Waltzing Matilda Market Tote – $375

Waltzing Matilda got its start making sandals, which we reviewed this summer. Now, Waltzing Matilda is a full-fledged leather outfitter based in Wayne, Pennsylvania – making everything from shoes to bags to laptop cases to wine carriers.

“Everything we make is handcrafted in the USA in small micro-factories and meant to last forever. We make a strong effort to use repurposed and recycled materials found during our travels. We don’t compromise. We are creative, adventurous, and humble, and sincerely want to stimulate the senses with our pieces. Every hide is handpicked and has unique features and marks that add to the character and beauty of each product. We hope you love your new piece of art, and that it travels with you for a long time. Please let it age gracefully.” – Waltzing Matilda website

Today we will be taking a look at the Waltzing Matilda Market Tote, a simple multi-purpose tote with WM’s classic boho look.

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CONSTRUCTION & AESTHETIC

The Market Tote is simply constructed with beautiful 5mm Horween leather, which you notice instantly. The leather is smooth, waxy, and smells wonderful. Its rectangular construction allows it to stand up on its own while still being floppy enough to carry extremely comfortably. The leather looks amazing from afar, and feels even better once you touch it. It’s so soft. I’ve occasionally handed it off to a friend to admire and they immediately gush about how nice it feels.

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In classic minimalist Waltzing Matilda style, the straps are hand stitched directly to the body of the tote. A small hanging pocket is attached to one side with copper rivets at the top.

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My tote is a beautiful rich black, with a lovely Horween sheen. The Market Tote also comes in Brown, Medium Brown, Grey (with black straps), and Navy (with brown straps).

FUNCTION

The Market Tote is 13.5”H X 14.5”W X 4.5”D, making it large enough to carry pretty much anything. You can use it as an everyday carry bag or for a quick trip to the farmer’s market. The inside is unlined and undyed, but any wear adds to the charm.

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The small inside pocket is slim but plenty deep, and great for stashing keys and a phone so you don’t have to fish around the bottom.

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The leather for the straps is struck through, which is a nice touch. The straps are long enough for comfortable over the shoulder carry. They’re not particularly thick, but have plenty of strength as long as you’re not carrying around an anvil.

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CONCLUSION

I absolutely love my Waltzing Matilda Market Tote. It’s simple, but the beautiful Horween leather stands out and gets compliments everywhere I go. If you’re looking for a bargain, the Waltzing Matilda store is probably not the best choice for you. However, the Market Tote is handmade in the United States with top-notch materials that get noticed. It’s a tote that you’ll be proud to carry wherever you go.

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Waltzing Matilda NICA Sandals – $148

Summer is officially here, so it’s time to make sure you’ve got all your supplies together for a relaxing day at the beach. If you’re like me, you’ll pack a nice picnic, obsessively slather on 70+ SPF sunscreen, and grab your favorite shorts and sandals. The sandals part, however, is a little complicated. I’ve been checking out a few sandal options, so stay tuned for a couple of upcoming sandal reviews.

Today I’ll be looking at the Waltzing Matilda NICA Sandals, in Men’s Brown and Women’s Moc.

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About Waltzing Matilda

“Everything we make is handcrafted in the USA in small micro-factories and meant to last forever. We make a strong effort to use repurposed and recycled materials found during our travels. We don’t compromise. We are creative, adventurous, and humble, and sincerely want to stimulate the senses with our pieces. Every hide is handpicked and has unique features and marks that add to the character and beauty of each product. We hope you love your new piece of art, and that it travels with you for a long time. Please let it age gracefully.” – Waltzing Matilda website

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Waltzing Matilda actually got its start making this very sandal, born out of necessity during a surf trip in Nicaragua. After Mike, the founder, lost his shoes in a torrential rain storm, he crafted a pair of sandals out of an extra travel bag, and thus, the NICA sandal was born. Now, Waltzing Matilda is a full-fledged leather outfitter, making everything from shoes to bags to laptop cases to wine carriers.

