I have grown interested in watches lately and I am always interested in making myself luxury goods I cannot afford, especially leather goods.
Having access to a laser cutting machine at work I decided to create some plans for several lasercut watch bands, one of which is the one I am presenting today.
This one is made of fish leather (tilapia), with pig skin inside the bracelet to make the padding, and with a sued goat skin lining for more comfort and better finish.
I will take you through the steps required to build this amazing watch band, the laser cutter really removes any complexity to the task, you basically just have to assemble the parts !
After you manage to laser cut the leather pieces (which is fast if you are used to it), you can finish this project in about an hour or so.
Let's do this !!
Step 1: Material Required
To complete this project you will need :
- 1 piece of nice looking leather, I recommend 0.6 to 1mm thickness (the thicker it is, the thicker the watch strap will be, which may or may not suit your needs).
I used tilapia skin for this project. You can use any leather that suits your need, just be careful about thickness. This pattern is designed for thin leather, I have other patterns for thick leather I will be uploading shortly. Use a piece about 50* 250mm minimum.
- Some leather for the padding : I used pig skin I had laying around, I recomment using 0.6 - 1mm thickness as well (again, the thicker it is, the thicker the padding and the overall size of the strap will be). Feel free to use any leather provided it has the right thickness (sheep, goat, whatever). Use a piece around 350*50 mm. This can be cheap leather.
- A small piece of thin leather for the lining, I recommend 0.2-0.5mm thickness. The minimum size is about 20 * 200mm but you will have a hard time cutting it properly, just use a piece about 30 * 250mm and you will be fine !
- Access to a laser cutting machine and knowing how to use it (don't do anything stupid, you can hurt yourself with these machines !). A tip for it to be cut properly : you can use painter's tape to lay the leather flat on some piece of wood, the cut will be more precise this way.
- The SVG files I uploaded
- Neoprene glue (contact cement)
- Thick thread (like 0.5mm thick), it can be cotton, linen, or even synthetic, your choice, and round-tip needles that match your thread
After cutting your sould have the main body of the strap (black fish leather on the picture), the padding (green pig leather),and the lining (not shown on the picture).
- 20mm fish skin watch strap - Lining.svg
- 20mm fish skin watch strap - Padding.svg
- 20mm fish skin watch strap - Strap.svg
Step 2: Glueing the Padding
Leather has two sides :
- grain side, it's the nice looking side, that you will want to see on your finished product
- flesh side, it is usually not looking so good and it will be hidden when the project is through.
You will need to glue the padding to the flesh side of the main body leather, using contact cement.
Be careful to center it correctly. you can notice that on 3 lines , the padding is larger. Those are the lines on whith you will have to fold the leather over itself to create the future strap.
It is also meant to make the bracelet stronger and more durable because each of those line will hold either the spring bars or the pin buckle.
If you wish, you can add some extra padding to the bracelet to make it a bit thicker. Your call.
By the end of this step you should have glued the padding to the flesh side of the main body.
Step 3: Securing the First Keeper
Noticed the 2 small pieces of fish leather I have not talked about yet ?
They are the future keepers.
Optionally you can line them to make them a bit thicker. You will need to hand-sew it together to make a ring shaped keeper (check the pictures). This will be your first keeper, the one next to the pin buckle.
Once it is done, place it on the bracelet as shown on the pictures.
The pin buckle holding part of the bracelet has two folding lines (one for the spring bar, one for the pin buckle), the other pointy part has only one folding line (it folds over itself). You can already fold it to see what it will look like when it's done (and make sure you put the keeper in the right place !)
Step 4: Glueing It Together !
It will finally start to look like a watch band !
Fold each part of the watch band over itself :
- For the pin buckle part, you have to fold it twice, along the two lines where the padding leather is larger.
- For the other part, you have to fold it once (over itself), again along the line where the padding leather is larger.
BE CAREFUL to exactly match the holes on each side of the bracelet when folding it : otherwise, it will not look good and you will have trouble sewing !
Step 5: Adding the Lining
Now that the bracelet is glued, we will add the lining.
Be careful to glue it on what will be the inside of the watch band, which is the part that will be in contact with your wrist.
On the pointy half of the bracelet, no worries, it is absolutely symmetrical so choose whatever side you like.
On the other half of the bracelet, the one which will hold the pin buckle, you will notice that one side of it is seamless while the other has a seam, which is logical because it is double folded. You will want to glue the lining on this side of the bracelet to hide that seam of course !
Again, be SUPER CAREFUL to exactly match all the holes between the lining and the bracelet when glueing it !
Step 6: Almost Done : Stitch It Together !
Now you can stitch it together using the saddle stitch (look it up!), using the thread of your choice.
You will notice that the padding will take its final, good looking shape during this last step ! Finally it looks like a real watch band !
Step 7: Finished !
Create the second keeper it you want one (I always make two keepers).
Paint the edges using the method of your choice (Edge Kote for instance).
Fit the keeper on the bracelet aaaaand.... you're done !
You are now the proud owner of your own homemade, bespoke watch band.
You can now repeat the process with any leather you like, to own exotic leather watch bands for a fraction of the price !
Congratulations on finishing this project.
I will appreciate any feedback on this Instructable, which is my first, and I would absolutely LOVE IT if people would make watch straps of their own using my tutorial, and I would love to see the results !
Happy crafting to all !