has hole in it already to facilitate this.


These are my current fittings which are clearly new but I think that is ok. the case has been restored and the addition of a shoulder strap updates an older case.


In fact¬†this case could have been made any time from the 1930 s to the 1960 s I think this ¬†a fair guess as the handle insert is made from wood rather than pressed for steel as steel would have been in short supply during war time, that is just a guess ūüôā

I must say I am not a perfectionist, I am not a perfectionist. The repaired gusset does not meet my standards. And if I am going to add a strap which I am. I want the gusset to be strong enough to hold whatever may be carried in the case.

So I paid a visit to my favourite¬†purveyor of finest quality leather “Le Prevo” in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Where I selected a suitable piece of leather and handed over many ¬£¬£¬£¬£¬£s.

I also purchased a ready cut strap although I did select 20 mm¬† as I plan on using smaller snap hooks and¬†“D” rings on this case I will get another strap as the 2o mm one is too thin.

I like the smaller snap hooks and “D” rings but I don’t like the thinner strap so that has been donated to my daughters projects it has been replaced by a 25 mm one.

Dealing with edges is actually quite simple just as well because there are lots on these straps. An edge tool is used to remove the corners from each side of the strap. there is also a strap end tool to shape the ends. These names may not be correct but you get the idea.


Once the corners have been removed the edges need a little moisture many people use saliva I prefer tap water and a small sponge.


Yes that is a sneak peak of the finished strap as I cant find the original picture with the slicking tool. the friction between the wooden tool and the wet leather causes the fibres to stick together and lie flat. I then use beeswax to fill any tiny pores and give a smooth and shiny finish.

Here are the strap components before dye both sizes of brassware are in this picture 20 mm and 25 mm I have tapered the strap ends to fit the smaller buckles


Here are the joining pieces that¬†carry the buckles and¬†allow the strap to be adjusted many cases only have adjustment on one side but I like the symmetry and I don’t care about the cost :).


Completed strap and its extra bits


Back to the gusset I don’t know why I thought I would be happy with a repair it looked fine and no one would have noticed unless they turned the case upside down and looked closely but I would have known. Anyway as I mentioned earlier it needed to be replaced doing that involved a trip to the supplier and quite a lot of money to buy a whole hide.


One of the curious things about buying leather is that although it is priced by the square foot it is sold by the hide and there is quite a lot of waste on a hide. This small hide was £75 I am much happier now that I have a replacement gusset.


It may look like I have cut the replacement much larger but once the bends are in place it wont be far off.


Time to add some colour


A little antiquing to make it a little darker.


Whilst waiting for other things to dry I took the opportunity to start the lining process



Once the suede has been glued to the leather I rough trimmed around the edges and started marking out the additional stitching holes. I like all of the edges which have lining to have a stitched detail. Along the top of the front panel and all along the front edge of the flap.

I also trim back the suede from the edges of the front and back pieces where the case will be stitched together. Like this


I will also skive (thin down) along this edge so there is no lump when the pieces are fixed together.

Before going any further I had to overcome a major problem as one of the dividers had been reversed the holes would be in a slightly different place. As I had also replaced the entire gusset piece all of those original holes had also gone.

Where the gusset piece wraps around the dividers is also where it is sewn in place ideally I wanted to locate the original holes in the dividers which now formed the pocket. I also needed to work out the position of the mounting points for the strap which need to be on the gusset piece. The lining would also cause me some issues.

There has been a lot of tea drinking and head scratching involved in working out how I was going to achieve this.



I used two pairs of dividers their size does not matter, one of the points has been taped up to prevent unwanted marks on the leather.


I transferred the top hole from the divider to the gusset piece and then used the dividers with the tape on to mark the distance from the edge and the second set of dividers to mark the distance between the holes as I don’t have a pricking iron of the correct size to mark the holes. This added many hours to the process but I now have a pair of dividers forming a pocket which is both lined and padded.

The lining of the gusset piece would have made it almost impossible to sew the pieces together. to resolve this issue I have decided to line the outer sections of the gusset separately and to make a padded lined inset for the pocket. I hope that this is clear but if it is not I will be showing more pictures later in this project.

Here is the trial fit of the front panel to the new gusset. Now here is my confession at some point I decided to allow extra width to the gusset piece which came back to haunt me so many times.


Here is the top view of the front piece to check the position.


After much messing around and fiddling with position I finally started to sew the front panel in place.


Now that the front Panel is sewn in place and the excess has been trimmed off I can think about attaching the rear Panel.


Remember these strap end pieces.


Now that the front is attached it is time to start attaching the rear panel.


I have also made replacement strap mounts as I did not like the dark colour of the first pair.


I have prepared the thread for sewing the rear panel it is brown linen 4 cord which I have waxed with pure beeswax.


The thread is approximately 24 feet long regular readers may remember I like to sew long runs with a single piece of thread. It makes life quite difficult managing so much thread but I prefer that to having joints.

I have almost finished the stitching of the rear panel in my rests between stitching I started to refit the brass hasp or fastener whatever you prefer to call it.

As the thickness of the leather and suede has changed I had to open the hasp a little which would have meant elongating the holes which I did not want to do so I shaved a couple of mm from the edge. This will not affect the closure of the case but does mean that the original holes can be used.


The brass piece is kept in place by three rivets as the original rivets were filed down to remove them I ordered some replacements. Unfortunately they were not big enough ¬†I don’t know if you can tell from this picture but the rivet just bent inside the hole.

The only solution is to make my own rivets from brass rod this needs to be the diameter of the head rather than the hole. I have done this before it takes time but means I can get the exact size I want.


After some time with a set of files and some cheating by using an electric drill I cut the rivets with a jewellers saw.


Three rivets holding the hasp in place just like new but better ūüôā

Almost there now just the edges to finish



The starting point for edges is sanding lots of sanding after a bit more sanding it is normal to use edge kote on the edges it is available in various colours including brown which is what I used. The problem is it is brown and shiny and I did not like it so I sanded it off yes even more sanding. The edges are still dark but not as dark as they were and the shine is from the beeswax that I have used to seal the edges which have also been burnished.


These edges are not finished yet¬†although they are smooth they are not good enough another few hours and they will be ok I am not looking for perfection because I am not a perfectionist “I AM NOT ” I have to keep saying that.

Here are the final pictures of the finished case the case was taken apart and cleaned then lined in cognac suede. The case was then hand sewn back together using Barbour brown linen thread. A brass toothed zip was added between the two dividers to form a pocket.




Thanks to everyone who has managed to stick with this project to the end

I have reduced the price for this case to £180 sterling plus delivery.












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