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How to Steam Shape Leather Saddlebags

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Leather is a very pliable material that you can reshape and stretch, especially when it is damp. Water is the key to shaping leather; however, it is harmful to the leather if you use too much water because it can cause staining and discoloration. For this reason, it is best to use steam to shape leather because the leather will become moist as opposed to drenched in water. To steam shape leather saddlebags or any other leather product, use a fabric steamer and balled-up paper or other filling to help it hold its shape.

Things You'll Need:

  • Scrap Paper
  • Fabric Steamer
  • Large, Plastic Resealable Bag

Place the saddlebag on a towel or surface that you don’t mind getting damp. Open the bag, and check the inside for any valuable contents that the steam could damage.

Crumble the scrap paper into loose balls. Place them inside the plastic resealable bag, and seal the bag once you fill it. The resealable bags will prevent the paper from getting wet inside the saddlebag and, therefore, help it hold its shape better.

Make one or two of these bags, depending on the size of your saddlebag. Place the plastic resealable bags filled with crumbled paper inside the saddlebag, shaping the saddlebag. Add more filling if necessary until you get the shape you like.

Hold the steamer a few inches away from the leather saddlebag, moving it slowly over the surface of the leather. Do this over all sides of the bag until it is slightly damp. You will know the bag is damp when the leather has darkened in color.

Turn the steamer off, and allow the bag to dry with the plastic bags and crumbled paper inside. When the bag is completely dry, it will be the shape that you molded it with the bags.


If the leather saddlebag is not the shape you like, use steam to shape the leather again, focusing on the specific parts that did not turn out as you desired.

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