Happy Monday, friends, I hope your week is starting off on a high note! We’re doing something fun around here today, playing around with leather accessories that beginners can make, and there’s even a giveaway at the bottom of the post, so be sure to check that out before you leave. I had the pleasure of meeting Leather Hide Store and they’ve sponsored today’s post, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to show you a basic wallet-style pouch that people of every skill level can make.
People who love leather crafts fall into two categories, the first being “I already know how great it is to work with leather” and the second being “I’ve never tried it, but I’d love to if you de-mystify the process”. Am I right? Well, whichever camp you’re part of, you will want to check out Leather Hide Store, who has a really great selection of upholstery leather remnants you can buy. These aren’t just scraps, either – each remnant is a piece between 12 and 30 square feet, so you have plenty of leather to complete home upholstery projects, make up a great handbag, divide it up for group crafts, or do what I do, and envision sooooo many beautiful leather bracelets and accessories. ;) The colors available change all the time, so if you don’t see what you want right away, then be sure to visit again (and the dyes that I used for today’s project may no longer be available because I snagged them for myself).
But for today’s project, I can see this being a great small group craft, and depending on the age of your crafters, you can prep the leather piece for them so that all they have to do is stitch and embellish it, or you can have everyone take the reins and learn the joy of leather crafting. I used my Sizzix Big Shot to cut all my pieces today (because I love mine, and half the reason I love working with leather is because I can die cut it with my machine) but if you don’t have one, you can easily cut your pieces with sharp scissors (think fabric scissors, not the ones you use for paper. Crafters, you know there’s a difference, haha). If you are cutting your leather with scissors, then you can make your wallet panel any size you like, but for comparison’s sake, mine is approximately a 6 x 12 inch rectangle.
Here’s what I used to make today’s wallets. Leather tools can be a little pricey for their initial investment, but the more projects you make, the more they’re worth, and for group crafts, don’t forget that everyone can share one or two sets of tools.
- Upholstery Leather from The Leather Hide Store in Sea Glass, distressed Sarsaparilla, and Orange
- Sizzix Big Shot & extended cutting pads
- Sizzix Bigz Index Card Holder die
- Flowers from Sizzix Bigz Flower Basket Card in a Box die
- 1/16 inch hole punch (I used the Crop-a-Dile Power Punch, but any leather punch would work great)
- 5/32 inch leather hole punch
- Waxed linen cord and blunt end needle
- 5mm Buttonhole punch
- Screw-on button stud (small)
- 6mm crystal snap rivets
- Rivet setting tool and rubber bench block
- Hammer and steel bench block
- Leather-appropriate glue (I like Gutermann glue for leather)
- Marker or pen to mark holes
As I mentioned, I used my Sizzix machine. If you have one and wish to do the same, cutting leather is the same as cutting paper with the Bigz dies – just layer the leather on top of the die and sandwich it between the extended cutting pads. Roll that baby through and you have instant clean lines (which is super helpful if you’re prepping this craft for a group). I also die-cut flowers with lacy details, and those worked beautifully as well. The key is to stick to the Bigz dies if you’re a Sizzix person, and to die cut them with the raw side of the leather facing the die, so that if there are any scoring lines, they’re impressed into the backside of your leather and won’t even show. Otherwise, you can trace out the shape you wish to cut on the leather, and cut with scissors.
Next, I folded the panel up so that it was 5 inches – nearly thirds. You can adjust this measurement as you like – after all, it’s your project! You can see I used the sea glass and distressed sarsaparilla colors, and I think the distressed leather was nicer to work with for this project, because it’s a bit softer. (But that gorgeous blue has advantages of its own – swoon!)
Mark with a pen or fine tip marker where you will punch your holes – approximately 1/4 apart, and 1/8 inch from the edge. Using a 1/16 inch leather punch, punch holes through both layers of the pouch so that stitching is easy. You can use a specialty leather punch, but don’t forget to check what you already have for supplies – I picked up the Crop-a-Dile Power Punch a while back specifically because it can punch a hole in practically any crafting surface (even metal) – and it worked so beautifully to punch precise holes through both layers of leather.
Next, you’ll need to add a closure for your wallet, and I used screw-on button studs. To place them, first, determine where on the flap you want it to be visible – typically right at the edge of the flap. Using the buttonhole punch, create a hole. To punch holes in leather with hollow punches like this, place them on a steel bench block, position your punch, and tap the punch with the hammer until it removes a small hole from the leather.
Then, fold up the pouch and determine where the base should be placed because they must line up. Using your marker, mark in the bottom portion of the pouch where to place that hole (you can actually place your mark right through the button hole). Then, punch a 3/32 inch hole to accommodate the button stud. The screw-on base pokes up from the bottom, and you screw the stud facing up. At this point, your leather is all prepped! There’s just stitching and embellishment, so if you’re prepping leather for a big group, you’d move on to the next step, and you’d begin the group instructions starting from this point.
Cut 2 lengths of waxed linen about 18 inches long. Thread a large hole needle, and beginning from the inside of the pouch (so that the tail end of your stitching lies inside), pass your needle through toward the front or back of the wallet (it doesn’t make a difference). Use a whipstitch, going from the lower hole to the next hole up, until you get to the top. Once at the top, stitch back downward, making and “X” pattern with your stitches and reinforcing them. When you get back to the bottom, don’t go through both holes – just pass the need through to the inside of the pouch.
Turn the pouch inside out enough to reach the corner, and tie a secure square knot (a double knot). Trim the excess, and repeat on the other side.
At this point, you could be done. These wallets are now totally functional. If you’ve got a group of boys, or you’re making this as a manly craft, you may not want to add hearts and flowers. :) You can embellish the flap edge if you like with stitching – or really, whatever you can imagine! I opted to continue on and make these more girly, adding layered flowers.
After die-cutting a few sizes of flowers, I punched 5/32 inch holes in the center with my round hollow leather punch, and determined how I wished to layer them and where to place them. When you decide where on the flap you’d like to add them, punch 5/32 inch holes there as well. A tip: the crystal rivets I’m using for this project can accommodate 3 layers maximum of leather, and don’t forget that your flap is one of them.
For extra security, I added a bit of Gutermann glue to the flowers before riveting them. It puts less stress on the rivet, but the glue alone won’t hold up to daily use. The combination of glue and rivets seems to work well for jewelry and accessories. To set crystal snap rivets, snap thr fornt and back together through your layers, and place it crystal-side down on a rubber bench block. (Don’t use steel – the crystal is likely to crack.) Position the rivet setter over the back of the snap rivet and tap it a few times with your hammer until it compresses for a permanent hold.
The 5×6 size is great as a business card holder, especially now that so many of us creative types are getting shapes like squares and circles that don’t fit in traditional card holders. You can also easily pop your ID and some cash in here.
That may look like a lot of steps, but once you’re familiar with the tools and process, it’s actually really simple, and I made up both of these leather wallets in an hour! Which brings me to today’s giveaway – I will send TWO readers these leather wallets (one per winner). Rafflecopter will walk you through the ways to get your entries in below – just leave a comment on this post and let me know what YOU would make with leather, or what kind of one-hour leather tutorial you would like to see me share next!
The giveaway will run until May 3, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST and two winners will be chosen to get a color at random. I’ll be shipping these out personally. Good luck!