This instructable will show you how to make a custom leather 13” mac book pro case.
I made this one for my sister as a birthday present and this was actually only my second leather working project of all time. She has always been real crazy about Beauty and the Beast so I decided to put the rose and stained glass look on it from the Disney movie. I am very pleased with the outcome of how it turned out, I put a lot of time and effort to teach myself good techniques throughout in order to do it right the first time and make sure it all looked good and fit properly in the end.
I hope you find my steps and directions useful as I have cut and sewn all the pieces on my own without using any other “blue prints” for the job. Some parts for me were a little nerve racking with cutting pieces to make sure they would all fit and still be able to get the macbook in an out with having the pieces still connected together.
Step 1: Tools & Materials
TOOLS & MATERIALS
1) Paper – designing
2) Card board – tracing pieces onto leather
3) Veg tanned leather
4) Milled leather
5) Exacto knife – cutting pieces
6) Ruler w/ cork on bottom
7) Sponge – curring leather, dying leather, leather finishing, mink oil application
8) Wood pieces/something same size as bottom of macbook (for corners to be wet molded)
9) Clamps – for wet molding – preferably with flat ends as we don’t want to leave marks on the leather during wet molding
10) Leather tracing paper – trace design to leather
11) Tape – securing leather to a surface while tracing design
12) Stylus – trace design to leather
13) Swivel knive – carve design into leather
14) Craft tool E-Z adjust stitching groover – to darken design in leather & for straight sewing lines
15) Leather hole punch – punching holes for eyelets
16) 3/8” eyelets – 50 total
18) Eyelet setter
19) Leather dye & paint brushes
20) Leather finishing
21) Mink Oil
22) Thicker & stronger thread to lace back to front
23) Leather thread & straight needle – sewing leather pieces together
ANY OTHER STAMPS/TOOLS FOR YOUR CUSTOM DESIGN!!
Step 2: Design
1.1) This is where I decide how I want the case to fit & look on the mac book. I started with a rough drawing of how I wanted it to look.
1.2) Once I knew the design of the case I could
start to figure out sizes of all the different pieces so they would fit on the mac book. I cut my pieces a little larger than I would usually need as it is better to have a little extra on there than too little. Whatever you don’t use after can be good for smaller projects or scrap for practicing different stamps and techniques
1.3) after I have my pieces drawn out on just a
regular piece of paper in rough, I make up my pieces to scale on some cardboard. This makes it easy to trace onto the leather correctly the first time and now I can re-use these cardboard pieces for making other custom cases in the future.
1.4) put your design on leather tracing paper. when
doing this – I would recommend doing your design on regular paper and then tracing it to the leather paper as you want a clean line on the leather tracing paper with no erase marks if possible.
Step 3: Cutting the Leather
2.1) Cure the leather – to do this you take a clean
container with water and a sponge and wet the entire piece of leather you are going to be using for you pieces. Once the leather is dampened, measure the cardboard out onto the leather you are going to cut it from and trace around the pieces with your stylus. For the larger pieces that are too big for card board just measure out with a ruler and cut them aligned with the ruler.
2.2) Place your leather on your cutting board, align
your ruler (with cork on the bottom so leather doesn’t get damaged from the sharp edges) with your edge you marked and cut the leather with an exacto knife along the ruler so your cut stays straight. Cut all pieces and you are ready to move onto the next step.
Step 4: Trace Design to Leather
3.1) take your leather piece that you
have just cut out and want to have tooled into and place it flat on your workspace. On top of that, place your leather tracing paper that you have designed and place it on top of your leather to the position you want it to be on the leather.
3.2) take some extra scrap paper and make a way so I can tape down the leather tracing paper to the table in order for it to stay in place while I am tracing it. It is very important that you DON’T TAPE THE LEATHER! This would most likely damage the leather. Mark a reference point on the leather tracing paper or on the table as somewhere you know will be easy to remove the leather and put it back in place at that point (for the next step).
3.3) once I
have the reference point located, I carefully remove the leather so it may be cured. I find that if you cure the leather before you set up your tracing papers then your leather already needs to be cured again so I have my tracing area ready to go before I cure my leather.
3.4) directly after you cure the leather, place it back under your leather tracing paper to the reference point and trace it onto the leather with your stylus.
