First of all I am not a professional leather craftsman, so this is not an instructable on how you should make these things but instead an instructable on how I made them. If you have any professional advice for me I would like to hear them in the comments. I am sure a professional might even cry while reading this and the items might not last for a lifetime (I will update this instructable in 60 years, so you will find out), but I tried my best and I loved doing it.
I usually keep my cards in a card holder (ID or passport holder) and my money in a really small wallet. My previous wallet started to wear out and I found it really hard to get one that is small enough and looks great. I also wanted to make something out of some leather I found. I have decided to try to make a card holder too. I documented the process and I hope you can learn something from it.
Mostly I used regular crafting tools, the only things I ordered were the chisel set and the snaps set with tools. I ordered these from ebay so I don't have to spend a fortune on this project. I can also use these tools later for other projects. The other interesting tool is the hole punch pliers. You can live without it by carefully cutting a hole with the utility knife.
- Leather to work with
- Metal ruler
- Utility knife
- 4mm chisel set
- Snap fastener and tools
- Hole punch pliers
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Step 1: Cut the Leather to Size
I got some finished nice brown leather and I wanted to make good use of it. It is about 2mms thick and fairly soft. I am not familiar with the types of leather, but I can say that it is dyed and I believe it is called finished leather. This leather is used to cover car interior parts.
I used a regular pen to mark the back of the leather. I wanted a more or less 70mm by 100mm card holder, so I measured a 145mm by 200mm rectangle as I will fold it 2 times. I used a metal ruler for the measurements and a utility knife to cut it. I like to cut the leather in one good deep cut instead of going trough the same cut a few times. I found that this might stretch the leather out of shape, so you have to push the ruler down really hard. (I should try to not cut it in one go) I had a wooden board under the leather, so I don't ruin anything under it.
For the wallet I wanted to make sure that 2 times folded paper money can fit inside with a few coins. After measuring our mighty and glorious Hungarian Forints I found that the inside should be around 85mm by 50mm. Add the stitching to the sides and you get around 90mm. I would like the flap (I believe to closing part is called flap) to cover more than the half of the wallet so lets try 35mm. Adding these together I got that I need a 90mm by 135mm piece. Marking and cutting this worked the same way as with the card holder.
Step 2: Cutting the Card Pockets
There are no pockets. You can slide the cards into the slots and the back of the cards will be in the main pocket of the holder. So these are not separate pockets for the cards, these slots only separate the cards from each other so it is easier to pull one out. The main pocket of the holder can contain bigger cards, important papers or paper money.
After explaining the use of the not so pocket slots it is time to make the measurements. I went with 8 slots, 4 on each side. The topmost slots are 20mm from the top side of the leather. Every other slot is 10mm away from the previous one. The sides of these slots are 5mm from the sides of the leather and they are 62.5mm wide. This leaves a 10mm space in the centre where we will fold it in half. I know this can be confusing but it is hard to explain in a second language so just take a look at the pictures and you will get it.
I made the marks with the same regular pen on the back of the leather and carefully cut it along the metal ruler.
Step 3: Stitching the Card Holder
First you need to puncture the leather. I use 4mm diamond chisels (I believe they are called) to punch stitching holes. In the beginning I used an old screwdriver which I filed sharp and pointy. You can also use that or an awl.
First I punctured holes to the ends of the slot openings. I used 4mm spacing and I punched the chisel with a hammer. I made the marks and the holes on the back side of the leather. These stitches are necessary so the leather will not rip during the usage at the ends of the openings. I punctured only one layer of the leather. The openings are 10mm apart from each other and I used the 4mm spacing which leaves 6mm spacing between the slot end stitches. First I wanted to stitch every end of every opening one by one, but I tried to stitch them in lines. The alternating 4mm and 6mm stitches make it look unique. If you don't like it, you can stitch the ends one by one. These stitching holes are at the ends of the openings so 5mm from the side of the leather on the edges.
Then I drew 2 lines 2.5mms from the edges of the leather on its back side. These will be the stitchings which hold the card holder folded. I used 4mm spacing and did 4x24 holes. You can fold the leather in half and make the holes trough 2 layers, but I found that this way the holes are a little bit too big. Take a look at the pictures to get what I am trying to say.
I use a kind of nylon thread for sewing machines I believe. It is really strong, it might be exactly for leather and it melts when I heat it. It is a shiny grey colour.
First you need to stitch the ends of the openings and only after that can you stitch the sides. I don't think I am qualified to teach you how to stitch leather, you can find a lot of saddle stitch instructables. For the finishing of the saddle stitch at the openings I tied a knot on the back side of the leather and melted this knot carefully. Once I was not able to pull the two threads and the knot harder, I knew the threads are melted together. After that I cut the threads as close to the knot as I could.
After that you have to fold the piece in half and stitch the sides. I made two backstitches and tied a double knot between the two layers of leather. I tried to melt the double knot, but I don't really know if I managed to do so.
If you find that the layers are not perfectly aligned, you can cut off the excess along the metal ruler. Next time maybe I will punch two layers at once.
Now you have to fold the card holder in half again. You can dampen the leather. I used spring clamps and leftover leather to cover the holder. This way the clamps will not leave any marks on my leather.
Step 4: Making the Mini Wallet
Making the stitching holes for the mini wallet worked the same way as with the card holder. I marked 2 10mm long lines 2.5mm from the edges of the leather. I punched the holes with the 4mm diamond chisels. I stitched the sides of the wallet. I used the same backstitch and double knot technique as with the card holder.
I marked the places for the snap holes and used the hole punch pliers to make the holes. You can get away with cutting these small holes with the utility knife carefully. Be sure to make the appropriate sized holes for your snaps. It can depend not only on the size of the snaps but also on the type. After making the holes insert the snap pieces and use your tools to fasten them. I found that one good blow with the hammer is better for me. If I try it with several blows, the snap will lean into one direction.
Step 5: Finishing the Edges
Now it is time to finish the edges of the leather. You can skip this step if you find the natural look better. I used fine grit sandpaper to even out the edges and make them really straight. After that I wet the edges just a little and use a piece of fine cloth and rub it. After doing it for a while the edges are much nicer and wear will be less visible with this technique. I have never tried a burnisher, maybe I will try it someday.
Participated in the
Sew Tough Challenge