Leather "portmanteau" Bank/ Coin Purse




Introduction: Leather "portmanteau" Bank/ Coin Purse

About: we enjoy working for habitat for humanity.volunteering at our state park.and participating with our leather guild instructing 4H groups, home schoolers,scouts and other young people interested in leather work.

This past winter my husband found a pattern for a portmanteau, an old fashioned piece of lugage, and made it . I was looking through some old leather magazines for some ideas for a bank or coin purse to make. Had a bright idea, why not make a miniature portmanteau. So here it is.

This project is easy to moderate difficulty. A third hand is occasionally helpful.


Step 1: Leather "Portmanteau" Bank/Coin Purse

Tools and Materials"

Awl Leather




2 needles


Dremal with sanding disc


Slicker (can use wooden handle of a tool or smooth dowel rod)

Punches #2 & #8 These are for the stud

Cutting board

Stitching wheel #6( This means 6 stitches to the inch)

Stylus for tracing(can use a pencil)

Needle nose pliers

4/5 ounce carving leather, about 1 square foot



dye or stain, optional

finish coat(tan kote or one of your choosing

John Brown stud or closure of your choice

You can find several leather stores on line and the tools and materials would be carried. Craft stores would carry closures and glues.

Step 2: Leather "Portmanteau" Bank/Coin Purse

The first thing I had to do was come up with a pattern. I had a general idea of the shape, but wanted to make some alterations. I wanted to make a flat bottom and place the handle on the top of the bank.

The flap section is 3 1/4 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches long, curved. The body section is 2 3/4 inches wide and 7 3/4 inches long. The end pieces are 2 1/2 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches long, curved. The strap is 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long.

Cut the pattern out of cardboard or poster board.

Step 3: Leather "Portmanteau" Bank/Coin Purse

I happened to have a piece of scrap leather large enough to lay all the pieces out. If you are purchasing leather you would need about 1 square foot of leather. Dampen the leather lightly. Trace all pattern pieces onto the leather, using the stylus or pencil.

You will need to trace and cut 4 of the end pieces. Cut 2 pieces and mark them 1 on the back or rough side. Then turn the pattern over and trace and cut the other 2 pieces and mark them 2. Two pieces will be glued together back to back. By turning the pattern over, the pieces will match better. You will put a 1 and 2 together for each end piece.

I wanted the handle towards the back of the flap, with the coin slot about 1/2 inch in front of the handle for easy access. The slot should be about 1 inch long to accommodate an American Quarter. Measure and mark the area on the flap for the slot. The slot should be center of the flap.

Take the # 2 punch and punch a hole at either end of the measurement. Take the knife and start at the side of one of the holes and cut towards the other hole. Stop the cut slightly before the punch hole. Stop and turn the project and finish the cut going the other direction. This makes it less likely that you will cut past the end of the slot. Repeat for the other side of the slot.

Step 4: Leather "Portmanteau" Bank/Coin Purse

Measure and mark approximately 1/2 inch from each end of the strap. Take the dremal, with the sanding disc, and thin or skive down the leather, from the back or rough side, about 1/2 the depth of the leather at the 1/2 inch marks. You always skive or thin the leather from the back side to keep from weakening the fibers. This is very messy, I do mine outside on the porch.

Using a 1 and a 2 end piece, apply contact cement to both back or rough sides together. Repeat for the other end piece. I place them under a book with a heavy weight to be sure I get good contact. Try not to get any glue on the good side of the leather, because it will block dye or stain. Let dry for several hours or overnight. After they are dry, hold the 2 end pieces together and even them up with the dremal. Do this outside.

Edge and slick the top and bottom of the flap. Edge and slick only the top of the body. The bottom is a sewing edge. Edge and slick both sides of the handle. Do not edge or slick the end pieces. These are sewing edges.

Edging rounds the edge so they slick easier. Slicking compresses the fibers of the leather and gives a smoother edge to the project.

While the end pieces are drying, take the strap and dampen it. Bend the thinned ends of the strap up. Center the strap on the flap behind the slot. With a piece of scrap leather on top of the end piece of the handle, clamp the strap in place. The clamp will scar the leather if the leather is not protected. Let dry thoroughly. When leather is dampened it will keep the shape when it dries.

Step 5: Leather "Portmanteau" Bank/Coin Purse

I chose to dye this project a cherry red. If you choose not to dye or stain, skip this step. Dye all pieces on both sides. Let dry thoroughly.

Step 6: Leather "Portmanteau" Bank/Coin Purse

Measure where the handle will go and mark their placement. Scuff the areas, with sand paper, on the flap and on the back side of the bent portion of the handle. Glue the areas and again clamp them in place and let dry thoroughly.

After they are dry, set the dividers at 1/8th inch and go around the end pieces of the handle. Now run the stitching wheel over the line. This tells you where the holes for stitching go. Use the awl to punch the holes. For the handle you can lay the piece flat to punch the holes. Place a scrap piece of leather under it so you don't damage your awl.

