November was ticking down and not enough money for gifts, again . . . the gift ideas that I had supplies for were mainly of the duct tape and fabric scrap variety, not that there's anything wrong with that, but I longed for something with more pizzazz. I was actually driving back from the dollar store with extra duct tape when . .
what to my wondering eyes did appear, on the curb, not a full block from home
But a discarded leather couch and chair, slightly moist from the rain
And possibly otherwise not too bad for wear and tear
I had my husband/sidekick check them out on his walk to get groceries, YES! Both of them leather!
I usually moan about how early it gets dark this time of year, but in this instance I could hardly wait until after dinner for full darkness to fall so I could make my surreptitious harvest. If a simple curbside pick up was all that was needed, I would have had no problem popping it in the van to take it home, but this seemed to be a sectional, already broken into several large, awkward pieces. So I trekked down the block with my kitchen shears and a plastic grocery bag. About 15 minutes later, I had filled the bag with a number of leather swatches. The sides and back of the pieces were vinyl, but the arms and seating surfaces seemed to be leather ( only damaged in a few spots by feline claws). Hurray!
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Step 1: Brainstorming, Pattern Making
Ok, I not only looked through Instructables for leather projects, I also opened a Pintrest account ( yeah, another few days wasted)
Did I mention that I don't have any leatherworking experience? That my only leatherworking tool is an inherited leather hole punch (and a handful of random snaps and rivets)? Details, details . . .
I finally whittled the ideas down to a select few, only one of which required any stitching.
The leather that I harvested was a very dark chocolate brown and taupe. Probably great as upholstery, possibly not the best for fine leatherworking, but possibly better than duct tape for the projects I chose. I don't know anything about leather work, so if you don't either, you might want to look up some of the excellent Instructables that are out there. I didn't read them before starting out on this adventure, so all my errors are my own darn fault
I used paper bags and junk mail flyers ( the glossy fast food ones on light card stock were the best) to draw my patterns on. The glossy surface was very helpful when I applied the pattern to the leather, I used a light application of glue stick to hold the pattern pieces in place on the smooth side of the leather while cutting them out and punching the holes for hardware. The glossy paper peeled off the leather nicely ( I figured this couch leather was treated/Scotchguarded), any glue residue came off easily with a damp cloth. I've learned since that it's recommended to use an awl to trace around the pattern pieces, but the glue stick method worked for me!
Step 2: Triangle Change Purse
The pattern I went with was from Pinterest, adapted from High on Glue's post. Check out his website www.highonglue.com
What you'll need
Leather approx 9 x3", with scrap about 1.5" x .5" for tab to hold clasp
One snap, 2 rivets, lobster clasp or split ring
Kitchen Shears, or something to cut leather with
Leather punch, hammer, snap setting tool and scrap of leather at least 2"x2" ( handy to protect rivet surface when hammering), rivet setting tool, work surface that'll withstand pounding ( I used a heavy wooden cutting board that I placed on a folded piece of leather)
I cut out high on glue's pattern, punching holes where indicated, using only one snap, but added 2 rivets, ( before the second rivet, it looked like some of the change could leak out) I added a little loop to hold a lobster style clasp.
Step 3: Book Marks
There are a lot of readers in my family, so I made a fair number of these. I cut the "corner type" book marks ( the heart and arrow) from the edges of the leather that already had holes from the upholstery seams. ( see the edges of the leather in the photo above). If your leather doesn't have these pre-made holes, you'll have to make some ( another use for the awl I don't have, or could use a nail or the smallest punch on the leather punch). I reused the thread that I salvaged when I separated the seams in the upholstery leather. I also waxed some embroidery floss to sew some of them. I used binder clips along the fold to define the crease, I've learned since that you can also pound the crease with a hammer.
The oak leaf book marks were made using leaves from our yard ( just glue stick the leaf to the leather and cut around it).
