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In each bi-monthly episode of DiResta (every other Wednesday at 2pm PT), artist and master builder Jimmy DiResta (Dirty Money, Hammered, Against the Grain, Trash for Cash) lets us into his workshop, to look over his shoulder while he builds whatever strikes his fancy. On this episode of DiResta, Jimmy sews himself up a classic canvas and leather tool bag. – Gareth Branwyn

tool bag


  • Canvas material (approx. 1 yard, $6)
  • Leather material (about 4 square feet, $30)


  • Juki industrial sewing machine (used, about $400)
  • Vintage Wiss scissors (flea market find, about $20)
  • Metal ruler, tape measure
  • Sharpie marker
  • Spray adhesive (optional)

Jimmy’s Notes:

Fifteen years ago, in NY’s Lower East Side, I shared a studio space with Agatha Blois. When it comes to custom clothes, Agatha is at the top. She was my sewing teacher, introduced me to the “industrial sewing machine,” and guided me through my early sewing projects. Now I keep a Juki sewing machine in my shop. It’s great to have for creating your own phone case, fixing your motorcycle cover, customizing your pants (I plan on making a video of me modifying my pants soon), or in the case of today’s vid, sewing up a specialized tool bag. I encourage all of my students to learn how to sew. Once you learn some of the basics, you can have fun and experiment. I think learning how to sew is a must for all makers!

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

18 Responses to DiResta: Tool Bag

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  1. It’s nice that you can sew, but that was the least impressive of your videos that I’ve seen. In addition to injuring yourself more than on any other video that I’ve seen, you left almost every edge unfinished. I’m usually left feeling impressed by your videos but not this time.

    • AdVirMachina on said:

      Is not hurting himself a criteria for success? I feel it’s more likely a badge of activity.
      And, he’s not making a Sevile Row suit. It’s a toolbag!

  2. I find these videos offer a “quick and dirty” style of making. I tend toward a more high quality or finished style myself. I definitely find the projects interesting and can see myself undertaking similar builds, I just think my OCD nature would kick in and I would end up spending more time to create a more “clean” version of the item. Jimmy is definitely a “wing it” guy and his projects reflect this style, but that doesn’t make his projects any less interesting to me.

  3. No back-stitching? Don’t get me wrong, I love the quick and dirty style, but are you worried about the stitching coming undone?

    • If you’re asking me, I just like to measure and cut exact sizes. The stitching is fine by me, he triple stitches most of his seams. I think trkemp might be referring to the frayed edges left on the interior stitching. I couldn’t say for sure though, he wasn’t precise in his criticism.

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  6. Another fun build, and yes, sewing is a majorly under-estimated making skill. One note to less well-initiated seamsters — super77 or other contact adhesives are a bad idea to temporarily fix over-stitching (like on the rim of the bag and on the handles). Once you stitch through the adhesive sandwich, your needle is inevitably coated with little sticky rubber bits that never really dry, and eventually build up in the works of your machine, causing jammed thread, busted needles, or even seized gearing.

    Using pins is an adhesive-free, and (reusable) way to stick down your work. Or, if you must, “Stitch Wichery” (one brand name) is an iron-on adhesive tape that solidifies when it cools making it less likely to gum a needle).

    A better way (and still very fast) is to iron the fold-overs to lightly set the fold, then sew. With practice, you can get to where you just fold over by hand as you sew.

    I for one would love to see more sewing projects on make — but I guess I should put my making where my mouth is :)

  7. asciimation on said:

    Another nice film thanks! Sewing is something I also wish I knew more about. My experience is hand sewing some puppet clothes then borrowing a machine to sew up some darkroom blackout curtains and recently a hot water bottle cosy in the shape of a chopped off horse head (as in the Godfather). More projects like this one would be good. Sewing for making workshop type things.


  8. Tristan on said:

    Wild sewing is SO FULFILLING !
    Only the necessary measurements, most happens in the brain, with the use of practical 2D / 3D geometry. Backstitching only when needed. Just the right moves. It’s about getting things done.
    I’ve been doing all my pants, bags, jackets, accessories for 10 years like that (with compliments) using a 50-year old Elna Zigzag. One month ago, I made myself a ‘bank-assault-style’ weekender bag ; it traveled many times already. Yesterday I biked back from the grocery store with 20kg of stuff inside… tough craft !

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  10. KathrynGSwanson on said:

    This is a cool and fast project but I think he missed an opportunity to turn the Leather bottom of the bag in to pockets. By simply leaving the top edge seam open, the bag would be even more versatile. You could sew vertical channels to create pockets of different sizes for the tools you’d like them to accommodate.
    Also, the spray adhesive and hot glue is whack. I would be terrified of gumming up my machine. An iron and a few pins are all you need.

  11. Thank you all for watchg and commenting , I have been making things on a sewing machine for 15 years, in this time nothing ever fell apart and no glue ever caused a problem with my machines. Ever. I make the videos to entertain and inspire. Thank you

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  14. Do I really need an industrial sewing machine? can’t I just use a normal one? what’s the difference?

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