Introduction: DIY Denim Watch Strap

I've seen so many great leather working projects on this site! However, I have absolutely no experience with leather working, and being a full time engineering student, I have never had the time to get into a new hobby. From what I've seen,leather working requires a few tools, none of which I have right now.

A few weeks ago, I came across this great instructable on making Leather Watch Straps, by nikolas1614. And I love watches, so when I saw that beautiful watch strap, I knew I wanted to make my own!

That's how I came up with these watch straps. I decided to use denim instead of leather by repurposing one of my old jeans. Making these is super simple and they cost nearly nothing. Plus, making one set of straps takes just around an hour!

(Alternatively, you could use any material of your choice-think old backpacks, canvas, jackets, blazers, whatever! With wearable technology booming right now, and new smart watches being released almost every month, you could change the watch face and put on a matching strap to have a (almost) new watch every day! )

Before we begin, there are a few things I would like to tell you:

  • I would really love it if you make these yourself and share pictures of your watch straps in the comments section! (EDIT: Head over to the comments to see some awesome watch straps others have made and shared!)
  • Please enlarge each picture and read the image notes. This will help you better understand the steps.
  • This is my first instructable. Constructive criticism is welcome.
  • If you like it, please vote for me in the contests :)

Step 1: Stuff You'll Need

Most of the things you need for this project, you probably already have :)

  • Old Jeans
  • Sharp Scissors
  • Fevibond, or any rubber based adhesive.(I also tried Cyanoacrylate and Fabric glue but found rubber based glue to work the best)
  • A fine tip marker
  • Some Card paper
  • Needle and thread (The sewing is optional, but I suggest you do it, because it makes the strap look really nice. If you haven’t done any sewing before (and I hadn’t before this project either), I recommend checking out this instructable on How to sew by jessyratfink. That’s where I learnt from too, and what you’ll learn in it will be more than enough for this project. You just need to learn the running stitches)
  • A Compass
  • Watch buckle (You could also take this off your existing watch strap if you want)
  • And of course, your watch.

Step 2: Making a Paper Template

Let’s begin by making the longer strap first. The first thing you’ll want to do is draw a template on the card paper. [pic 1]

The one I drew is for a standard 22mm watch strap, but you could really make one for any dimension and design that you wish.

Basically, the width of the rectangle must be 3 times the width of your strap, and its length must include the tip of the strap. Additionally, there’s a small tab at the top, which will be folded in.

Cut out the template and transfer the drawing onto the back side (or the interior) of a piece of your jeans. [pic 2]

Don’t throw away the paper template just yet, as it will be used again later.

Step 3: Time to Sew

In nikolas1614’s instructable, the sewing is one of the final steps, and serves the purpose of holding the three layers of leather together. In my project, the sewing is done in this step mainly because:

  • It’s only done to give the strap the “classic watch strap look”, and isn’t actually used to hold the fabric together.
  • Sewing one layer of denim right now is MUCH easier than sewing three layers later.

So to ensure that my stitches were in a straight line, I drew an outline all around the strap, and added additional markings to help me keep the stitches even and equidistant. [pic 3, 4, 5]

Once you’re done sewing all around, cut the piece of denim to shape. The pointy tip of the watch strap will be cut later [pic 6]

Step 4: Folding and Sticking

To begin folding, apply glue to one side of the cut-out and to the middle. Wait few a few minutes, before folding the side in onto the middle, and apply even pressure to ensure it’s stuck nice and firm [pic 7]

Now before folding in the other side, the little tab on the top has to be folded down. Within this is where the spring bar will sit, and will hold the watch strap to the lugs of the watch. Apply glue, fold down and stick the tab, ensuring that there is a hole at the top, through which the spring bar can pass. [pic 8, 9] You can use the compass to widen this hole if required.

After that, the other side can also be glued in the same way.[pic 10]

Step 5: Cutting the Pointy Tip

Once the three layers of denim are stuck and dry, the tip of the strap can be cut to shape using a pair of sharp scissors. [pic 11]

Add a small drop of glue on the edges of the tip, and spread it out evenly, to prevent the threads from becoming loose and coming out.[pic 12]

Your almost-completed watch strap should look like in [pic 13]

Step 6: A Random Idea

It was at this point that I got the idea to add the small Levi’s label to my watch strap to make it even more jeans-y.

I carefully cut off the label from the back pocket of my jeans and glued it to the side of my watch strap.[pic 14]

I think it looks pretty sweet, and this is my favourite part of the strap! If I could do this again, I would have stuck this label to my strap before folding in the side in step 4. This would have it sandwiched in between two layers of the denim and it would be more secure. However, even now, it is quite well stuck, and in the two weeks that I have been wearing this strap with my watch, it hasn’t come off or gotten loose.

Step 7: Making the Holes

For this step, I just used the compass to poke holes on the watch strap. [pic 15]
But you must be extremely careful in ensuring that the holes lie on the centerline of the strap, and that they are placed equal distances apart.

Being extra careful in this step is very important. If you mess up the holes, all your hard work this far will be wasted! If you have access to a hole punch, it would be a good idea to use it.

Once the holes are made, the longer strap is done![pic 16]

Now time to move on to...

Step 8: The Shorter Strap

The process for making the shorter strap is exactly the same as the longer one. Take the paper template you made earlier, and draw the lines on it as shown in[pic 17]

Cut along the red line. Just as before, transfer this drawing onto the back of a piece of denim.[pic 18]

Then draw an outline to indicate where you'll sew (if you need one) and begin sewing. Once the sewing is done, cut the denim to shape.[pic 19]

The shorter strap has the little tabs on both ends: one to hold the watch buckle, and the other, where it will hold the spring bar which connects the strap to the lugs of the watch. So here are the steps to follow ( I think i did not take enough photos during this step so I'm gonna try and explain it in detail. Check the numbering on the image note in [pic 19] ):

1. Apply glue to areas 1 and 2, then fold and stick them together.

2. Apply glue to both the tabs, areas 4 and 5, and fold them in an stick them as well. Again, make sure there is a hole on both sides of the strap for the spring bars to pass through.

3. Then apply glue to area 3 and stick. [pic 20]

(If you have any queries, shoot em at me in the comments!)

Next, cut out a small hole on any one of the sides - this will be where the watch buckle is inserted.[pic 21]

Step 9: Making the Loops

In this step, we'll be making the two loops of the watch. To do this, I decided to use the leather brand label from my jeans. Of course, you can make yours with denim if you wish. You could also use the belt loops from the jeans, which would simplify this step a little.

If you choose to use the leather brand label, remove it from your jeans and cut it into thin strips. Since my brand label was not as thick as I had expected it to be, I stuck the strips onto another piece of denim to provide an additional layer, and then cut that out as well. [pic 22]

Now you'll have to form a loop with these small bands. It is important that the loop must be big enough to accommodate both the straps - the shorter and the longer one. So before sewing the loop, ensure that both straps fit into it by folding it around the two straps. [pic 23]

Then sew the two ends of the strips to form the loop.[pic 24]

Remember to make two of these. You may attach these to the shorter strap if you like, either by sewing or sticking.

Attach the watch buckle, and fix the straps to your watch. Aaaand you're done!![pic 25]

Step 10: Wear It With Pride!

Now you can wear your watch and flaunt the straps with pride! I have worn mine for around 2 weeks now, and have also gotten some requests from my friends to make a set of watch straps for them too!

I have attached pictures of a few other straps I made as well. Needless to say, feel free to tweak and change the design to your heart's content!

I hope you liked my first instructable! Thanks for reading :)

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