Introduction: Leather IPod Touch Case Using Water!

Picture of Leather IPod Touch Case Using Water!
I've recently bought myself an iPod Touch, so far it has been great!

I saw the nice leather iPod cases on the Apple but they only have them for the iPod Classic, so, i went about making my own, i spoke to my colleague at work whom used to work in a leather shop, and it turns out its alot easier than i thought.

Here's what you need.

  • Some leather, the thicker the better. I got mine off ebay as a bag of scraps.
  • Some nice thick thread
  • Card, glue and tape
  • A pokey thing (awl)
  • a good sized needle
  • a blunt metal object
  • Water
  • A nice sharp knife

Step 1: Creating a Familiar,

Picture of Creating a Familiar,

Firstly, due to the use of water in this method, i suggest making a rough shaped copy of your iPod/mp3 player.

So, i called upon my trusty gmjboard.

Place your item on the card, and roughly trace it, work out an approximate depth, then build up as needed, due to the curved back of the iPod, i shaved off the corners using a stanley knife.

You don't need to make it spot on, but try to get it close enough.

Once you have your shape, i then suggest wrapping it in tape, i used brown parcel tape for mine.

Step 2: Leather Moulding

Picture of Leather Moulding

Now we need to mould the leather.

Firstly cut two pieces of leather to rough shapes, leave about 20mm round each edge to give you lots of working room.

Place down some sheets of paper, or a tea towel to absorb excess water.

Take your two pieces of leather, and soak them in water, you will know when they are wet through as the leather changers colour.

Place one piece of leather with the rough side up wards onto the table, No place your cardboard familiar, into the centre of the peice. Take the second piece, and lay it on top, gently press down around the edges with your fingers.

Now take a nice round blunt object, most things will work, i used an old fitting of a tunneling machine i had laying around. Use this to press all around the edge of your case. The wet leather should be easy to work with.

As an addition, you could try your hand at embossing, basically take an interesting metal shape, and press it into the back of the leather while its still wet.

Leave the whole thing to dry naturally. Mine took about a day. (make sure to leave your mould familiar in place)

Step 3: Stitch It

Picture of Stitch It

Now that its dry we need to sew the two sections together.

Take the awl (or other pointy thing) and go around the edge of your case, making a hole roughly every 5 mm, keeping about 2-3mm away from the edge of the mould.

Once this is done, you now need to sew. Thread up your needle, i used a nice red thread, and clamp the leather so that the hole remained lined up (trust me, this makes it alot easier)

The best way to stitch is to use two needles, then pass them through the same hole in opposite directions, this gives you a continuous stitch all the way around. You can manage this with one needle by doing a running stitch, then going back on yourself filling in the gaps.

Once you have gone all the way around, tie off the end, then glue the ends inside the case using a small dab of glue. Now is a good time to double check the fit of your case.

Step 4: Finish the Edges

Picture of Finish the Edges

Now we need to trim and finish the edges.

Firstly, carefully go around your case, and trim off the leather, i left about 5mm from the stitch to the cut.

Trim the top clean off so its flush with the edge of your iPod, Then cut a semi-circle for 'finger' holes to allow you to get it out easily.

An extra addition is to cut a small gap at the bottom where the headphone jack is. I did this near the end, so i had to tie off the ends of the thread again.

Once your happy with the shape, you then need to get your hands on some show wax, I applied a small amount of show wax the the edge, then buffed it along using my dremel. Another option is to soak the edges of the case again, then buff it.

Step 5: Completed!

Picture of Completed!

Thats it, you should now have a nice hard wearing iPod case, leather is great as a simple layer of protection.

Let me know what your think, comments are always welcome.

Thanks again



literking (author)2015-08-22

What thickness leather did you use. Like the look of this

Matt2 Silver made it! (author)2015-08-18

Thanks for the awesome Instructable! I used a wooden mold to wet form my leather case and it turned out great.

webmanoffesto (author)2014-06-18

Thanks for posting this great project. I'm sick of my cheapo cell phone holsters. I hope to make my own sometime.

alopez66 (author)2013-12-17

Great idea. Super simple directions. I think I know what some people are getting for Christmas.

