Introduction: Leather Toiletries Kit

About: I'm a professional recycler in Oakland, CA. I play & coach lacrosse and string a lot of sticks. I make most of my own furniture and like to build everything from houses to chicken coops. I make surfboards, …

Hi Everybody! (in my best Dr. Nick voice) This is my first Instructable.

In this project, I used vegetable-tanned leather, urethane-coated nylon, a purse zipper, and a piece of thin cutting board plastic to make a travel kit for toiletries. I've made my own stuff all my life, from buildings to furniture to surfboards. I'm comfortable with hand tools of all kinds and love new challenges. I don't watch much TV, so need quiet things to do in the evening while casually supervising my kids' homework. I've always admired leather travel gear, but not the price tags. So I recently got into working with leather, thanks in large part to some great Instructables on punching & saddle stitching. A little YouTube, a little Amazon Prime, and I was ready to go. This is my 3rd leather project, but the first one I thought anyone might want to try...

Step 1: Layout

Start by drawing up a basic plan, with dimensions based on the leather you have. Measure & draw lines, then cut everything apart. For soft leather (split grain, often sold for clothing) scissors are fine.

I'm using a piece of thin plastic cutting board sandwiched between the bottom layers to provide some structure.

Step 2: Gluing and Stitching the Base

Leather glue is really useful. It strengthens the seams and keeps everything straight for punching and stitching. Binder clamps are great for getting the glue set up, and some weight keeps everything flat. Punching and stitching seams is pretty straightforward. I got my tools from Amazon and use waxed thread.

Step 3: Connecting the Walls and Adding Them to the Base

My leather wasn't long enough to make the circular wall out of all one piece, so I will have seams on the sides. Since those will be visible, they'll be folded over and saddle stitched. Once the wall is complete, I'll glue and stitch it to the base. In this step, I'm doing all the work with the bag inside-out.

Step 4: The Zipper

A purse zipper is different from a coat zipper, in that both ends will be fixed. Its sold by the yard or the meter, and you can use 1 or 2 sliders.

My idea was to stitch a tab on the end of the zipper which will open, then stitch that tab to the bag, with the zipper left long but the slider already in. Then I stitched an open tab to the other end to define the zipper's final length. Next, I opened the zipper past the tab (without pulling the slider off) and glued both sides of it to the leather. Once I knew exactly where the zipper would end, I cut it off, folded the open tab around it, and stitched the end closed.

At this point the bag was functional, but unlined and the zipper was glued in but not stitched.

Step 5: The Liner

For the liner, I'm using polyurethane-coated nylon. I got a bunch of nice scraps from a tent maker. This needs a different kind of glue. My sewing machine wasn't working right, and these pieces are pretty small, so I just hand-stitched the liners. Again, this looks inside-out, but unlike the bag, it will actually stay that way. When the liner is in the bag, the liners seams will be up against the bag's seams, and all will be invisible.

The camera's not acting funny, each of my boys' bags got a different color blue for the liners.

Step 6: Final Assembly

The top edge of the liner is folded over and glued and then glued to the underside of the zipper. Once all that glue is set, I punched through the leather, the zipper, and the liner and saddle-stitched the whole thing.

The extra glue around the seam scrapes right off.

Thanks for reading and I hope its useful! Leave a comment if you like it, or if you've got tips which would add to the instructable!