Introduction: Leather Button & String Envelope Case

Minimalist at it again. As a huge fan of a strong, simple design, I draw a lot of inspiration from every day items. In this case (see what I did there), a button & string closure envelope. I've made several envelope clutches and cases and decided I wanted to amp it up a little bit. This design makes a great case for your tablet or other gadget but also a fabulous clutch to carry with you. And of course, you can customize it to fit any size item you need.

List of tools needed (majority pictured in the tool image):

1. Leather (I used a 4-5 oz. Veg. Tanned Cowhide)

2. Pencil

3. Ruler

4. Scissors &/or Rotary Cutter

5. Mallet

6. Sponge & Q-Tips, Newspaper for protecting your work surface when dying

7. Cloth

8. Gloves

9. Leather Dye

10. Leather Finish

11. Rivets (I used Brass Double Cap Rivets-Medium)

12. Setter for rivets (With the rivets I chose, I am using a 8100-00 setter from Tandy)

13. A leather punch (Pictured is a Craftool Rotary Leather Punch from Tandy)

14. Round Drive Punch

15. Leather Lace (or some type of cord-for the closure)

16. Lacing Chisel

17. Pro Cutting Board (to protect your chisel from getting damaged and worn down)

18. Waxed Thread

19. Curved Needle & Straight Needle

Step 1: Measure and Plan Your Design

I have a Kindle that I thought I would make a case for. Again, you can make a clutch or case of any size to fit your needs. My Kindle is 5.5"x7.5". I wanted to make sure it was a close fit in the case but not too snug, you need to remember to allow for your stitching. My first design that I drew out (pictured) is slightly different from my final execution. I decided later on that I wanted to add more depth to my case, so I added a small panel on each side. The two panels were each about 1" wide and 6" long, long enough to line up with the top of the envelope and the fold along the bottom. At this point, I had two designs drawn, in this tutorial I created the top design, the horizontal version of this "envelope". The size of this was 8 3/4"x15 1/2". (The rectangular part of the design measures 8 3/4"x12 1/2", allow 3" to the deepest part of the flap, 1 1/4" at the shortest parts of the flap.) I also designed this with a lining in mind, in this example I left it unlined, but lining with a fabric is definitely a good idea for protecting your tablets. Now you can draw your design onto the leather. Measure and lay out your envelope. Then I used a wooden cap that I had to trace out the round leather "buttons" for the button & string closure. I also measured for those two panels for added depth.

Step 2: Cut Your Leather

Now, using a rotary cutter &/or scissors (whatever you're most comfortable with) cut your leather. Cut out the main envelope, the round buttons and the side panels.

Step 3: Press Down the Folds on the Envelope

After cutting the design from the leather, I like to start to really see the shape of my case. I start to press the folds, using a lot of force by hand, often going over them with a wet sponge then tapping with a mallet to press the fold. You may also choose to use a v-gouge here to help make your folds, I don't always find it necessary.

Step 4: Dye Your Leather

Next, choose your color and dye all the leather- the main case, the leather buttons and the side panels. Dye completely and allow to dry then use a leather finish. You may decide you want to do contrasting colors for the leather buttons, panels or both. I also like to remove any surface dye with a cloth before allowing to dry then applying the finish.

Step 5: Create the Lacing Holes for Stitching

Using your lacing chisel, a mallet and a cutting board for leather tools, you can line up the holes that you will later be stitching. These go along the edges of the envelope (and should line up when you fold it) and also on the edges of the small panels. Line up the chisel, give it a nice whack with the mallet, and continue to line up the small holes in this manner. I like to create my initial marks by folding the leather, lining up the sides, then going well through the one layer and then open up the fold to go over these marks better. This helps me to make sure that I'll have well lined up holes for stitching...I'm a tad obsessive and worry prone.

Step 6: Punch Holes for the Rivets

Now, before stitching the envelope together, is when you want to set your rivets and attach the round leather buttons and leather lace or cord for closing the clutch/case. Punch a hole in the center of each circle. Punch a hole in the flap side of the case, line it up with the center of the flap, where you want the round leather button to go. Next, mark where you want the second leather button to line up. Then, using (ideally) a small, round hand punch, line up the punch with the spot you want the second leather button to be placed and give it a good whack with the mallet. You can't use the rotary punch here because it won't reach that spot on the leather easily. I totally neglected to factor this in so I didn't have a round punch to use and instead used a small bit of the same size. It worked out fine.

Step 7: Set the Rivets, Attaching the Round Leather Buttons and Lace or Cord

Now you can set the rivets into the holes you just punched. Using the correct size rivet setter for the rivets you are using, put one side of your double sided rivet in through the hole NOT ON THE FLAP SIDE, line up the leather button on the outside of the clutch, then align the other side of the rivet. Lay the rivet anvil down (curved side to rivet) then lay the rivet on top of it. Line up the rivet setter with the opposite side of the rivet and use the mallet to set the rivet. Next, do the flap side but this time you will line up side 1 of the rivet, place the leather lace on top (I punched a hole to line up with the rivet to make sure it stayed put), then place the leather round, then place the other side of the rivet on top. Set the rivet.

Step 8: Stitch!

This is the time consuming part, only because of having to stitch those panels in. The panels really are optional, you can just stitch the two sides of the envelope together rather than insert those pesky panels but, again, I added them for more depth and a better fit. If you don't add the panels, I would suggest cutting your leather envelope a little wider to make sure you have room for the tablet (if using it as a case) after stitching. SO...line up the panel chisel holes with the side of the envelope and begin stitching. Stitching side 1 of the panels on is quite easy, you can use a straight needle and finish this part fairly quickly. After this step, you'll need to switch to a curved needle to stitch the other side of the panels on when the case is folded. Finish this step and you're done!

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