Pinoaffe (author)2013-06-21

Where did you get that orange knife?(I've got exactly the same one but in red(I"ve got it from a kind of one dollar/ pound / euro shop ,action))

shawa1 (author)2011-06-13

Would it be easier to stick when wet?

jarikcbol (author)shawa12013-02-23

You might think so, but it turns out, it makes it WAY harder. The wet leather grips the thread and needle like a vice, making it extremely hard to pull through the holes. Now, punching the holes for stitching, THAT step is easier when the leather is wet.

jchamberlain (author)2012-12-17

Can you clarify this statement "The best way to stitch is to use two needles, then pass them through the same hole in opposite directions, this gives you a continuous stitch all the way around." Are you using two needles and two pieces if thread and stitching double?

jarikcbol (author)jchamberlain2013-02-23

I was confused about that myself. However, I will point out that a Stitching Awl, like the one shown in this 'ible, comes with decent instructions on how to use it, And I have garnered excellent results using the methods in those instructions. (if you are going to do this sort of project, get a stitching awl, it is totally worth the cost)

Malicah (author)2012-12-30

I don't know if you still check this, but what type of leather did you use? I can't seem to find any with as good a color/texture as yours.

getoffamycloud (author)2012-03-16

"Once your happy with the shape" --- that "your" should be "you're"

hilfog (author)2010-10-07

I've found that heating the metal shape before embossing it works better. This way, the leather will not lose the embossing when the cover gets stretched, which it will, inevitably.

gmjhowe (author)hilfog2010-10-07

Yeah, that can help seal the shape. However, I wrote this ible a year ago, and the case is holding up fine still!

hilfog (author)gmjhowe2010-10-07

Oh awesome =)
I made a wallet the other day using some really good leather. I found that the embossing I'd made with pressure stretched itself to disappearance. A bit disappointed, I tried water. It didn't come out too well. The metal shape was a letter and it wasn't really very clear at all.
The next attempt, I tried wetting the leather and using a hot metal piece. The leather would sizzle on contact with the piece but ultimately, I ended up with a sort of blunt look. There weren't any details. Didn't look very nice. Especially for a Celtic design.
My most successful attempt at this was using dry leather and embossing it with a really hot metal piece. The details are sharp and the leather wont warp the design.
However this is only for embossing. The water technique overnight works awesome for moulding the shape.
My experience with leather xD

acancilla (author)hilfog2012-01-05

maybe it depends on the leather, different treatments probably affect different leathers in different ways, i also found that dry leather and a hot implement worked well for embossing, but I used the same method for a friends piece of leather and it didn't work at all, with the detailing not at all detailed.

pmn9393 (author)2011-12-20

nice, that would probably be like a 40 or 50 dollar case, put a name in it while your making it and you would have a very nice cheaply made gift, might make one of these for my grandfather. He's scared of cracking his phone so he would love this.

SandDevilJack (author)2011-06-19

SWEET! Your stitching is impeccable, too. I gotta make myself one, now. Thanks!

mahyongg (author)2011-04-06

Hiding the seam would be hard to do, you could either hide one side by sewing with a curved needle and not penetrating fully, skipping the awl step as well, of course, or you could glue the leather which I would recommend.

Apply a pressure-sensitive glue that stays flexible and use a solid leather that does not fray easily, mask the area to be glued off after shaping the leather and drying, apply the glue, remove the masking tape (no glue inside the case, of course!) and press onto the other half (also glued) when glue is dried. You can apply heat from a heat gun to the glue after dry to the touch, try this out, it makes some glues stick better.

Now when you stick the two halves together, two things are critical:
- Alignment (you cant slide the two sticky sides around on each other, so once you get it wrong, you 'll have to start over again, probably with a new piece of leather) which you can achieve by using a guide (eg, two blocks of wood, one on either side if you pre-cut the shape, or holes (outside the cutaway area) to push the leather over a piece of dowel or round metal (cut holes with a hole iron first, then drill through the holes in the leather into a wooden board to get it aligned well)
- Even pressure without applying forces sideways - press from above, don't use rollers because they will push the leather in a direction or stretch the top layer and thus warp the whole thing, so just take a piece of wood with a minimum width as the glued seam, depending on the guides used, and press from above. Press as hard as possible, remember the time of pressing is not as important here as the amount of pressure used.

