Since starting my leatherwork journey all those years ago I have been passionate about designing bespoke equestrian-themed bags.

The Stirrup Handbag

Stirrup Bag

Most recently, I designed the Stirrup bag, which depicts the shape of an English stirrup iron.

Hand cut from natural russet leather. The design is carved and tooled to form the shape and definition of a stirrup iron, by hand.

The stirrup design is painted in acrylic silver. Also the middle of the stirrup design is stained in a deep black dye to finish the look.

Before the bag is constructed the front panels are lined in a beautiful black suede. Finally, the black soft leather gusset is handstitched in a silver waxed linen thread.

Horseshoe Barrel Bag

Last year, I made the Horseshoe Barrel bag as my entry to the ‘President’s Choice’ class, at the National Saddlery Competition, in London.

I had previously received a pair of very old bowls bags that were in desperate need of repair and restoration. Whilst the bags were laid out flat, patterns were taken.

Shortly afterwards, I decided to use the patterns to make a bespoke equestrian-themed bag of my own.

For me, it was a natural progression to make the circular side panels of the bag into a tooled horseshoe design. At the same time, I had seen my horse’s farrier post images, on social media, of Heart-bar horseshoes that he was having to design for some horses he was treating. I then designed the image I wanted to carve and tool.

The main bag is made from a one-off piece of antique brown shoulder leather purchased from the Sedgwick’s leather.

All panels are lined in a black suede with the side panels ‘box-stitched’ to the main bag panel.

The bag closes using two solid brass buckles and the handle suspends from solid brass fittings also.

This is currently for sale if you wish to add a unique bespoke designed handbag to your collection.

Recycled Saddle Flap Bag

Whilst training I was given a few saddles that were past their riding life but were too good to be sent to landfill.

I decided to strip one of the saddles down and repurpose the leather to make a bag or two. After stripping all the leather off the existing saddle I thoroughly cleaned and treated it.

I cut both saddle flaps symmetrically into the desired shape and then handstitched the saddle’s panel of soft leather as the bag’s gusset.

An existing girth strap was used to close the panels together. I then made a new shoulder strap from Sedgwick bridle leather, finished off with a solid brass headcollar buckle.

I have kept this bag for myself as I love it so much, but I still have some leather remaining from the existing saddle as well as approximately another four saddles to repurpose.

Horseshoe Saddle Bag

This horseshoe saddlebag is the first bag I designed the tooling from scratch.

After finishing a one day leather carving workshop at Tandy Leather in Northampton, I had the idea to make a round bag with a horseshoe design.

After designing the shape and size of the bag I then cut it out of natural Russet leather. I tooled the front panel and part of the back panel that would become the front flap.

The design was that of a horseshoe with the front panel folding over to look like the frog of a horse’s hoof.

Once the tooling was completed I stained and then stitched by hand. Finally, I made a shoulder strap and a belt loop so it can be utilised as a shoulder bag or a belt bag. Either way it became my favourite bag ever.

Saddle Shaped Backpack

The first bag I ever made was this saddle-shaped backpack. My daughter wanted a new bag to take to school and she decided on an equestrian-themed leather one.

I designed it on paper first and then made a mock up in card before cutting it out of soft white chrome leather.

The front flap shaped to look like a saddle with decorative stitching in a purple colour was used to define the saddle details. A stirrup buckle (with the thong cut off) was used to imitate a stirrup iron.

The inside was lined in a purple polyester material and I made a pocket too so my daughter could separate her smaller items from the main compartment.

A shoulder strap was made that could also be used as backpack straps which is how my daughter ended up wearing it.

I think you’ll agree, you will not find another bag like it anywhere.

Well, that’s it for this week. Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading about some of my bespoke bag work.

I look forward to hearing from the next person who has an idea for a bespoke one-of-a-kind equestrian-themed bag design.

Until then, #staysafe.

Clair xxx


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