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CONSTRUCTION

Like all Waltzing Matilda products, the NICA sandal is made by hand in Maine. Featuring Horween leather, the body of the sandal is hand-tacked to a rubber Birkenstock EVA sole. The straps are anchored into the leather at the top and bottom with tacks and the two sections of strap are joined with polyester thread. I’m not entirely sure that this is the best decision when it comes to construction, but it does give the NICA sandal that stitched-together bohemian look that Waltzing Matilda has become famous for. After several months of use, however, I haven’t noticed any give or weakness in that area of the sandal, so take that with a grain of salt.

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AESTHETIC

I love the way these sandals look. With the hand-tacked nails and unburnished edges, the NICA sandals have a unique look that sets them apart from other leather sandals. They aren’t pretentious or overdone, but definitely look like they are a quality item.

I wasn’t completely sold on the white Birkenstock sole on the Women’s Mocs, but after quite a bit of use, they don’t look as dirty as I expected, and they match well with the lighter leather. The Men’s Brown sandals are a beautiful, rich brown that goes well with any outfit.

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FUNCTION

These take some breaking in before they get comfortable. When you first try them on, it feels a bit like wearing a two-by-four on your feet. The piece that goes between your toes is thicker than most sandals and takes some getting used to. But after a couple of wears, the leather breaks in and forms to your feet, making them extremely comfortable for daily wear. These are by far the most comfortable leather flip flops I’ve owned. My husband regularly steals them even though they’re not his size. I think I’ll have to get him his own pair!

The Men’s Brown pair has a leather sole, which can be somewhat slippery if you’re not used to leather soles. It’s probably a good idea to avoid a wipeout by scuffing the soles up a bit before you head outside.

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CONCLUSION

At $148, the NICA sandals aren’t cheap, but you will get a LOT of use out of them. They’re perfect for a day at the beach, and look nice enough to wear for a casual dinner. They’re light and pack flat so you can take them anywhere. Waltzing Matilda also has several other sandal designs that I’d recommend taking a look at if simple flip flops don’t cut it. There are Roman sandals, Greek Sandals, and a third design they call “My Sandals.” Check ’em out!

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Waltzing Matilda to Open Brick & Mortar Store

Waltzing Matilda USA is a brand that specializes in leather sandals, bags, and accessories. Here at BestLeather, we’ve taken a liking to WM’s rugged, bohemian style. Last year, we reviewed their Tom’s Bag, a unique messenger bag, their BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier – an attractive bag designed to carry two wine bottles, and their Avery MacBook Sleeve, a simple laptop sleeve with a beautiful strap closure. And we’ll be publishing a review of their Nica Sandals very soon.

As a quick refresher, Waltzing Matilda is located in Wayne, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. Mike Balitsaris and his team expertly source all of their materials here in the USA and craft each piece by hand. Mike’s passion for his craft shines through in every piece.

Waltzing Matilda recently announced the opening of their very first brick and mortar store in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Their grand opening is this weekend – May 15th and 16th. If you’re in the area, stop by and you’ll get a free personalized gift if you purchase something. We’re excited to see where Waltzing Matilda goes next!

Waltzing Matilda Store Opening

Waltzing Matilda Avery Sleeve for MacBook Pro Review – $160

Sometimes you don’t need a messenger bag, briefcase, or backpack. Yes, that’s probably an odd sounding statement to read from a guy who spends a great deal of time reviewing and testing bags and backpacks. But, seriously…think about it. There are those occasions that crop up when all you really need is your laptop. But, carrying your laptop “in the raw” or “naked”, without some type of protection is just not a wise decision. This is the great thing about laptop sleeves. And, if you’re an Apple fan who also happens to appreciate handmade leather products, you’re in luck thanks to Waltzing Matilda’s Avery Sleeve for MacBook Pro.

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About Waltzing Matilda

This is the third piece from Waltzing Matilda that we’ve reviewed here at BestLeather. Their first piece was the amazing Tom’s Bag (which has turned into my daily carry bag. It works splendidly and continues to garner attention and questions from those around me). And, we recently reviewed the BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier – a unique, attractive bag designed to carry two wine bottles (or other beverages packaged in bottles of a similar size and design).