You can feather the inside (rough side, if you want the rough inside.. aah) towards the edges to create an even thickness of edge, similar to that of the entry edges, which will make it look even more sophisticated ;D

Of course, if you use a thinner leather, you might also just sew it, turn it over, and have a hidden seam as in every piece of clothing, that would work with fairly thick leather if the leather is still wet when sewing and turning over, if you can manage to sew it, wet it, turn it over and then stretch it tight over a mold, this might work well. I have not done this to a shape this flat and wide, but it is worth a try ,D

Btw. great instructable, totally got me interested in doing one from leather as well.. I have used all sorts of things up to now, neoprene, gripper, other textiles.. somehow leather never came into my mind for my iTouch.. strange, eh?

vincent7520 (author)2011-03-31

That makes it so personal !… it's great !…

ploomus (author)2011-03-26

That case looks nice, well done!

rockne1865 (author)2011-01-27

Hey I sew a lot of things with embroidery needles and braided fishing line or dental floss and you can make the holes with a Dremel tool and a small drill bit get a wooden ruler and drill holes through rule lines lay ruler on edge of materal and put bit in holes or you could go to hobby shop and get leather lace and needle

andyspam (author)2011-01-25

"The we leather should be easy to work with." I believe you mean wet.

gmjhowe (author)andyspam2011-01-26

Well spotted! Fixed.

and1boyx (author)2010-12-31

Nice instructables! Got informed more about leather :)

kalyanJampala (author)2010-12-27

It Looks great with the authentic leather that you used. I liked the project.

Isurvival (author)2010-12-21

really great project!!!

renegadezombies (author)2010-10-07

This is a great idea! I'm going to make one but with a hole for the screen in the front and a flap to cover said hole during non-use. If it works out well expect an instructables on it!

dezer (author)2010-09-12

What the devil is a gmjboard?

bojax (author)2010-06-19

really good. made one for my phone and for my ipod nano. what are your thoughts on making a clasp because i lined mine with chamois and it keeps slipping out.

tacamaral (author)2010-06-09

Very, very nice. Looks very professional. : )

rlnbkseeberger (author)2010-01-07

 Hey how do I find this type of leather? The thicker, more rugged kind? All I can find on eBay is thin, fabric-y leather.

dchall8 (author)rlnbkseeberger2010-02-08

Tandy Leather (yellow pages) in the US. 
All I've ever done with leather was with horse tack.  I oiled it and punched new holes to fit a bridle, stirrups, and saddle to a smaller horse.  Tandy had the tools and taught me what I needed to know in a few minutes using their scraps.  Come to think about it, they had scraps larger than the pieces used for this 'ible.  Tandy's leather is very raw looking.  You'll probably want to stain in. 

If anyone wants to sell you a squeeze type tool to make holes in leather, back away slowly.  The only tool that works is a punch used with a hammer. 

masterochicken (author)dchall82010-06-05

I have used squeeze type leather punches and they work fine for belts and the sort. Maybe your leather was just a bit thick.

gmjhowe (author)rlnbkseeberger2010-01-09

 Try looking for upholstery fabric, this batch was some offcuts from a furniture place!

