All you braintanners know the situation: You have successfully tanned all those neat pelts and skins and now you wonder what the heck to do with them.
Well, I had two raccoon skins in my closet for a while and did not want to make them into Davy Crocket coon skin hats. First of all, it is almost never cold enough, where I live, to be able to wear such a piece of clothing and, on the other hand, I already have half a dozen fur hats lying around. So, I decided to fashion one of the raccoon skins into a bag. I like the design of the bag because it preserves and shows all the features typical of the animal and makes it easy to identify. Here is how to make it.
Drawing 1 shows the flesh side of the skin. It is already cut into the pieces to be used. The two square-like pieces and the tail will be used for the bag, while the leg and belly parts get discarded. To cut the skin, I recommend a sharp knife as opposed to scissors. A knife will cut the skin, but leave the fur undamaged.
Drawings 2 and 3 show how the face of the animal will be brought
to the front in order to be the flap. The tail simply gets sewn
to the front part of the bag.
The last drawing shows how a border of cloth or leather gets
sewn all the way around to connect the two pieces to form the
bag. You could simply sew the two pieces together without the
cloth strip, but this only gives you a very small pouch. The cloth
insert strip increases the size of the bag and also adds a nice
color contrast. The last thing to do is to attach the carrying
strap to the cloth insert and your bag is finished.
My raccoon bag is about 9 inches by 9 inches square and 1 1/2 inches deep. The little black beads sewn to the cloth are seeds that I collected from an unidentified tree-like shrub that is fairly common where I live. The bag got me a lot of attention. People are usually either amused, surprised, or shocked when they hear of its origin. It is definitely "cooler" than something you can buy at The Gap. The only sweatshop labor involved being your own.
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