As a quick refresher, Waltzing Matilda is located in Wayne, PA (suburb of Philadelphia). Mike Balitsaris and his team expertly source all of their materials here in the USA and craft each piece by hand. Mike’s passion for his craft shines through in every piece. In my opinion, his pieces hearken back to greater days gone by of industry and pride of workmanship here in the US. It’s refreshing to see that those attributes are still alive and well–represented by Waltzing Matilda and a growing number of makers/crafters here in the US.

The Avery Sleeve for MacBook Pro is no exception. It’s a simple piece, with a simple mission, but it does it oh so well. The Avery Sleeve I received is sized for a 15” MacBook Pro. This is a fortunate thing for my middle son, who uses a 15” MBP at the college he attends in Montana. It’s unfortunate for me, because I use a 13” MacBook Air and do not get the opportunity to use the sleeve. But, I appreciate the fact that my middle son has an appreciation for products designed for longevity and a style that isn’t defined by gaudy logos, nylon, and other low quality materials.

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Construction

The Avery Sleeve is constructed of a thick, yet supple leather sourced from a tannery in Maine. The sleeve is made from 3 pieces of leather: the main body piece that wraps around to form the sleeve, the closure strap that wraps around it to secure it, and the slip through closure. In keeping with Waltzing Matilda’s other’s pieces, it sports their signature exposed waxed thread stitching.

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Function

As mentioned earlier, sometimes all you need is to slip your computer into a sleeve and run off to a meeting. Or, you might want to insulate your expensive laptop from other items rolling around in your bag or backpack and prevent them from dinging or damaging it. The Avery Sleeve performs both of these roles ideally. The sleeve is streamlined and doesn’t really increase the overall bulk of your computer.

It is worth noting that upon arrival the sleeve is a little tight. Slipping your MacBook into and out of it will take a little effort. However, after performing this routine a few times you’ll notice that the sleeve has stretched a little and your laptop will go in and out of the sleeve with ease, but still maintain its form.

The closure strap is easy to use and works without issue. It’s not complicated, it’s simple, keeps the overall bulk reduced, and stylish.

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Aesthetic

I received the brown version of the Avery sleeve. It also comes in black and I’m sure it is equally as stunning with the contrasting thread on it. As with other Waltzing Matilda pieces, it sports a unique style. It’s rugged, yet it’s somewhat refined too. Refined, simplistic ruggedness? That description works for me.

The Avery Sleeve is purpose built. It has a single job to perform. But in doing it, it still exudes quality and a certain style that I appreciate. Personally, I would be comfortable carrying this into one of my local coffeehouses or into any boardroom.

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Conclusion

If you own a MacBook Pro, chances are you made a significant financial investment when purchasing it. And, as is the custom with most MBP owners, you plan to keep it around for a while (especially since it will work well for many years to come). Protecting your investment for the long term is a solid decision. Protecting it with a Waltzing Matilda Avery Sleeve for MacBook Pro is a great choice if you’re looking for protection, durability, and style. Plus you’ll be using a 100% Made Here in the USA product. At $160, it’s a fantastic choice. It is also available for 13″ versions of the MacBook Pro. And, if you’re a diehard Apple Store fanatic, you can purchase the Avery Sleeve directly through the Apple Store.

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Waltzing Matilda BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier Review – $180

Wine consumption in the United States has now topped France. In May of 2014, Wine Spectator announced this news:

“It’s official: The United States drinks more wine than any other nation on earth. Americans consumed 329 million cases in 2013—a 1 percent increase over 2012, and 18 percent, or 51 million cases, over 2005—making the U.S. now the world’s top wine market by volume, according to data from Impact Databank.”

So, it should come as no surprise that the marketplace is flooded with accessories of every kind for wine connoisseurs. But, if you’re looking for a unique, standout method of transporting wine to your next night out, look no further than Waltzing Matilda and their BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier.

