This week I decided to have a go at making a durable doorstop, as I currently have a couple of tubes of Pogs holding my office door open (yes seriously, Pogs - my childhood toys!)
Leather was my material of choice thanks to it's toughness, and I haven't worked with leather much before so I was eager to learn.
This project turned out to be a little more labour intensive than I imagined, thanks to the amount of hand stitching I did through thick leather, however I really like the result.
I hope you enjoy this Instructable :)
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Step 1: What You Will Need
- Leather: I used 2 pieces of vegetable tanned ('veg tan') leather in a natural colour. I already had these pieces, and I believe they are both 2.5 mm thick, although the piece I used for the sides of the doorstop were stiffer. You don't need to use leather quite this thick as it does make it harder to stitch, however you do want it to be fairly stiff so that the sides of the pyramid hold their shape.
- Leather tools; I used a 7-in-1 tool thatt included a stitching groover and an edge-beveler.
- Utility knife; If you use thinner leather than I did, you could use an X-acto knife.
- A piece of cheap woven fabric; I used calico.
- A sewing machine and/or a needle and thread.
- Plastic pellets to weigh the doorstop down; You could use a weight, or a bag of sand/rice instead, but I used plastic pellets meant for use in toys.
- Leather dye: I used a dark brown dye, but you don't need to dye any pieces if you don't want to. You will also need a sponge or scrap of material to apply the dye, and some latex gloves to protect your hands.
- Cutting mat
- Leather burnisher & fine sandpaper (optional); To get a nice finish on the leather edges.
- An awl
- Sewing pins
- Leather needle and thick thread; Pick your thread or cord first, and then choose the narrowest leather needle that can hold that thread/cord. I chose to use a 1 mm waxed leather cord, which is very tough but also comparatively thick so can be a bit trickier pulling it through the leather. Waxed leather thread is the best idea.
- Pliers; I used my jewellery pliers to pull the needle through the leather.
- Diamond chisels or stitching awl; To make the holes in the leather.
- Scrap wood or thick cardboard
- Piece of rope for the top of the doorstop.
- Funnel; optional but recommended.
- Pens to mark temporarily on leather and fabric; I used a white water-soluble pencil, and a disappearing fabric pen.
Step 2: Cutting Out the Pieces
First you will need to make a template. I had already bought my leather, and I needed to work out how to cut 4 equal-size triangles from my large piece.
So I cut a piece of paper to the same size as my leather (which I believe was approx. 20 x 24 cm) and then sketched out a triangle shape. I drew a triangle with 2 sides 18 cm long, and 1 side 10 cm. I cut out this triangle and made sure I could fit 4 on the leather.
Once you have decided on your shapes, draw around your template onto the leather 4 times, trying to minimise wasted leather. I used a water-soluble white pencil and a ruler to do this.
Then use a utility knife, metal ruler and a cutting mat to cut these shapes out.
You will also need a square of leather for the base, which is the same length as the base of each triangle shape. In my case, my square measured 10 x 10 cm.
Step 3: Beveling, Burnishing & Sanding
If you don't have the tools, you can skip this step, but these processes make the edges look a lot neater.
First, you can use an edge-beveler to take off a thin slither of leather - on the top and the bottom of each edge - to basically round off the edges roughly. You are trying to get a rounded edge rather than a square edge.
Next, you can sand the edges of the leather, again to aim for a rounded edge profile.
Then finally you can burnish the edges for a smooth shiny finish. I used my finger to transfer a little water to the leather edge to make it damp, then rubbed my wooden burnisher back and forth quickly along the edge. Friction makes the edge go slightly tacky/sticky and shiny.
Do the same for all the edges.
Step 4: Use the Stitching Groover
Take your stitching groover and drag it along each edge of the leather pieces to create a groove.
Set the metal arm connected to the groover so that the groove is positioned 5 or 6 mm from the edge.
Make sure the sharp side of the groover is held against the leather, and the groover held at an angle like shown.
Step 5: Dye the Leather
Protect your work surface, and wear latex gloves to stop your hands being dyed :)
Then apply some dye as evenly as you can to the surface of any leather you want to dye. Add oil to the leather beforehand (e.g. olive oil) to help the dye go on smoothly. I didn't have any oil available so my dye was a little blotchy.
