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Make an Indiana Jones Satchel (plus Tips for Working with Thrifted Leather)

25 June 2010 14,942 views 8 Comments

by heather

This handmade Indiana Jones satchel, like the Upholstery Sample Backpack, was made for my 3 year-old son. And, like the backpack, it's a quick project that is elegant in its simplicity. My son really enjoys the Lego Indiana Jones game, and loves to pretend he's Indy. And what would Indy be without his satchel? I used a panel from a leather skirt to make this purse, and it only took me about twenty minutes to put together. If you don't have any thrifted leather lying around, how about a couple pieces of wool, craft felt, imitation leather, brown fleece, or scrap fabric? Any of these will work well for a play satchel.

Just like yesterday's project, this is quick and dirty, and doesn't have any of the niceties I would include on a purse for myself (like extra pockets, lining, topstitching, or finished edges). I think it's a pretty handsome leather purse, though, honestly! It's a fabulous Indy satchel, and although my preschool son can't appreciate how nice it is, I'm hoping it will last for a couple years (when he will probably appreciate it a bit more).

Project Estimate:

  • Thrifted leather garment, $1 and up (probably more than $1)
  • Leather needle for your sewing machine, $1 (a pack of 5 for about $3-5)
  • Metal rings and clips, a pack of 100 for about $3
  • Thread, scissors, etc.

Total: $3 and up

Find out how to make the Indiana Jones satchel on page 2, how to work with thrifted leather on page 3

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  • Kathy V. said:

    What a great idea! I can see Lewis running around with this on. Now he needs an Indy hat.

  • Samantha said:

    Thanks for the info. I have a big piece of thrifted leather. Not sure what I’m going to make yet, but thanks for the tip on not sticking pins in it.

  • Dana said:

    I got a leather jacket at a yardsale a few weeks ago for $.25! Yep, a brown leather jacket for a quarter! I bought it knowing I’d take it apart and make something else out of it. Haven’t found the perfect project yet, but, thanks to you, have an idea of how to take it apart and use the pieces.


  • Mich L. said:

    Such a cool one! I think it looks really fancy and finished, even though you say it’s quick and dirty. Good tips on working with leather, thanks, Heather!

  • Indy Crafting (Indiana Jones, that is) | Croq Zine - The Blog said:

    […] of a panel of a leather skirt (thrifted). It came together in about 15 minutes. Instructions for how to make an Indiana Jones bag are at my other site, Dollar Store Crafts. Hat: These felt hats are amazing! They were made by […]

  • Leather Bags: How to Make a Purse out of a Shirt Sleeve | Dollar Store Crafts said:

    […] I didn't add finishing details for this purse because I made it as a play satchel (in the spirit of Indiana Jones) for my younger son. I really like the shape of the purse, though, and I think it would be a nice […]

  • Dollar Store Crafts » Blog Archive » Project {Dollar Store} Accessory: Thrifty Challenge Reveal and Linkup! said:

    […] Because the pendant piece is a substantial size (4-1/2 inches wide), I used a very thick 30" chain from my stash. I got the chain a few months ago from my favorite craft thrift store, Knittn' Kitten in Portland. This pendant will definitely dress up a plain white tee! Tip for sewing leather: use a leather needle on your sewing machine – they only cost a couple of bucks and help you avoid a world of frustration. I wrote a post about sewing with leather, so check it out for more tips for working with leather. […]

  • Katherine Anderson said:


    Are you telling us to sew the leather with a sewing machine or by hand? Many years ago I found a BUNCH of different color, pattern and width leather that a store going out of business was going to throw away! I grabbed it. The problem is that I have tried to 2 leather pieces together with a sewing machine but it stitches didn’t hold.
    What should I do.

    Thank you,

    Katherine Anderson