Introduction: Large Leather Pencil Case for Art Supplies & More
Third Prize in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016
This is a project to help guide you through making a unique, long-lasting leather case. You can use it for pencils, for makeup brushes, or whatever you choose to use it for. It's a pretty simple project with just a few steps. Let's get started!
Step 1: Materials Needed for Leather Artist Case for Pencils
Leather for the Case
- I used a finished double shoulder leather I bought at Tandy Leather Store
- You can use any leather you have, but if it's much thicker than this, it will be difficult to work with. I believe this is about 1/16th of an inch thick, or 4 oz. leather.
- For a case this large, I used a piece that was approximately 29 inches wide by 10 inches tall (precise measurements and graphic are in the next step)
Basic Leatherwork Tools
- Ruler & Other Tools Needed
- scissors, utility razors & ruler
- leather glue (rubber cement is fine)
- hole punch tool
- spray bottle to wet leather
- elastic - if you want to use it to secure the pencils in even more
- Materials for Sewing
- needles for sewing the leather
- waxed thread or sinew thread
- pliers - sometimes are needed when pulling needle through holes
- sewing hole punch tool
- creasing tool - used to make an even line in preparation for stitching (optional)
- overstitch wheel - makes indentations where the holes will be put for stitching (optional)
- stitching groover - this gouges a channel along the edge to prepare it for the holes & sewing (optional)
- * These tools can be purchased online or in a Tandy store (or other leatherwork-related store). If looking for a decently large starter kit with most of the tools I used (other than the leather) I found this one on Amazon: Leathercraft Accessories Kit for Sewing.
Stencil (optional) - I don't know if you can see it very clearly in the photos, but I used a feather stencil on the front and back of the case. Honestly, this is not proper tooling leather, but I tested it out and it did work. The leather tooling isn't as pronounced as it would be if I had used tooling leather, but I like it. I love a stencil I bought at the Tandy store - with feathers on it. If interested, it's called the craftaid feathers template. If you use it, you would also need to use a couple of other tools along with it. These are all optional. After laying out the stencil and transferring the design, I used a swivel knife to cut it out. I then used my mallet and a B701 craftool beveler stamp around the design to make it pop. It gives a list of tools to use on the stencil itself. Any type of similar beveling stamp would work.If you plan on tooling leather, all of these tools I just listed are a necessity! If no tooling is done, then these would not be needed.
Understanding the Basic Tools & Uses
There is a very useful instructable here on preparing leather for sewing and I think you will find it very helpful, if you're new to creating stuff with leather and sewing it. It covers in more detail, how to use the tools I mention in this Instructable. I've also created several other items with leather and have Instructables on them you can check out. I think I covered the details on how to use the tools a bit more in depth in those Instructables.
If you have any questions, please ask and I will try to help!
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Step 2: Cutting Out the Leather
In this first step, you will need to cut out the leather pieces. If you want to make it smaller, that is fine. I am providing the measurements I used here. The main piece was about: 28 3/4" wide by 9 7/8" tall. I also cut out a piece with the same width, that is only 3 inches tall, and this will be the piece that holds the pencils in.
In order to be able to cut the leather, I had to wet it very well with a spray bottle, on both sides. I then used a clear ruler I have (usually use it for cutting fabric) and a utility razor to cut the leather. This leather is thin enough that I could cut it with scissors, but I try to avoid doing that on these long cuts as a razor creates a clean edge.
Step 3: Prepping the Leather for Sewing the Case
Once the pieces are cut out, it's time to prepare the leather for sewing. I sprayed the pieces with water to really get them damp. Then, I took out the creasing tool (see image) and went along the outside edges to create a crease. I tend to do this around the entire piece, even if I do not plan on stitching there, as it looks nice and creates a more finished look in the end. Then i went along the areas that I would be stitching, and used the stiching groover (it gouges out a line for sewing and thins it out a bit). Finally, I used the overstitch wheel to create marks for the holes. This makes it look like you already have stitches there. It is helpful to create a stiching guide. See images for details please!
Here are the measurements for the inside stitches. There are four sections where this will be folded. See graphic for dimensions. Basically, the first section is the top piece (very left one) - the one that is cut on a diagnal. The other sections are all about 7 1/2 inches wide. So, starting at the right, I marked with a white colored pencil 7 1/2 inches in, then the next 7 1/2 inches in, and so on. I also did this on the smaller piece of leather. I also used the creasing tool, groover and overstitch wheel on the inside seams (on top of the smaller leather piece). See images to get a better understanding. I ended up cutting the left piece (the diagonal cut) in a later step. I waited until most of the stitching was done, in order to make sure the leather was lined up properly.