Once dry, I then cut off the tops of the triangles - the same amount on each. I made the cut just below where the stitching grooves cross. I sanded/burnished these cut edges as before.
I then added another layer of dye, making sure to also dye the edges.
Leave to dry.
Step 6: Adding the Stitching Holes
You can use a stitching awl for this purpose, but I used a single-point diamond chisel and a hammer.
The aim is to make holes along every edge of every shape, 5 mm apart. So first, I used my ruler to measure and mark every 5 mm (using an awl) around the square of leather. You want to make these marks in the stitching groove, and don't insert a hole less than 5 mm from any edge.
I then hammered a diamond chisel into the leather at each awl mark to make the holes all of the way through.
- It's a good idea at this point to decide how the pieces are going to be arranged and add marks with an awl or marker on the back to show how they fit together correctly. -
Then use each side of the leather square as a template to add holes to the corresponding triangle piece. To do this, put the square and triangle wrong sides together, line up the edges, and push an awl through the holes in the square to mark the correct points on the triangle edge below. Then use these marks to add holes in the correct places with a chisel.
Do the same thing with the triangle sides, first measuring out and adding holes every 5 mm to one piece, and using this as a template to add holes to the leather triangle that will be adjacent, and so on...
Step 7: Making the Weighted Centre
Next, we need to make a pouch to contain the plastic pellets in the centre. You can skip (or alter) this step if you wish to add something else inside as a weight.
I first cut out a square of calico, and put the leather square underneath so I could see the shape through the fabric.
I then used a disappearing fabric pen to draw a square in the centre of the fabric that was smaller than the leather square. This will be the width of the pouch inside, so make sure it's small enough to fit inside the doorstop.
I then added triangle shapes on each side of the square, of equal size. These must be at least a few cm shorter than the leather triangles. Then add extra 'flaps' to the triangle edges approx. 0.5" wide. None of this needs to be very accurate.
Then cut around the outer line.
Step 8: Finish the Inner Pouch
Pin the edges of the fabric triangles together 1 or 2 at a time and sew along the drawn lines to create a triangular pouch. I just used a straight stitch on my sewing machine.
Note that when you are sewing up the last opening, leave a gap of around 2".
Use this 2" opening to enable you to turn the pouch right-sides-out.
Then use a funnel to pour the plastic pellets inside the pouch until it's almost full.
Then pin the opening closed and use a needle and thread to hand sew the opening shut (you won't be able to do this on the sewing machine because the pouch is now too tall/full.)
I just used a whip stitch to close the opening.
Step 9: Stitch the Leather
This is the time consuming part, but also the most rewarding!
We're going to be doing whip stitch to attach all the edges of leather togther. It's up to your what order you attach them in, but think about what order is going to be easiest for you.
The length of thread I used was 5 times the length of the leather edge I was intending to sew. Over-estimate, particularly when using thick leather like I am.
Thread one end of your thread/cord through the leather needle, and tie a knot in the other end.
Take your thread through the first hole in one triangle, from back to front. Then into the first hole in the adjacent triangle from front to back. You simply continue this very easy whip stitch method all the way along the edge.
I chose to join 2 pairs of triangles together first, then joined those pairs together so that there were 4 triangle in a row with 2 unsewn edges in total.
If the hole is not big enough, use an awl to enlarge it. If you're struggling, use pliers to help you pull the thread through the leather.
Step 10: Carry on Stitching
I then attached the square base along 2 edges in the same way, with whip stitch.
Then I sewed along the final 2 adjoining triangle edges, making sure that when I started sewing at the top, I attached the loop of rope securely using the thread.
Finally, I inserted the weighted pouch and stitched up the final 2 sides of the base. These were the most fiddly, and required pliers to grab the needle and pull it through every time!
To secure the end, I just fed the needle through the nearest completed stitch, pulled the thread until there was just a small loop of thread left, then went through this loop twice before tightening. Then I cut the thread and pushed the end into a seam to hide it.
Step 11: Finished!
Now you can admire your finished doorstop!
I hope you have enjoyed this project :)
Participated in the
Sew Tough Challenge