I came up with this really neat way to update a beat up old bag and decided to share! It's really easy and took me only two hours to do. What you will need is:
Old leather bag (using one that has a colored finish only on the outside of the leather works best, so that you can sand to reveal the tan leather beneath)
Sandpaper in a variety of grits
Ruler and pen
Sharpie or other permanent marker
I found a 1960s leather doctor's bag that was very beat up with many scuffs, scratches and even a few deep gouges to the finish. So, it was an ideal candidate for intentional distressing!
To give it a distressed look, I spent half an hour hand sanding the black finish off the bag. I discovered that using the different grits of sandpaper gave different effects. I made sure to sand one side more than the others so that I had a nice and clear area to apply the tribal pattern to later.
On that area that I super sanded, I drew my design. I made it up as I went along using a ruler and a pen.
I then began to fill in my design with a Sharpie. The sanded leather absorbed the Sharpie perfectly! Once you have completely filled in your design, your bag is done! I felt no need at the time to seal the bag with anything, but time and use will tell. So, if you decided to make one with a grand piece of artwork drawn on the side, you might want to consider sealing with something, at least for the sake of waterproofing your work.
Enjoy and have a great weekend!