Introduction: Make a Beautiful Leather Unicorn Water Bottle Holder
I will demonstrate how to make a pretty water bottle holder that can hang from a belt. The bottle shown is glass, but regular plastic ones fit as well.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- Tandy Eco Flo Paints (turquoise, white, yellow, red, black)
- 3-4oz vegtan leather
- 5-6oz vegtan leather
- Fiebings Hi-Liter dye
- Fiebings Light Brown dye
- Fiebings Light Tan dye
- Tandy Super Shene (for resist and finish)
- Rivets -small and medium
- 1mm thread
- Sponge applicator (for dyeing leather)
- A design on tracing paper
- Gum Tragacanth (to smooth the back and edges of the leather)
- Leather glue
- Chicago screw
- Metal ruler
- Stylus (dry ballpoint pen will do)
- Shaped Chisel
- Swivel knife
- Leather stamping tools: oak leaf left and right, beveling small and medium, geometric, and 3-D celtic
- Box cutter (scissors or leather knife)
- Metal anvil for setting rivets
- Poly kitchen cutting board
- Rivet setter
- Awl or stitching chisel
- Burnishing tool
- Hole punches
- A cat to blame your mistakes on!
Step 2: Cutting
Out of the 3-4 oz vegtan, cut one piece 9 1/2 or 10 x 6 inches, one 4 3/4 x 3/4 in, and 2 pieces 10 1/2 x 1/2 in
Out of 5-6 oz vegtan, cut one piece 12 1/2 x 2 inches.
These weights of leather aren't really important. You can use whatever you have at hand. I started with the 12 1/2 x 2 in strap out of 3-4 oz and didn't like my Celtic stamp placement, so changed to 5-6 to make it seem sturdier.
I cut these with a box cutter using a metal ruler for guidance. Please be careful. I shaped one edge of the 121/2 x 2 belt strap and both ends of the 4 x 3/4 in piece with shaped chisels. If you have a cat, it will magically appear and sit on the part you need to cut. Remove cat, it will reappear, remove it again.....
Note: some of the photos show a small rectangle, it didn't make it to the final product.
Step 3: Edging, Grooving and Burnishing
The belt strap can be personalized or decorated any way you wish as well. I used an edger around all sides. Watch out, this tool looks pretty safe, but really can get you! Then I made a nice line around the shaped half with a stitching groover. Dampen and stamp, if desired.
This piece was from some shaggy belly leather. I used gum trag. and burnished the sides. This means to apply friction to the leather with a smooth tool in order to make the hairy bits stick down. I applied some gum trag. to the flesh side and flattened out the roughness with a glass bottle. A questionable piece of leather turned out nicer than I thought it would.
Step 4: Design and Stamping
Next, dampen your large piece of leather and place your design in the middle. I am using a traditional Scottish unicorn. Take your stylus and lightly press the lines on your tracing paper so you don't tear it, and indent the leather. Once you have indented the leather, lift the paper and see your work of art. After you have admired your glorious masterpiece, cut the lines with your swivel knife. I used a small angle blade. Always cut toward you, about halfway through the leather. Go slow, it is very hard to hide mistakes.
Dampen the leather if it is getting dry. Then, using your mallet and beveling stamps, bevel the "outside" of the cuts to make the image stand out. This is the time to use your other stamping tools to enhance your design. I cut borders on either side and beveled them. Next I stamped downward in between the columns with a geometric stamping tool.
Step 5: Painting
The colors I used were Tandy Eco Flo Paints in red, turquoise, black, white, and yellow. I thinned them quite a bit with water and used small brushes in order to stay in the lines.
Next, I carefully went over the painted parts with Tandy Super Shene in order to provide a resist to the Hi-Liter. Be very careful not to overlap onto the non painted area. Let dry.
Step 6: Dyeing
The main piece was dyed with Fiebings light brown, in small circular motions on the large areas, and a flat paint brush up near the design. Be careful not to overlap. The other pieces were dyed with Fiebings light tan. Dye both sides of the belt strap. This color seems pretty orange, but looks good after the Hi-Liter is applied.
Next each piece was treated with Hi- Liter, one at a time. I used a sponge on a stick tool to put enough Hi-Liter into all the grooves and edges of each piece. Take a piece of neatly folded paper towel to wipe off the excess. The dark color will stay in the grooves and make it easier to see the image.
When dry, apply a coat or two of Tandy Super Shene over everything. Rub with a cloth or wool piece when dry. This makes the leather a bit shiny and protects it as well.
Step 7: Putting It Together
Now to put everything together! This gets pretty tricky and needs to be done in order. First, (1) the belt strap is sewed, (2) the body is formed, (3) the top decorative piece is added, (4) then screwed in place with the belt strap, (5) the bottom decorative strap is partly added, (6) the bottom strap added, and finally (7) the back is riveted in place. Whew!
First, place your large piece on your work surface, then align the flat part of the belt strap with the bottom of your large piece. Then fold over the top of the strap with the rough flesh sides together in order to make a place for your belt to slip through. It needs to overlap the top of the large piece by around and inch. The rounded tip of the strap will be sewed to the back. This is the part you will see when viewing the water bottle holder from the back. I used stitching chisels to make holes for the needle to go through, glued and then sewed it together, tying off the knot on the long flesh side.
Wrap the large piece around a water bottle a bit loosely. Mark where the overlap is. This should be glued and riveted with two small rivets in a place where you do not think you want your final rivets to go. I use an old weight with a piece of leather glued on the bottom as an anvil for setting the rivets inside the bottle. I place a small piece of cutting board on top of this for cutting holes. A chunk of wood works OK at first, but will make your holes and rivets go sideways after much use from indentations.
Next the top decorative strap is glued and riveted to the main body. I glue and then rivet a bit at a time. When you get to the overlapping parts, we will cover these with the belt strap It should be held with a Chicago screw just above the stitching. The bottom of the strap should align with the base of the bottle holder.
Now the bottom decorative strap can be riveted on. Glue a bit then rivet. The bottom strap will need to be attached at this time on opposing sides. Watch out- it is a huge pain to take out rivets if you forget to add it correctly. Now you may need to use medium rivets as the layers get thicker.
Finally, add a few more rivets attaching the body more firmly to the belt strap.
Step 8: You Did It!
I know the last part got a bit complicated but now we have a terrific, one of a kind water bottle holder.
P.S. If you liked this tutorial, please check out my daughter's - Leather Bracelet with Tooled Deer. It is super cute!
Finalist in the
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Addendum: I still use this water bottle holder at outdoor events. Often I run a long strap through the belt loop and wear it over the shoulder purse style.