Hand-Stitched Leather Bag

There are a small handful of Inkleaf bags out there in the world, but at this point I think it's been several years since the last one. It's not something we'd normally do these days, but this past fall I found myself designing a new bag for my nephew's birthday. Had some leather to use up, so why not? 

The vegtan is Hermann Oak and Wickett & Craig. Tiger thread for stitching, cotton webbing for the strap and handle. I'm really looking forward to seeing this age - the brown patina of the vegtan is going to look great next to the natural color of the webbing.

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Today I Made... a Gum Pouch, Part 2!

trident gum pouch

Earlier this year I made a gum pouch for Wrigley's gum. That was one of my favorite projects so far, so when we received a request for a Trident gum pouch we jumped on the chance and ended up with several variations. I originally made a simple pouch where the gum could only be retrieved after pulling the packaging out, or alternatively the gum would have to be loaded into the pouch. That was ok, but I wanted to make a better design where the package stayed in the pouch with seamless opening and closing. 

So... after finishing that second design, we found out that Trident had completely changed their packaging. Not only did they change the size of the box and gum pieces, but they went from a plain box with a flap to a fold out design. We had apparently picked up the last of the old stock before it was replaced by the new gum. That means I'll be following this post with part 3, my favorite gum pouch so far!

In the mean time, keep scrolling to see the process for this wet formed pouch.

Vegtan soaked in water, formed over the gum packaging and left to dry overnight.

Vegtan soaked in water, formed over the gum packaging and left to dry overnight.

Glueing the corners.

Glueing the corners.

Front piece glued to the back and stitch holes punched.

Front piece glued to the back and stitch holes punched.

Trimming the corners. My favorite step.

Trimming the corners. My favorite step.

Trimmed, stitched, and burnished.

Trimmed, stitched, and burnished.

The flap piece, made to fit the packaging flap. I had to set the snap first so it was a bit difficult making sure it stayed centered while glueing. There's probably a better way, but it worked.

The flap piece, made to fit the packaging flap. I had to set the snap first so it was a bit difficult making sure it stayed centered while glueing. There's probably a better way, but it worked.

More glueing.

More glueing.

And the finished pouches:

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gumpouch
One of the test versions. I decided to try the blue paint on this to see how it wears.

One of the test versions. I decided to try the blue paint on this to see how it wears.

Inside of the test pouch. I kind of like the bit of color.

Inside of the test pouch. I kind of like the bit of color.

Keep an eye out for part 3... soon!

 

For more projects, check out the posts linked below!

Today I Made... a Coin Pouch!

This week's project is a wet formed coin pouch. Wet forming leather can be a lot of fun so I've been looking around the house for things that would make for a good mold. I have a number of Altoid tins, so I used a small one to make little coin pouches. I think I'll try the larger tins at some point as well. More pictures of the finished pouches at the end of this post!

coin pouches

My parents are traveling to Japan, which was our home for over a decade. This is their first time back in 17 years, so these two pouches are for them. They'll need them to store all the coins for the ubiquitous Japanese vending machines, right? 

I took the same approach as I did with the gum pouch, by first winging a rough draft pouch and then improving upon it. Over the course of making three pouches, you can see some progression of approach:

First I tried leather cord to keep the leather in place. Eh...

Then I remembered I have these things called clamps.

The third time, I placed one piece of leather cut to the curve of the tin under the clamps, grain side to grain side for the least amount of marking.

I formed the first pouch directly over the tin only to come back a few hours later to discover small dark spots on the surface of the leather. At first I thought it was possibly mold or something similar, but after some research I found that the tannins in leather can react with iron. I used plastic wrap over the tin for the other pouches, and other than one or two spots it fixed the problem. Lemon juice, being an acid, can also help reduce these spots.

A bit more of the process:

Someday I'll get one of those fancy sets that allows you to stamp full words at once instead of one letter at a time.

Glueing to the back.

Marking out the flap.

I usually like to keep my workbench open and cleared off as I'm working, but it ends up like this during random projects.

The completed pouches. The last three images show the rough prototype pouch.

 

For more projects, check out the posts linked below!

Today I Made... a Scissor Sheath!

Last year I made a thread snipper case and meant to also make some sheaths for our scissors but never got around to it. This past week I finally tried out a couple of sheath designs. I wanted something that was minimal, but could also hold a couple of needles.

scissor sheaths

The flat sheath on the right is based on a concept I've seen here and there, to which I added a couple of needle holes. It's ok, but not as minimal as I'd like. The other design is vegtan molded to the shape of the scissors. For the final version I included a place for the needles and gave it a nice burnished edge.

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A few more images of the process:

Forming the vegtan to the scissors.

Forming the vegtan to the scissors.

Letting the glue dry.

Letting the glue dry.

Hand stitching with Tiger thread. About to trim the excess and do the edging, burnishing and conditioning.

Hand stitching with Tiger thread. About to trim the excess and do the edging, burnishing and conditioning.