“A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rose instead, it all depends upon your appetite.” Billy Joel had it right – why settle for just one bottle? Take two with you next time…

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About Waltzing Matilda

“Everything we make is handcrafted in the USA in small micro-factories and meant to last forever. We make a strong effort to use repurposed and recycled materials found during our travels. We don’t compromise. We are creative, adventurous, and humble, and sincerely want to stimulate the senses with our pieces. Every hide is handpicked and has unique features and marks that add to the character and beauty of each product. We hope you love your new piece of art, and that it travels with you for a long time. Please let it age gracefully.” – Waltzing Matilda website

This is the second piece we’ve reviewed for Waltzing Matilda. When you have a chance, be sure to check out their amazing Tom’s Bag too.

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Construction

As with all of Waltzing Matilda’s products, the BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier is 100% handmade. Even the hardware for the adjustable shoulder strap is hand forged by a local Philadelphia area blacksmith. The stitching runs true to form too…highly visible, thick, with nice seams. The version of this carrier displayed on their website features stitching that anchors the strap to the main body of the bag sewn in the form of the WM logo…a nice, clever touch. However, the version I received does not have that same stitch pattern. Instead it is heavily anchored with double stitched rows on each side of the strap that form a nice, symmetrical look.

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The leather, described as a gaucho color, is the same leather that is used on their Avery MacBook Sleeves (look for that review soon). The BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier is created using the leftover pieces from the production of the Avery Sleeve. The folks at Waltzing Matilda don’t like to waste anything…and we certainly benefit from it. While the Dual Bottle Carrier may be made from “scraps”, it certainly doesn’t diminish the visual appeal of the bag.

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Function

The Waltzing Matilda BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier is a purpose-built piece. It’s designed for a specific, singular purpose – to transport two bottles…whether they be wine, sparkling cider, or even Torani syrup bottles for flavoring your latte, this bag will transport them.

Each bottle is swathed in soft, protective leather and will keep your bottles upright and prevent them from contacting each other. The bag is easy to carry thanks to the easy to adjust shoulder strap. At 13”H X 10”W X 4.5D the BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier will easily handle full size wine bottles. With the circumference of each “silo”, you should be able to even fit Magnum size bottles.

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Aesthetic

It’s a great looking bag for sure. I’d carry it to just about any function be it formal or not. I had a friend of mine who is much more of a wine aficionado than I give me her reaction to the Waltzing Matilda BYOB Dual Wine Bottle Carrier. Here’s what she said: “this bag invokes sort of a John Wayne/cowboy/driving my Porsche thru the Napa Valley/mountains kind of thing. It definitely deserves to be filled with a great red and a big, oaky, butterball kind of white.”

So, now I want a nicely appointed Porsche (with outstanding leather interior of course) and time for a road trip to Napa Valley.

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Conclusion

If you enjoy wine and enjoy taking it with you – either to give as a gift, to consume in a BYO restaurant, or to take on a romantic picnic the Waltzing Matilda BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier is perfect. $180 is not much to pay for a handmade, well made statement piece that utilizes 100% US-sourced materials. Best of all, it’s unique and no one else is going to show up at the party with the same bag, at least the first time…because once your friends see it and you tell them you got it from Waltzing Matilda, they’re going to order one too.

Waltzing Matilda Tom’s Bag – $450

Many hear the words “Waltzing Matilda” and immediately think of the song by Tom Waits (although the correct title for his song is Tom Traubert’s Blues). Others know it as Australia’s unofficial national anthem. Yet others know the title from the original poem written by Australian poet Banjo Paterson back in 1895 – he also penned other famous pieces such as The Man from Snowy River. Now the name Waltzing Matilda is becoming synonymous with quality, handcrafted, made-in-the-USA fine leather bags, and footwear.