Ouchimoo (author)2010-05-08

Sooo, can you use any of the tanned leathers that are already dyed and processed and not just vegetable tanned leather? I was under the impression that vegetable tanned leather was the only stuff that you could mold when it was wet.

ibayibay1 (author)2010-04-02

 this is the only hard instructable i will actually do

nejo0017 (author)2010-01-14

really nice!! thanks for the instructable!
regards from germany,

bad ass pope (author)2009-12-28

Hey, nice instructable, but why don't you just put the iPod in the case upside down instead of cutting a little hole for the headphones in the bottom? You'll probably just turn it upside down when it's in your pocekt anyway, won't you?
I've got a case similar to this one and I find that putting it in top-first alows me to plug both headphones and the USB in at the same time whilst my iPod's still kept cosy!
Other than that, great job! :-)

doctorbigdaddy (author)2009-12-18

I made a similar case and , to make it easier to retrieve the IPOD when I was sewing the two halves together I sewed a piece of stout ribbon to the front piece (on the inside) this is draped down into the cavity and the end brought out and left about an inch and a half long.Then sew the two halves together and ,when finished, sew and glue a small tab of leather to the other end of the ribbon. When you want to retrieve the IPOD or Iphone simply pull on the tab and the device rises effortlessly from the pouch.You can avoid the notch in the top which offers more protection for the device.To further titivate the construction you could cut a small slit in the back of the case and thread the ribbon through this slot. This would make the ribbon center on the devise and keep the ribbon from twisting.Your idea is great and your illustrations supurb!!

LisaPolyester (author)2009-12-17

Excellent Instructable.  Thanks, you've encouraged me to build a custom case for my Kindle.  I may even dye the leather.  I will also add that a better source of "some nice thick thread" is your local bead shop - ask for "Nymo."  It's cheap, comes in lots of colors and thicknesses and it's original use was for sewing shoes.  Now it's commonly used in jewelry-making.

jesse.r (author)2009-11-27

any ideas on how to hide the seam for a more streamlined look?

gmjhowe (author)jesse.r2009-11-27

 You could try waxing the thread, and also using a colour that matches the leather closely.

Nugae (author)2008-12-29

A tip for sewing leather: If you can still track down an old-fashioned cobbler, you may get the right kind of thread, needles, and other tools like awls. But one way or another, track down a chunk of solid beeswax (or the real thing - cobbler's wax), thread the needle and then coat the thread by dragging it over the wax. This will both make the sewing easier and preserve the thread for a longer life.

tehooper (author)Nugae2009-09-18

If you have a Tandy Leather store in your area (or if you don't, shop online) you can buy pre-waxed thread, or optimally, sinew, which is very tough and sticky, and will begin to bond with itself once threaded to might a tight steal in the stitch holes.

Nugae (author)Nugae2008-12-29

... and the "limited edition" (for those who want to protect their iPods from scratches and discoloration, or otherwise have too much time on their hands): before molding the leather, laminate the rough side with undyed chamois. You may first want to thoroughly wash out any residual chemicals in the chamois with a gentle laundry detergent and let it dry completely before gluing it to the leather outer.

gmjhowe (author)Nugae2008-12-30

I actually work with an 'old-fashioned cobbler' he used to work in a leather shop doing saddles and the such. Most my knowledge comes from him! Thanks for the suggestions.

NRen2k5 (author)2009-09-09
Very nice.

My advice for someone who reads this instructable and wants to do some more leatherwork of their own:
  • You might want to get a stitching punch. It's a tool that looks kind of like a little fork. It makes it easy to make perfectly spaced and lined-up holes for stitching.
  • If you want to engrave or stamp patterns, then "tooling leather" is the kind you should be using. Some leathers don't take an impression very well, but that's exactly what tooling leather is made for.
pyroninja21 (author)2009-08-26

I'm gona work on a instructable like this ill post if it works out right if i dont post dont ask may involve explosion

Philthy.Sohoza (author)2009-08-12

good instructable! here is something I've done for similar cases: cut your leather about 15 to 20% larger than your ipod form, sew it together first, then put the form in and submerge in HOT, but not boiling, water. it will shrink to the form and get hard as a rock. just let it dry over night. google water hardening leather.

madhops0620 (author)2008-10-19

Is there anything else I could use besides that gmjboard? I don't think it would be very easy for me to get my hands on that stuff. I tried using thick cardboard and wrapping it in packing tape but it was pretty flimsy and uneven, and I couldn't get the thickness to be similar to that of the ipod's

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a British Graphic Designer and Photographer, when I am not working, I spend my time making an array of projects. I used to ... More »
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