Luxurious, useful, and simply adorable, the elephant phone case can be made to fit your specific phone.
Make it personalized with some leather burning.
Recycle an old leather jacket like I did, or choose from your favorite array of colors and leathers. Their are tons of ways to personalize this simple idea.
Equipped with two side pockets and a hidden card slot behind the phone, this diy creation is sure to bring you some attention! :D
Enjoy and come along with me to learn how to make this yourself!
psst... if you enjoyed this instructable please consider voting me up in the contests I entered! thanks! ^^
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
You will need:
-Leather (one that is very thin, and two that are thicker (~5 oz) try to get matching colors)
- Paper (for prototyping)
- Leather string
- A phone (to make sure your case fits)
- Leather hole puncher
- Small craft hammer and/or regular hammer
Step 2: The Design Process
I took some note cards and started sketching out my idea!
Step 3: Making Plans
Start to make plans for what you want to make by first tracing your phone (do this twice) and all the key features you want to include (camera, home button etc.) Copy the lines of the edge of the screen onto your plans--you wouldn't want to obscure your screen with this case!
Then design what you want. To follow along with the elephant design, draw an elephant head flap directly onto the phone and then mirror it across the x axis to get the one on top, this way you know it will look good when the flap comes down onto the phone. Leave a cm of room between the original and the reflection to leave fold allowance. And also leave a cm of room around the bottom of the phone for seam allowance.
I will also have a scanned version of my plans if you what to work with them. (they are designed for a Samsung Galaxy phone)
The next main part you have to do is the actual leather pocket that will hold your phone. Measure how thick your phone is.
Then refer back to your original tracing of the phone. As shown in the picture, trace over the top edge of your screen and the bottom edge and add sides that are the same thickness you measured. Give seam allowance to the edge of those sides and the bottom of the holder that will wrap around the bottom to hold your phone (see last picture).
Step 4: Or.. Download Plans
Here are the vector drawn plans. Note: this is to fit a Samsung galaxy phone.
You can open the svg files in a vector editing software to edit it to the proportions of your phone, or you can print the pdf.
I tried really hard to make it print "life-size", but since everyone's printer settings and such are different I have included a picture of the dimensions they should have when printed. If you are having problems, printing it directly from your vector program can sometimes help or if you really want/need the plans you can comment and I might be able to help.
(headandcaseletter = letter size)
(headandcase = A4 size)
(body = letter size)
(bodyA4 = A4 size)
After you print, you can cut out and align the head and body using the tick marks, they should form a plus.
Step 5: Making a Prototype
The best and easiest way to see if your plans will work without wasting precious leather is to make a prototype!
Make a copy of your plans (or print a copy of mine) and cut one of the copies out. Use glue where the seams will eventually be and try sliding your phone in. Make adjustments to the plans as needed but keep in mind that leather is thicker and bends less easier than paper.
Step 6: Choosing Leather
Now we have the fun part! Choosing leather!
I had an old leather jacket that would be cool to up-cycle before it gets thrown away so I based my design of of it's color (tan)
I choose a light color to be it's main match and some other scraps I had on hand. I also made a digital sketch of what the end result would look like.
Step 7: Cutting From Leather
I cut out my plans for the pocket in leather and tested it's fit.
I used plain old scissors but for straight cuts it's good to use a ruler and a sharp knife.
Step 8: Burnishing Edges
To burnish the edges I started by cutting off stray scruff one the sides using scissors and patted down the remaining "scruff" with a small craft hammer.
After that, I sanded the edges with 100 or 150 grit sandpaper by clamping the leather between two block of wood (not shown). I found this makes it really easy to get a good sanding with.
I then wet them with saliva [I was testing out if it made a difference--I read that the human saliva breaks down enzymes in the leather and makes it better for burnishing. I don't think it really did though...] but you can (and probably should!) use plain old water.
Then take a slicker--if you have a professional one use it--but if not, use something smooth (I used a bone folder) and rub it up and down the edge you are burnishing.
There are many ways to burnish leather and this instructable is very helpful: https://www.instructables.com/id/how-to-burnish-lea...
After I finished, I used a chalk ink pad to put some color on the sides (and hopefully seal in the burnish).