Step 5: Cut & Tool Leather
4.1) Once you can see the design on the leather, you
want to cure it again before you start to use your swivel knife to cut the design into it.
4.2) after the design is swiveled onto the leather
you can bevel the edges of the design with an edge beveler, then use different stamps to tool whatever you want onto it. On this one I decided to use my Craft tool E-Z adjust stitching grover to make my swivel cuts more into a groove in the leather as I wanted it to have a clean stained glass look instead of tooling this one. To change your groover you need to use the allen key to change to the groover tip.
Step 6: Wet Molding Bottom Corners
5.1) To do a wet mold, you are going to have to
find/make something that is the same size as the bottom corner of the mac book. For mine I used a piece of scrap wood from my buddys wood working company I had him make for me. (sorry no instructable for that). I actually had this one old plastic case lying around I almost used but I’m picky and wanted the actual dimensions so I had the wooden piece made. I also wrapped the outside layer of the wood with paper towel as I wanted the rounded edge look instead of a sharp edge. – please note that we are going to be clamping some very wet leather around this so don’t use your mac book!! ;P
5.2) take a clean bowl (or your curring bowl) and fill it with warm water. Take your water sponge and wet the living day out of the bottom corner pieces. I went over them a couple times to make sure they would really take form of my mold. This will make your leather VERY sensitive to everything that touches it so be careful not to scratch the tops of the corners.
5.3) once the corner pieces are fully wet, take your clamps and some paper towel (so the clamps don’t leave marks on the leather) and clamp the corners around the wood so the leather is fairly tight around the wood and clamp the sides with the paper towel in-between.
5.4) let this sit for at least 24 hrs for drying and
then remove the clamps. Your corners should now have took form of the mold you had been using.
Step 7: Punching Sewing & Eyelet Holes
6.1) take your E-Z groove and switch back to the
original tip to make a marker for your sewing holes to go along. Place your leather on your cutting board and using your three prong chisel and mallet – punch sewing holes along the sides of the top corners. Don’t punch through too much or you can dull your chisel blades.
6.2) On the bottom corners – cut up the sides of them & chisel holes where you just cut and along the two sides of the corners – count the amount of chisel holes used on each side for both corners
6.3) take your piece of leather for the spine of the case and chisel down one side for sewing. On the other side, place your ruler ½” in and use your E-Z groove to place marks for the holes to be punched into (25 holes is what I was going to use so 50 total eyelets). Line up your eyelets with your hole puncher to see which size to of holes to use.
6.4) After you have the sewing holes chiseled and the eyelet holes punched out on the corners and spine, you want to line up all those pieces with the top/bottom of the lap top case. This will allow you to see where to punch the holes on those two pieces for sewing together. You want to make sure your hole numbers are the same for which two pieces of leather you are going to be sewing together so they all line up correctly. Add your sewing holes with the chisel to the top/bottom pieces that need to be sewn to the corners/spine and the eyelet holes where they need to be.
Step 8: Stain & Finish
7.1) when I stained the leather I went over the whole thing (all the pieces – both sides – except for the rose) with a sponge and tan color leather dye. To do this, apply the leather dye to a sponge and allow for it to soak in a little. Then in a circular motion, apply the dye to the leather with the sponge. For the darker tan areas on the stained glass I gave them a couple extra layers of the tan leather dye to darken them up from the others. The other colors you see I used colored leather dyes and applied with a small paint brush and for the pink areas I used a pink sharpie. Let dry for 24 hrs
7.2) once the leather is all dry you are now able to apply the leather finishing & mink oil. For this I applied two layers of leather finishing (front and back) let dry each time between for an hour so each then worked in some mink oil with a sponge as well.
7.3) after the mink oil absorbs and sets into the leather it was time to add the eyelets to the holes I had punched earlier. To set an eyelet, push they eyelet through the hole you have punched. Take your eyelet anvil and setter along with your mallet and tap around the setter rolling it in a circle – not straight down and not too hard either or you will damage the eyelet and have to take it off with a potential of damaging the leather. If you have never done this before I recommend doing two or three practice before on scrap leather. Complete all eyelets and lace it together with the top piece.
7.4) thread your sew the bottom corners up the sides and sew the other pieces together
Step 9: FINISHED!!!!
I hope this instructable helped you in making your own custom lap top case. Enjoy! :)
Second Prize in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016