How to Make a Leather Bookbinders Tool Belt!

Introduction: How to Make a Leather Bookbinders Tool Belt!

Hi! While making a new book the other day I found that I was constantly looking for my tools, so with a few pieces of scrap leather I have decided to (mostly as a joke) make a tool belt.

If your looking for leather, often second hand stores have old jackets and bags which work very well but I would check any labels first to make sure it’s real leather as it’s a shame to destroy perfectly good faux products that someone might use :)

Also I’m not really a professional at this so any advice is welcome, anyway thanks for checking out my instructable!


For this project you will need:

25.5/19 cm of leather, or one piece of 9/18cm and another of 14/16cm (remember to leave a few cm for error).

A piece of 6/2.5cm in felt or fabric to use as the pin cushion.

Some elastic string or a strip of felt, it should be about 1cm in width, and long enough to wrap around each of your thread, I used relatively small spools but it will change if you have a different sizes.

A needle and some thread to sew together the pieces of leather, and a few extra to put in the holder. For sewing together leather I’ve been told it’s better to use waxed string (I have no clue why, but I’m guessing its to stop the string from fraying when passing through the leather).

A tool for making press studs or if you don’t own one of these then you can use a button or make up your own way to securely close pockets so you don’t loose any needles.

You will also need a pencil and paper to draw your your stencil with (the measurements are in the photos in the first step).

A sharp tool like a scalpel or craft knife to cut the leather with. Scissors aren’t the best tool for this as it’s extremely difficult to cut leather with and usually ends up with rough, untidy edges but I would keep a pair handy for cutting threads and lightly evening up sides but they aren’t good for cutting straight lines.

You may need a bradawl or a stitching wheel/ stitching chisel, although if your leather is very thin (like mine is) and can easily be pierced with a needle that will work too, it’s just nice too be able too see where your next stitch will be going before hand.

A tin for craft knife blades or anything sharp you might be using for bookbinding, but this is optional and you can always skip the back pocket or use it for anything other than a tin :)

If your not the best at cutting straight lines like me then I would use a ruler or some kind of straight side of a kind of plastic or metal box, I know this sounds really simple and I didn’t really need to say it but you don’t know how many times I’ve forgotten and messed up to the point that I’ve had to entirely redo something haha

Step 1: Draw Up Your Stencil

in the images there are measurements of the two stencils, the one with less straps is a pocket and is optional but I think it’s useful as I am keeping a small tin of razors and a small pair of scissors to cut string and even out edges of some of the paper, it can also be useful for loose threads and your stencils. If you are not using the back pocket then you will not need the wider strap that is just there to stop the tin from falling out.

Step 2: Cutting Out Your Pieces.

For this part you’ll need some leather and your stencils. Place the stencil on the leather and draw around it, don’t use permanent marker, sharpie or anything that will stain the leather, I would test it out on a little scrap first and make sure it will wash out easily. Once you have it drawn out on the leather you’ll then have to cut it out with a scalpel, remember to use a ruler! You can also make the straps corners rounded with a bottle cap/ glue stick lid or the corner of a library card for smaller rounded corners.

Step 3: Sew Together Pieces

Now you will need your waxed string, the two leather cutouts, your bradawl/ stitching wheel and possibly a scalpel.
Although it isn’t necessary, you can fold along the lines that will make the corners and scrape the leather gently or place it in a vice very tightly for a few minutes, this makes the corners sharper and it stops the leather from folding in the wrong places but if you are using a scalpel 1. I would only recommend this with leather that has a very tight top grain (basically the shinier side of the leather should feel quite compact) or it will sort of tear but this is just based on the quality of the leather. 2. be extremely careful not to cut it through or it will be more prone to tearing.

Now use your bradawl and put small holes on each side of where you are going to sew, although this is not necessary. Sew along the corners of the pocket until it makes a small box shape and then sew the pocket onto the back of the other piece, make sure that the side with two straps is on the same side as the opening of the pocket before attaching.

If you are not making the pocket no leather sewing is required here.

Step 4: Attach the Cloth/felt.

You will need your felt pieces, your long elastic/felt strips and your normal needle and thread.

First sew the rectangle in between the two straps that are parallel to each other for the pin cushion, for a cleaner look you can fold over the edges to hide where the cut lines are, but I would suggest not sewing all 4 sides because your needles could get stuck behind the felt and are quite difficult to get out.
Take your strip of elastic/felt and sew one of the thin ends next to the pin cushion, as shown in the photo. You can also use that same fold over tactic like I explained with the pin cushion.

Step 5: Measuring Thread Hoops

This is quite simple but also easy to forget.
You just need to place your thread under the long strip that is sewed onto the base already and with your finger measure a loose grip around the tread hoop but enough to keep them secure, then mark that place with a pen, sew that line then repeat until you’ve got as many loops as you would like, I put 3 but there’s probably room for 4.

Step 6: Attaching Buttons or Ties.

now you can attach your buttons or press studs, these will only be needed on the 3 tabs, the thin tab at the top will need to go over the bottom one. If you are sewing buttons, cut a small button hole onto the top tab and sew the button onto the other, you will also have to cut a button hole onto the wider tab and sew a button onto the pocket side if you are adding the pocket. If you are using press studs then just make the top one with the flat outside :)

Step 7: Assembly and Finish!

Now your basically done! Just put your thread in the hoops, needles in the pin cushion and tin in the pocket and your all finished! I hope this was helpful of at least interesting, I love making these funny little kit things and I would love to design more, feel free to interpret and change this in any way you want, I even decided to add in a little hoop for my scalpel handle and I had some cool ideas for scissor holsters so go crazy with it. Anyway, have a good day :)

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