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About Waltzing Matilda

Not only is Waltzing Matilda committed to being made in the U.S.A. – they take it a step further by only using leather and other materials that are 100% sourced from the U.S.A. And, to top it off, all of their products are handmade. “Like a fine whiskey, Waltzing Matilda leather goods improve with age. The passing of time, use and personal journeys add depth, character and substance to these modern heirlooms.” Probably the best way to understand Mike Balitsaris’ passion for his products, how they’re made, and what they’re made from is to watch this short video of him discussing Waltzing Matilda.

 

Waltzing Matilda from Jesse Brass on Vimeo.

Construction

The Waltzing Matilda Tom’s Bag is created with leather from S.B. Foot Tanning Company in Red Wing, Minnesota. And, as mentioned in the video, Waltzing Matilda uses heavy gauge thread from Maine Thread Company. The leather used on the bag is incredibly soft and floppy. One of the unique features of Waltzing Matilda’s products is their use of hides that may not “pass muster” with other companies. In the photos here, you can see stretch marks on the front flap and what is probably a barb wire scar on the on the back of the bag. Some say those marks detract from the beauty of the bag. I tend to disagree, especially when one considers that there is always discussion about how everyone wants “patina” on their leather products. In my opinion, you’re just getting a head start on the patina process. And, what’s the story behind those scars and marks? I’m curious…I like stories and, again in my opinion, those marks simply add to the back-story of a piece of leather that has been beautifully crafted into a bag that I hope to carry for years. Waltzing-Matilda-Toms-Bag-3 Back to the construction − in discussing Waltzing Matilda with Mike, he also enjoys incorporating old, or “up-cycled,” components into his products. In the case of the Tom’s Bag, the stud closures are from WWI Swiss Army ammunition pouches. He also uses hand forged rings from a local blacksmith for the strap adjustment. The use of these elements just further enhances the back-story that comes with the Tom’s Bag. Waltzing-Matilda-Toms-Bag-5

Function

The Waltzing Matilda Tom’s Bag is great for every day carry. The main compartment is roomy – large enough to carry a tablet or even a 13” laptop computer and other miscellaneous items. I’ve also used it as a quick, on the go photography bag with much success. It can carry two full size dSLR cameras with lenses and a few other items making it ideal for quick photo shoots. The inside flap pocket is large enough to handle a phone or iPod and the smaller slot is idea for business cards, or my favorite – customer loyalty cards that I don’t want to carry in my wallet.

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The outside pocket under the flap is an added bonus where you can slip your headphones in the pocket, some change, etc. And you’ve got one more business card sized slot available. The strap is long enough that the bag may be worn cross body without issue. It’s also easily adjusted so that it may be worn on the shoulder conventionally too. There is not a handle on the bag and initially, I missed having one to grab. However, with use, I found that the bag functioned just fine and I forgot about the lack of a handle. It’s also important to note that there isn’t a way to secure the main flap of the bag. If you tend to turn your bag upside down, this may be an issue. I, however, have not found this to be an issue. Another little item to note is the stud closure on the small outside pocket. While I like it a lot, the back of that closure is exposed inside the pocket. It’s a little sharp and may potentially scratch a small electronic item or snag something inserted into that pocket. I wish there was a small piece of leather sewn around the backside of it to eliminate any issues. This is not an issue with the stud closure on the inside pocket.

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There is only one thing that worries me about the bag and that is the stitching where the strap joins to the bag. It is an area that I’m going to keep an eye on over time. It’s probably going to be just fine – however, I wish that there were a couple of bar-tack stitches across the very last set of top stitches just to serve as reinforcements to prevent separation of the strap from the bag.

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Aesthetic

It looks great. The exposed stitching is pleasing to the eye. The soft floppy leather gets a lot of attention from people. They’re surprised at how soft it really is – and yes, they frequently ask to touch it. The stitching, the strap rings, and the stud closures are also items that get noticed and remarked upon frequently.

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Conclusion

The Waltzing Matilda Tom’s Bag is a great piece of handcrafted, leather art. At $450, it’s definitely an investment for the long run. But, you can be sure that the bag will endure for many years to come while allowing you to stylishly brandish it with your wares safely tucked inside. I look forward to carrying this bag and adding to the story it already had when it was delivered to me.