Step 4: Sewing the Leather - and Stenciling
If you are going to use a stencil to create a unique design on the leather, now is the time. It's best to do it before you have the pieces sewn together. I made the mistake of doing it afterwards. It still worked fine, but it would be best to do it before sewing.
To use the stencil, I placed it onto the dampened leather. I then used a smoothing tool (you could also use the back of a spoon) to smooth or push over the specific stencil I wanted transferred to the leather. Once done, I took out the swivel knife and cut along the lines. Re-wet the leather if it dries out. Then take out a basic beveling tool and your mallet and start by going around the outside edge lines with the tool. Tap it with the mallet and move it along the line a little, tap it again, move it along and continue on until you're done. Then, do the same with the inside lines. If you hit it harder, you can create deeper contrast and darker marks. Lastly, I used a tool that I had on hand for hair and used it along the center areas and out to create and interesting line texture. I also used the mallet and some letter stamps to create my intials on the piece.
After that step, it's now time to punch holes into the leather. First, I use some leather glue (or rubber cement) and place a small amount between the two pieces of leather, only along where the seams will be sewn. I try to place the small piece on the larger one evenly. Place a book or something heavy on top of the glued pieces to help them adhere better, and quickly. Sometime in this step, I also cut a piece off the left side of the leather to create the angled top piece. I just used a ruler, placed it on an angle and cut the leather after wetting it.
After gluing the pieces together and secure, I take out the 4 prong diamond hole cutting tool and the mallet. I go along the stitch lines created in the last step, to use the mallet to make the holes. If you want to make sure the spacing is even, then after creating your set of holes, place one prong from the end of the tool into the last hole you just made, when making the next set of holes. This way the spacing is very precise and even.
Creating the holes doesn't take too long. Then, I tend to sew using a saddle stitch and two needles. I've attached a video explanation that shows how to prep leather for sewing, and how to sew with two needles with a saddle stitch. In the video, the man is creating the holes one-by-one with an awl. I used to sew that way, but it takes a lot longer for me and tends to be more dangerous! I like the 4prong diamond punch a lot now. Whichever way you want to sew it is fine though.
When I punched the holes through the leather, I punched them through both layers of leather at once. If your leather is much thicker, this might not be feasible. Once the holes are punched, I then completed all the sewing. It looks like the sewing may take a very long time to complete as well, but I did it in the evening while my son was watching a movie. My hand was a bit sore, but I finished it!
Step 5: Finishing It Up
In this step, I cut out three pieces of leather the length of the sections and and less than one inch tall. You can see in the photos how I did this. I wish I thought of a better way to approach this beforehand. Maybe next time I can do something a bit easier, to avoid all these extra little stitches in the piece. As you can see, I cut out the piece and prepped it for sewing the edges of it. I also cut out six little rectangles that would go over the piece of elastic and attach to the leather strip below it. The elastic piece I cut, I made sure was about 1/2 to 1 inch shorter than the leather - to make sure it would be tight enough to not allow the pencils to fall out. I placed a little glue on top and bottom of the elastic on one side and sandwiched it in between the rectangle leather piece and the leather strip. I placed something heavy on top of it, then once secured, puched some holes and attached it to the piece. The photos show it pretty clearly, but if you have any questions, please ask.
Lastly, I used a single hole punch to make a hole for the strap to wrap around the leather case. I then carefully cut out a long and thin strip of leather, the same way I cut out the other pieces of leather. I folded it under, glued it and punched a couple holes in it before sewing it together, as you see in the photos.
Lastly, I didn't need to do this, as the leather was beautiful to begin with, but I did do one very light layer of satin sheen on the leather. Like I said, it was not necessary but I felt like trying it out. It created a subtle sheen. I used a damp sponge to apply it and smooth it out. I've used it before and applied much more in the past and it can create quite the shine. But, this time, I used much less and used more water on the sponge - to have a very subtle effect. It was fine. It would have been fine without me doing that as well. After that step, I was done!
If you have any questions, please ask. I will update this shortly with more links to what I used, as well as links to my other leatherwork instructables. Thanks for reading!
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