Leather tote bags are kind of our specialty at KMM & Co. It all started with the standard tote, a design that we've made for thousands of customers over the years. We recently introduced the mini tote for shoppers who want something smaller than the standard tote. And today we're launching the carryall for people who want something bigger!
Take a look behind-the-scenes at how our biggest tote is made. Hint: It's made by hand, the old-fashioned way, just like everything else in the KMM & Co. lineup.
1. First, we cut out the pieces for the carryall
While our standard tote is made from a single piece of leather, we chose a different approach with the design of the carryall. This design consists of many pieces: A front piece, a back piece, a front exterior pocket, a back exterior pockets, a three-piece gusset, and more. Each of those pieces is cut by hand.
2. Next, we prepare the pieces for assembly
Once all the pieces are cut, they have to be prepared for assembly. Some pieces get skived, which ensures perfect seams later. And others get some hand-stitched details to hold everything together in perfect alignment.
3. We stitch the pockets on first
The carryall is designed with two exterior pockets, one of our most-requested features! Once all of the pieces are ready for assembly, we stitch those interior pockets onto the body pieces first. These seams stabilize the design. And they're stitched on an industrial sewing machine with heavy thread to ensure that they can't go anywhere.
4. Then, we begin to assemble the gusset of the bag
A large tote like the carryall needs to be constructed a little differently from our standard leather totes. So we designed a three-piece gusset to give it plenty of stability (and a roomy interior). The pieces of the gusset get stitched together with a beautiful topstitch, and then get riveted for extra durability.
5. Then, we prepare the body of the bag for stitching
After we assemble the gusset, the next step involves getting the gusset onto the body of the bag. It's a time-consuming process to precisely align all of the pieces of the bag. (And it typically involves a lot of binder clips, which help us align and stabilize the pieces before they get stitched together.)
6. Next, we slowly and carefully stitch the gusset onto the bag
This next step requires a careful eye and a patient hand. Using heavy-duty thread, we stitch the seams of the bag, attaching the gusset to the front and back of the carryall. These seams have to be carefully constructed for both durability and aesthetics. So slow and steady is the way to go.
7. Then, we turn the carryall right-side-out
You may have noticed that up to this point in the process, we assemble and stitch the carryall inside-out. So eventually, we have to turn the bag right-side-out. The process takes some careful maneuvering (and a whole lot of patience). Robust, structured leathers like the ones we choose for this large tote aren't easy to turn.
8. We prepare the finishing touch: the handles
Once the carryall is turned right-side out, we're in the home stretch! So we can move on to the final step: adding handles to the bag. The handles are carefully cut by hand, and when they're attached to the bag will have a 9-inch drop length.
9. The handles get attached to the carryall body
Here's where it all comes together! We affix the handles to the carryall with traditional copper rivets. Copper rivets may not be common anymore. But we still use them at the KMM & Co. studio because they're the most durable hardware for attaching handles to a bag. Once they're set, they're not going anywhere.
10. We give it a final inspection (and then snap a few photos for good measure!)
Finally, the carryall is finished! We give it a final inspection to make sure that every detail looks perfect. After all, it's an heirloom-quality bag, and we want to make sure that it will last a lifetime and beyond. Then, we can step back and admire our handiwork -- and snap a few photos to remember it by!
We hope you enjoyed the behind-the-scenes at the making of a carryall, the biggest leather tote bag in the KMM & Co. line. You can shop our carryall collection, or take a look at all of the different bags we make. And don't forget to look behind-the-scenes at how our standard leather tote bags are made.