Time requiredComplexityTools &Supplies

3 hours

Moderate

Common for Leathercraft

A few weeks ago I toyed with the idea of using leaves in my designs after seeing this beautiful leather tobacco pouch on etsy.

From those thoughts came out a few prototypes. The tobacco pouch, lighter holder and cigarette are based on an identical leaf of tobacco. An Aloe Vera leaf incense holder completes those experiments.

The initial cigarette case prototype was wet-molded. I adapted the design to make it easier to replicate, as well as because I am working at the moment with a second grade leather that is not ideal for wet-molding.


Requirements


Skills

Tools

  • X-acto knife
  • Edge beveler
  • Edge burnisher
  • Stitching chisel(s)
  • Leathercraft compass
  • Applicator for dye (piece of rag, cotton swab…)
  • 2 Leather stitching needles

Bill of Materials

  • 3/4 oz vegetable tanned leather
  • Thread
  • 1 Magnetic snap-button
  • Green leather dye
  • Hazelnut leather dye
  • Oil
  • Leather finish

Pattern

The free pattern can be downloaded here.

Walk-through


Printing and cutting the pattern

The PDF for the pattern can be found here.

Print it on A4 paper and cut-out the back and the front of the case.

Make sure that the pattern is not resized by checking your print settings. You can check if it was printed properly by measuring the test box on the pattern to ensure that its sides are 5cm long.

Print on thick paper to make it easier to trace the shape on the leather. 200g/cm2 and above is ideal (as long as your printer can handle it)


Trace the pattern and engrave the leaf

Using an awl or any suiting tool at your disposal, trace the outlines of the two pattern components onto the leather.

Marking the beginning and end of the stitching lines will prove useful later on as well in order to precisely align the stitching holes.

Finally engrave the leaf. To do this, first dampen the area leather where the leaf located will be with a bit of water. Position your pattern carefully, securing it with a bit of tape if need be. Then trace over the motives of the leaf over the paper, applying a fair amount of pressure to leave a clear mark on the leather. You can then remove the paper, dampen the leather again and make a second pass to accentuate some details.

This is when you can add other motives by stamping or tooling them in if you wish to.


Dye the leather

Use a diluted version of your dyes to insure homogeneity. In this example a 1:1 dilution between dye and water is used.

Apply several coats of dye until you obtain the desired result.

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I used a Q-tip to dye the junction between the leaf and the main body to be more precise and avoid overlapping the two colors.

When the dye is completely dry, apply a coat of oil on the leather.

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Try to be swift in your motions once the oil is on the leather to avoid creating darker spots. If this happens not to worry though, just leave it half an hour under the sun (rough side up so that the top grain doesn’t tan). The heat will help the oil spread out evenly in the fibers of the leather.


Cut-out the elements of the box

Follow the outline of the pattern that you traced earlier to cut-out the back-side and main body of the box.


Prepare stitch lines

First, use your compass to define the stitching lines on the pieces. This is where the marks indicating where the stitching lines should start and end will be useful. Still, double check the alignment of the corresponding stitching lines between the two pieces.

When your lines are defined, use your stitching chisels to mark the position of the stitching holes. Don’t punch them through yet, we’re only making sure that everything is aligned and preparing the actual perforation in a few steps.


Bevel edges

Leather spaghetti time!

Bevel the edges all around the pieces.

I also chose to bevel the rough side of the leaf. It’s up to you really.


Perforate stitching holes

This time, actually perforate the holes that you marked earlier.

I waited until then because my chisels are a bit thick for this kind of leather and can create little bumps on the edge if the stitching line is very close to it. This can be corrected with a bit of sandpaper, however it would make edge beveling quite imprecise if I was to make the holes beforehand.


Burnish edges

Start with some sandpaper to make the edges round and even.

Then use the method of your choice to burnish them all around. I’m using Tokonole and a wooden edge burnisher here but water and a cotton rag works quite well too.

I also applied Tokonole to the rough side and frictionned it with the burnisher to stick the fibers in place and give it a cleaner texture.


Stitch the box

To stitch the box, we’ll have to use a technique called…you guessed it: box stitching (Leathercraft technical vocabulary is pretty down to earth and straight to the point).

Start by sewing the two edges that will shape the bottom of the box on the main body.

When this is done, sew the three edges at the back of the main body to the three edges of the back of the box.


Install magnetic snap-button

I’ll be honest, this part of the design is flawed.

You see usually to install a magnetic snap in a situation like this and hide the back of the snap, you would sew a second piece of leather such as this one.

However I wanted to avoid having any stitching on to the leaf so I chose to sand down the legs of the top snap element and superglue it directly onto the leather. It’s messy and not durable so any suggestion for an alternative is welcome!


Define edges

Apply water to the edges and press on them to shape them.

Let the leather dry completely.


Leather finishing

Apply the finishing product of your choice on the item.


Final result

There you go! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please don’t hesitate to write or comment if you have any feedback.

Footnotes


The following online content provided some assistance and/or inspiration during the making of this project:

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