Second hand sewn leather project: Travel Ipad Case

Dear readers,

A few month ago, I finally indulged in beautiful box of Japanese leather tools and sewn a phone case for The Old Man to try it out. Pretty soon afterwards, I worked on the project I’m showing you today. As with any new craft, the learning curve is quite steep in the beginning. It reminds me a lot of learning how to sew:

  • You are not sure how to handle your tools
  • You make wrong choices when it comes to material/fabric but
  • You love the results despite all the very visible imperfections.

Handstitched Leather Ipad Case-2
One thing about leather work that I definitely appreciate is that it is relatively short compared to sewing. Of course, my inexperience makes me totally biased. I only tackle simple projects and I’m probably not putting in the level of efforts that professional finish would require. Sewing taught me that you don’t have to be patient from the beginning, it’s an acquired skill that develops once I get tired of making the same mistakes over and over. Only then I’ll take the time to do things properly and wonder why I waited so long. Oh well…

Handstitched Leather Ipad Case-1If you read my blog regularly, by now you have realized that I am more a copycat than a designer. My design “research” (haha), usually starts by endless Pinterest perusing, and for leather items, I find Etsy very useful too. For this project, I wanted to make something for The Old Man (again!! How unselfish of me…) in the same leather as his phone case. We travel regularly and we try so simplify packing. We both carry 2 passeports each and various electronics so I wanted to make a case that could hold an Ipad, travel documents, a pen and a few cards.

Handstitched Leather Ipad Case-3 Handstitched Leather Ipad Case-4The positive point is that I’m happy with the design, I think it’s functional, nice looking and not too girly. On the negative side, the list a bit longer… First of all is the leather. It’s definitely too soft for a structured case. When full and closed it’s ok because the Ipad provides the structure, but the document side lacks firmness. I tried to remedy temporarily by inserting a piece of cardboard. Unfortunately the only solution will be to make is in a more appropriate leather (more on that later!).

Handstitched Leather Ipad Case-5 Handstitched Leather Ipad Case-6My second issue is with my hand stitching. Applying constant thread tension while saddle stitching is definitely a challenge. One that can only be remedied by hours and hours of practice I guess. The last problem is something that was just reported by the user. Apparently, the leather stretched out on the document side and things tend to fall out…

Handstitched Leather Ipad Case-7 Handstitched Leather Ipad Case-3Of course, it’s a little disappointing to admit that this is not the perfect case that I had in mind, but I decided to treat it as a learning experience. When I was in New York recently I bought a BEAUTIFUL vegetable tanned hide, some more tools/finishing products as well as a Japanese book of bag patterns.

After leaving Canada, I am doing a quick stop over in Guatemala but I can’t wait to be back in Haiti to start scheming my next leather project!! Last time I posted about leather, one of my lovely readers recommended the blog of Gillian, Sew Unravelled, as she and her husband make beautiful leather items! I highly recommend taking a look at it, as well as at the blog of my NY friend E., The Pattern Line, where she just posted a leather corset belt she made for class at FIT. Do you have any other leather blogger recommendations to share?

 

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First hand sewn leather item!!

Dear readers,

It’s already in April and I am completely ignoring my only commitment for this year : to post twice more than in 2014 – 46 times. As a wannabe M&E expert, I have tell you we are NOT on track to meet the target!

I have been sewing, but since it’s 5 black or white t-shirts and a knit wrap dress, my excitement to take pictures and write about them is pretty low. On the other hand, I got something in the mail last thursday and it’s A LOT more exciting!!

craft-sha-leathercraft-leather-hand-sewing-set-light-15-tools-book-kit-[2]-242-p

It’s CraftSha Leather Light Hand Sewing Set and it’s pretty amazing, because 1/ I ordered it from Japan (GoodsJapan, in case you are interested) and 2/ it came in the mail. IN THE MAIL! You may know that there is no mail in Haiti… I’m not entirely sure how it all happened but I don’t care, it is soooo nice!! I also bought a very fancy knife, specially made for left-handed people, which makes me feel like a leather samurai!!

Leather case-3

Of course I had to start right away and The Old Man very conveniently lost the previous leather phone case I had made him, and the one before that was eaten/destroyed/buried in the garden by our dog (yes, adorable but evil). As the third iteration of the same pattern I made for his phone (Samsung Galaxy S4, I think), it is a lot more special because it’s hand sewn (the others were ruthlessly thrown under the machine) with Japanese tools.

Leather case-1

The set comes with a little booklet (in Japanese) for a basic project. I am very partial when it comes to all things Japanese  and this is no exception. The pictures are very clear so you can follow along without understanding a single sign. I always wonder how much I would learn if I could read Japanese instructions. Their diagrams are so informative already, I cannot help but think what is written must be mind blowing (like, this adjustable uniform shared by Very Purple Person).

Leather case-5

All the tools were a nice to use, but for such a small project you have a lot of steps. Cutting, filing, applying the thingie on the edges, glueing, punching holes, stitching (with 2 needles at a time), more edge thingie, etc. In addition, there is a learning curve. As you can see my stitching leaves a lot to be desired. What I learnt so far:

  1. Pay a lot of attention when punching the holes, 1mm difference is HUGE in the final look
  2. Hand sewing requires regular tension and not too much of it, the stitches tend look better a little looser.

Leather case-2The leather is a from a skin The Old Man bought years ago in Colombia. It’s softer than the vegetable tanned leather used in the booklet and dyed (but only the upper layer) so that also made a difference on how it reacted to the tools.

Leather case-4

It’s not my first time working with leather, I’ve made handbags, wallets and garments by machine, using a teflon foot and a special needle. Lately, I started to find the results disappointing since I don’t own a machine that would handle the thickness well. My industrial hates it, the feed dogs leave marks on the skin and it skips stitches. The home machine does a slightly better job but topstitching is very unpredictable. So hand sewing seems to be a good solution for small projects.

That’s it, the case is not perfect but I’m reasonably happy with it as a first project. I can’t wait to experiment more, maybe with a clutch for myself. Have you tried hand sewing leather or do you avoid it completely? Share your tips!!