And another look at the finished scissor sheath!

And another look at the finished scissor sheath!

Today I Made... a Gum Pouch!

I'm trying to get back in the habit of working on these small leather projects. It gets me out of my routine and exploring new techniques. Along the way maybe I'll hit on something that would make a good product, but mostly I just want to make things I would personally use. 

The problem is I get bogged down by wanting to figure everything out before starting a project and have it be perfect the first time. Predictably, I never get started. So I'm forcing myself to create a sort of rough draft piece that allows me to think out loud and then create a revised piece that improves upon the first. I realize when I type it out like that it sounds like an obvious process, but sometimes one needs simple reminders to get out of a mental rut! Most of the photos below show the revised version, but you can see both in a few of the last pictures.

So, the gum pouch. Joe loves his Wrigley's Doublemint gum, and has been asking me to create a pouch that could hold 4-6 sticks of gum at a time. He just had a birthday so that was the perfect time to finally make it. I've wanted to try more wet moulded projects, so I decided to go for a simple wet formed box shape stitched to a flat back piece.

gum pouch
 

Process

A few photos of the building process. Making wooden molds or something similar isn't very practical in my current space, so you'll see a lot of finagling with the wet forming. I'm sure there are better ways of doing this, but my challenge is to just make something already and not overthink it (and then do nothing). In this case I found that an eraser was mostly the right size, so I worked the vegtan leather into the right shape and clamped it down until dry.

Once dry, I punched the stitching holes and stitched it to the back piece, and trimmed the edges and corners as I went. Then the flap was cut to size and finally edges were burnished.

 

Finished Gum Pouch

That's it! Maybe later this year I'll make an update post on how it's aging. With summer coming up it should quickly tan to a nice golden brown.

Old Wallet, New Life

It's rare that we get to see one of our wallets again. We make them and ship them off. We hope they live a long life of usefulness and maybe inspire a small measure of happiness. 

After nearly 6 1/2 years of Inkleaf, this is actually the first time we've receive an item back for restitching. After three years of good hard wear, it was ready for new thread. Since this wallet was originally created, we've switched to a more durable linen thread (Lin Cable), so my hope is that it will last even longer this time. I'm also trying out the very durable Tiger polyester thread in personal projects, and it is great stuff! It's good to have options.

This is a good place to put out a reminder that we will restitch any of our products. There is no fee for the repair other than the cost of shipping, and it doesn't matter when you purchased your wallet or notebook cover. If you need some repair done, shoot us an email!

 

Before

This is the Doublecross wallet before restitching. This is actually a great example of the strength of saddle stitching. Ever pulled on a loose stitch on cheap or worn out clothing and it just unraveled down the entire line? That's a weakness of the machine lock stitch. On the other hand because of the structure of the saddle stitch, even if the thread wears out on one side the thread on the other side will remain in place and won't unravel all at once. That doesn't mean machine stitching is always bad. It can still be durable especially with good quality thread. It just depends on what the job calls for. When it comes to leather, the saddle stitch is such a great look with the benefit of added durability. 

before front wallet
before back of wallet
 

After

Here the wallet is restitched with our newer Lin Cable.

restitched wallet front
restitched wallet back

The restitched wallet next to a new wallet. The one on the left started out the same color as the leather on the right. Look at that character! It seemed to have taken on some denim indigo dye, and I imagine it's seen plenty of sun. Combine that with lots of burnishing in the jeans pocket and leather can really take on some amazing patina.

new wallet and patina leather

Even though the leather had darkened quite a bit, the pull up looked even better. That's the lighter color you see on some types of leather when pressure is applied and the oils are temporarily displaced.

pull up on leather

This wallet is back with its owner and I hope it sees many more years of good use!

New Snap Wallet!

Have a look at our newest wallet addition, the Snap Wallet. In designing our leather wallets, we've focused on unique designs that hold a practical amount of cards and cash in a minimalist package. The wallets are made to easily accommodate a minimal amount of cash, hence smaller compartments and flaps made to tuck a few bills into. 

With the snap wallet, we wanted to create something a little different. Something more cash-centric while maintaining a stylish and compact aesthetic. The main pocket is made to hold a good number of bills folded in half, so you don't have to quarter your bills into a small pocket. The bills slide in easily because we hand burnish the inside of the wallet to be very smooth. A minimalist slot stores cards separately from the cash without the added bulk of extra layers and pockets. The slot is ideal for 2-3 cards, but can accommodate a couple more when stretched. If you need to carry more cards, they can also fit in the main pocket without hindering cash use. Finally, the snap flap folds over to secure everything in place so there's no chance of anything falling out.

Glass slicker used to burnish smooth the inside surface of the leather.

As always, we hand stitch with linen thread.

One of the nice features of the card slot is that as it gets used, the upper part tucks slightly under the bottom section, giving the effect of a full pocket and making it very easy to slide in cards.