Pull enough thread off to stitch 1 end. Put a needle on each end of the thread. Pull the needle through the 1st hole until 1/2 of the thread is on either side of the project. From the top of the flap, put the needle through the second hole. Take the thread from the bottom and put it through the same hole. Pull it tight. This is the saddle stitch, which is a locking stitch. The advantage to it, is that if sometime a stitch should break, the whole piece will not unravel. Always put the top thread through the next hole first. Continue to the end and back stitch 1 hole, so that both thread ends are on the underside. Snip the thread close to the leather. Repeat for the other end.

Step 7: Leather "Portmanteau" Bank/Coin Purse

To dry fit is to make sure that all the pieces fit before any glue is applied. A third hand is helpful at this stage. My husband offered his.

First the flap needs to be on the top of the project or rounded end of the bank. I laid the start of the body about 1/3 of the way up sides of the end pieces. I worked the rest of the body the rest of the way around the end pieces. The leather has to be tightly pressed against the ends. If everything fits the way you want it, then mark the beginning and the end of the body on each of the end pieces. This is your glue line.

When I dry tested mine, I found out that I had failed to allow for the thickness of the leather, so the body was not quite long enough. To correct for that I shaved down the flat edges of the end pieces. By the same token, if I had found that the body was too long, I would have cut it down. In the instructions, I had originally given a total length for the body and flap as 9 inches,so I increased the total to 10 inches.

While dry fitting, check for the placement of the closure. Our John Brown stud is more like a rivet, so we applied the stud before sewing. They make these studs with screws, so much easier. I think that with the screw studs, you could wait until the project is sewn.

Step 8: Leather "Portmanteau Bank/Coin Purse

Set the dividers at 3/16th of an inch. Run the dividers from the open end of the body up to the flap. Repeat for the 2nd side. On the end pieces you will need to run the dividers from the 1st glue line , down and across the bottom and up to the 2nd glue line.

Take the over stitch wheel and starting at the end of the body, follow the line up to the flap. Repeat for the 2nd side. For the end pieces, start at the 1st glue line with the over stitch wheel and end at the last glue line. Repeat for the 2nd end piece. It is necessary to do it this way for the holes to line up.

Lightly sand the long sides of the body from the end up to the flap, in about 3/16th of an inch. Lightly sand between the glue lines on the edges of the end pieces. This gives a better surface for gluing.

About 3/16th inch in, apply the contact cement along the long edges of the body, on the back side.. Apply the cement from the 1st glue line to the 2nd glue line on the edges of the end pieces. The contact cement I use recommends applying 2 light coats, and when the glue is tacky to touch, then putting the project together. Follow the instructions for your cement. This is also where the third hand is helpful. Beginning at the opening, work the body around the end pieces, pressing firmly. Make sure you have good contact, and the body is tight against the end pieces. Once I have good contact, I wrap a piece of cloth around the project and place rubber bands around the edge, over the end pieces. This is to keep contact while the glue is drying. Let the glue dry several hours or overnight.

Step 9: Leather "Portmanteau" Bank/Coin Purse

Sewing is probably the most difficult part of this project. This piece is hand stitched. Take a piece of thread 2 to 3 feet long and place a needle on each end. You can run the needle through a small tail of thread and it will make a knot and the thread is not as likely to pull loose.

I found that with as much pressure as was needed on the awl to get through the leather, the glue would stretch. To alleviate this problem, I only punched 2 or 3 holes at a time.

Beginning at the open end of the body, take the awl and from the top of the body, punch a hole at an angle toward the corresponding hole on the end piece. As you get close to going through the leather you can see a . slight bulge. At this point, if the awl is not on the line, you can adjust the awl so it will go through at the right place.

After you have punched 2 or 3 holes, take the needle from the top of the body and run the thread through so you have equal lengths on either side. From the top side, put the needle through the 2nd hole, from the end side run the needle through the same hole and pull tight. Always start from the top side to keep your sew line from zig zagging. If you have trouble getting the needle through the hole, you may enlarge the hole with the awl. I use the needle nose pliers to help pull the needle through. Continue around the bank to the flap end. Back stitch 1 or 2 holes to get both threads on the end side. Snip off the thread and repeat the process on the other side.

Step 10: Leather "Portmanteau" Bank/Coin Purse

If you chose to use the stud type closure, you will need to check where the hole will go for the stud to do through. After locating the spot, use the #8 punch to make the hole. To make the closure tight and keep it from ripping out, take your knife and make slits on either side of the hole.

I used tan kote as a finish for the bank. You could use any finish of your choice. I took a piece of sheep wool and rubbed it on in a circular fashion. After the finish dried, I buffed it to give it a shine.

This was my prototype and I learned a few things that I would do differently. Number one, allow for the thickness of the leather. Number two, I have not done much sewing on a curved project and my sewing could have been straighter. The next time I will use a special tool that makes a groove in for the stitching line. I think it would help me keep my sewing straighter.

I am entering this in the craft contest, so if you like it, please vote for me.

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