The first saddle bags I ever made were based on an old pair of US Cavalry saddle bags.  The were commissioned by a German  who was over in my hometown on a wagon train.  I know it sounds a little far fetched but when you live in a small town in Eastern Montana any way you can get people to come spend money is a viable option.  Back on topic, I worked in the local saddle shop my last year of high school then stayed on as the custom bootmaker for a couple of years.  My grandmother had taught me to sew at an early age but this is where I really learned the craft.  We built and repaired everything, tents, saddles, boots, and swather canvas to name a few.  It took patience and ingenuity but it ihad it’s benefits.  Now when I don’t like a piece of gear I can modify it or just design something I think will work better.