Step 9: Cutting Out Another Layer
After burnishing, cut another identical layer from another (thinner) piece of leather.
Step 10: Gluing the Two Layers Together
Glue the two layers together so that the grain side of the leather faces out. This new layer with protect your phone from the scruffy back of the cowhide.
Put some books on top to ensure a good glue job. After it dries you can cut off some of the excess leather.
Step 11: Sewing the Inner Edge
Now I hand-sewed the inner edge with a single cordovan stitch (the video below [NOT MINE] is very helpful to learn this stitch) I used simple burgundy thread.
Step 12: Punching Holes
Now use a craft hole puncher to punch holes for the important things you want to still be visible.
Step 13: Shaping the Leather
Use a bone folder and a hammer to make the main creases in the leather.
It helps to slightly wet the leather first.
Step 14: Cleaning the Leather
For the main body of the case, I up-cycled an old leather jacket, so I had to clean it first!
I cut out the main body part by referring to the the plans.
I then used castile soap (which is very gentle on leathers) and, adding some water, brushed it on to the leather with an old toothbrush. I rinsed off the soap with a wet wash cloth, all the time being careful not to wet the split (scruffy) side of the leather. [just so it would take less time to dry]
Another option is to just put all the leather you are using into a wash cycle and replace the detergent with castile soap.
~Castile soap can be bought or made and there are some great instructables you could refer to!
Step 15: Letting It Dry
After washing, I let all the leather dry in the sun.
Step 16: Folding the Leather
*The pictures may not be accurate to the plans I have at the beginning, but that is because I realized some design flaws mid-build and changed it later. (for example: Here the piece pictured is supposed to be the inner layer to the the case, but I realized the leather would be too thick on the folds so I cut it into separate pieces that I turned into pockets)
Fold the leather in the places where you want a nice clean straight line. For me this was at the bottom of the inside pockets.
I used a few small clamps and a long rectangle of scrap wood to make sure even clamping pressure was applied.
Step 17: Making Sure the Pieces Fit
Lay out all you pieces to make sure they fit properly.
Step 18: Sewing on the Ear Pockets
I used my sewing machine to attach the ear pockets to the main body, I made sure to leave on side un-sewn so I would remain a pocket.
Step 19: Gluing "Fold" Leather
I decided to glue some thin leather on the folds to cover the split (scruffy) part and still maintain the easy folding.
Step 20: Making Holes
I used a leather hole puncher to make holes along the bottom of the body. These are preparatory holes for the lacing we'll be doing next.
Step 21: Lacing
To finish off the bottom edge and to add some decoration I decided to add some edge lacing using the double cordovan or double loop stitch.
Tandy leather has a great tutorial for how to do this stitch! (this video is NOT MINE!)
Step 22: Adding the Backing to the Phone Pocket
Cut out some "backing" from the same leather as the main body. It should be the same size as your phone. Make sure everything fits before you sew it together and try to keep a tight fit.
Now take the phone holder we made earlier and sew it onto the backing and fold over and hand sew the bottom flaps to the bottom of the backing as shown.
Make sure that the phone fits snug before and after the final sewing.
(you can also see the hidden pocket slot I cut in the first picture)
Step 23: Cutting a Hidden Pocket in the Backing
If you want, cut a slot into the pocket backing to create a hidden pocket.
Step 24: Attaching Together
Now that you have both the main body and the phone pocket attach them together by using both glue and sewing. Make sure to leave the hidden pocket open and unglued.
Step 25: Adding Velcro
You can choose to add Velcro or any kind of "closing mechanism" to both pockets. To cover the stitches resulting from adding the velcro, you can choose to add little "door nobs"--as I call them. (see next step for pictures of this)
Step 26: Cutting the Closing/Opening Slots
To be able to close and open the phone case, we need to cut the slots in both ear flaps. Refer to the original plans.
After cutting, sew around the slots using the cordovan stitch to seal the edges.
At this point you can leather burn your name on or add any other personal touches you want!
Step 27: You're Done!
Congrats! You've made it :)
Now enjoy the astonished looks on your friends faces as they see your new awesome phone case.
Thanks for reading!