Step 4: Coffee Sleeve
Ok, I only thought of this when I noticed how one of the pieces of leather had this lovely curve to it. What coffee drinker wouldn't love this? Well, I can think of one daughter who might like it. I made two versions, one riveted, one with elastic. Not sure if one'll be better than the other, we'll have to see once she opens her present
What you'll need
Cardboard coffee sleeve
Leather approx 11" x 3.25"
2 rivets or 1/4" elastic, 4 " long, needle and thread
Kitchen shears or something to cut leather with
Leather punch, hammer, rivet setting tool and scrap of leather at least 2"x2" ( handy to protect rivet surface when hammering), work surface that'll withstand pounding ( I used a heavy wooden cutting board on a folded piece of leather)
Use cardboard coffee sleeve as your pattern, adding 1/4" in length to each end to give you enough overlap.
I punched holes for the rivets/elastic 5/8" up from the bottom edge, and you guessed it, 5/8" down from the top edge
Match up the holes and insert rivets ( or insert elastic, sewing the ends together inside the sleeve)
Step 5: Ear Phone Holder
I know I gifted some of my dear ones with some sort of earphone keeper a few years ago, but these are way better!
I used the basic folded over piece of leather style, with a few design improvements
Leather 6" X 3.25 ", plus scrap 3/4" x6.5"
(if you don't want the loop to hold the split ring, 4.75"x 3.25")
Kitchen shears or something to cut leather with
Leather punch, hammer, snap setting tool, rivet setting tool and scrap of leather at least 2"x2" ( handy to protect rivet surface when hammering), small piece of wood about 3x2x1", screw driver, work surface that'll withstand pounding ( I used a heavy wooden cutting board)
Screw post fasteners-2, could use snaps instead
Cut out pieces. Punch holes where shown. Use a scrap of leather to determine what size holes work best with the snaps/ rivets you have BEFORE punching holes in your project. I used the 3rd smallest punch for most of the holes, but for the 2 holes on the opposite edge from the split ring holder I used the #4 punch ( one size bigger than for rest of project). If you plan on using snaps rather than the fastener knobs, move the holes for the snaps on all 4 corners in an additional 1/4" from the edge
Use rivets to fasten the reinforcement strip along the inside spine of the holder. My leather is a bit floppy, so I added this strip. If you look at the pattern above, line up the holes on the strip marked A, place this over the hole marked A on the larger piece of leather. (This way the A rivet goes through 4 layers of leather, the B rivet through 3 layers) the third picture is probably a lot clearer than me trying to explain it.
Put the split ring on the little tab. Use the fastener knob to close the tab. Apply the second fastener knob and you're done!
Step 6: Man Tray
I always have the hardest time trying to come up with a craft for my sons in law. This is a soft leather tray to catch all those things they empty from their pockets when they get home after a day at work. I figured wallet, keys, phone, change, even a watch could be comfortably corralled in this. The soft ( don't want to say limp) leather I was using needed a bit of reinforcement. So I added the inner lining piece.
What you'll need
Leather, 11.5 x 10.5", plus 4.5 x 9.5" for lining
For pattern, paper bag, ruler, sharpie, scissors, glue stick ( to tack pattern to leather for cutting out) or awl for tracing around pattern ( on wrong side of leather)
Snaps ( 2 sets)
Something to cut leather with, I used kitchen shears
Leather punch,snap and rivet setting tools, hammer, scrap of leather to protect rivet surface when hammering, work surface that'll withstand pounding ( I used a heavy wooden cutting board which I placed on a folded piece of leather)
Once you cut out your leather pieces, punch out the holes for hardware before removing the pattern. I riveted the lining to the inside one rivet near each corner. Next pound in those snaps. To assemble, close the snaps on each end, fold the flaps inside, it should look like a soft box( hey I can't do origami but this was within my limited abilities) there is enough wiggle room at the corner of the box to insert a phone charging cable
Step 7: Conclusions
Of course there were a few more little crafts, a phone case, tissue holders, even a sunglass case that's too lumpy to post. Over 20 gifts, not counting the numerous book marks. Could be that my dear ones never use these clever presents, but they will know that I love them (and risked my thumbs for them), isn't that what I wanted to let them know?