How to make a leather tassel

Leather tassels on purses can be a great accent.  They can go on the zipper, or just hang off the handle.  I also use these for my keys.  I tend to have large purses, and it is much easier to find my keys when it is attached to a bit of fringe.

This is how I make these leather tassels, though, I am certain there are many other ways.  (Yes, my cutting mat has seen better days.  I tend to do multiple crafts on it, and it gets a bit messy!)

  1. Cut out a piece of leather. You can roll the leather to figure out how thick you would like the tassel.  Some leather is thicker than others, so it will be larger when rolled.  This piece is 6″ long and 13″ wide.  I usually cut somewhere around 10″ wide.  The length, again, is personal preference.  I sometimes keep the natural edge of the hide.  I do these for two reasons.
    • One:  I don’t like to waste the leather.
    • Two: It’s an interesting edge.

This piece sat next to an oil tanned hide, which leached into this one.  The discoloration will look fine on the tassel.

2.  Next, you need to take a straight edge and a rotary cutter to cut the fringe.  I make them roughly 1/4 inch apart, and stop it at 1.5 inches from the top.  You can use a scissors, but rotary cutters work really well for this.

3.  Now that the fringe is cut, you need a little strap for the top.  This is around 1″ x 4″.  I just rough cut the length to make sure it is long enough to go into the fringe.

4.  Using a glue (here are two options), spread the glue across the entire top piece.  I used a bit too much on this one.  You could also use something like a school glue, too, if you don’t have access to these.

5.  Place the top strap at the inside edge, and tightly wrap the fringe.  Make sure the top is even as you wrap it.  The glue leaked out a bit on this, since I went a bit too aggressive with it.

6.  Next, I put a contrast leather around the top piece.  Cut to size.  I suggest cutting a little wider than you think you will need.  This should have been a smidge wider.  I added some “bling” to dress this up.  You can also add decorative rivets.

7.  Sew the contrast piece to the top.  Generally, I want to have to stretch it to fit, so it fits tightly.

8.  Add a split ring and snap to finish it off.   Usually the snap piece needs to be wide enough to fit over a purse’s hardware.  I also had purchased some odds and ends on clearance at Michaels, and this stone worked perfectly!

Now you have a lovely fringe for your purse or keys!

 

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Market Shopper in leather

As part of the Admin team for Sewing Pattern Testers, I sewed up the free bag designed by Angie Hebert.  She wanted one in leather, and having much leather, I complied!

I also needed to finish sewing up some small pieces of fabric I was sent by RP Custom Fabrics.  These are a small size of Piedra, so small she decided not to offer this size.  I still wanted to make something from them, so much to my delight, I had a matching embossed, metallic pigskin leather.

These are KNIT, so I had to back it in a non-stretch, woven iron-on interfacing.

There is a sew-a-long on the Sewing Pattern Testers blog that I would recommend prior to starting in on the pattern.

I made some modifications to the bag, as sewing leather is always different than sewing fabric.  I didn’t cut the front in two pieces, since there would be a strip covering the seam.  Generally pigskin hides are large enough to get this size of pieces out of them.  I also like to keep seams in leather to a minimum.

I apparently didn’t get the strip down the middle the same on each side.  There is always something!

I added an applique to one side.  I draw them out on Heat n’ Bond, cut out mirrored images and then apply to the bag.  I had to make sure the images didn’t interfere with the strap handles, so I marked the placement on the front and back with an awl.

This leather isn’t very thick, or durable, so I added some iron on vinyl to the bottom of the bag.

I didn’t have enough foam, or time to go to the store, so I added some extra layers of fusible fleece.  This makes it more floppy than foam, but I am fine with that.  It still has a nice structure to it.  I always use a hard interfacing to the bottom of bags, though.  That is a place I don’t want it to be floppy.

I added twill tape in between the folded leather for the straps.  This gives it more structure and it means the leather is less apt to stretch out.  I glued it on and glued the folded pieces together, then pounded it all flat with a hammer.

The zipper tab.  This was a separating zipper, and I used what I had on hand.  A good durable zipper is what you need for a purse.

The inside is a mixture of two different quilting cottons.  They look very pretty together.

As for the hardware…I was hoping to get away with not going to the store, but I didn’t have much gold hardware.  A ton of silver, though!  I made a trip to Tandy Leather to pick up the conchos on the purse handle tabs.  Seriously, the hardware is as much as the rest of the purse.  BUT, it makes them look more high end, and less homemade.

I love how it all turned out!

I put a tutorial up on the Sewing Pattern Testers blog for the leather tassel.  Go check it out!

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Blue on Black

Purse #2 is DONE!

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Procrastination is a life skill that I am well acquainted with, so of course, I waited until the last minute to get this done.  I wanted to make sure it turned out nice, though, and I think I succeeded.

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The leathers are both lambskin.  The royal blue is an embossed leather, so it has a design pressed into it.  The black is super soft.  So soft that I had to make sure I put some more industrious interfacing in the purse, so it didn’t collapse.  I added a foam interior so it would have some bulk to it.  The handle has webbing inside it, so it won’t stretch out.

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I tried to pretty it up with some hardware choices on the rivets and gunmetal rings and snaps.

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The interior is just a bottom-weight royal blue fabric.  I didn’t have anything fancy in my fabric stash.  The pocket is a sample I printed of one of my fabric designs, though.

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A thoroughly one of a kind purse!  Hope it sells for a good price.

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Go Pack, Go!

Here is the first bag for the benefit auction in a few weeks.  This is my bag pattern that I have been using to make most of my purses.  I should maybe make a tutorial or something on it, huh?

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This one is made of the following:

  • Green pigskin leather
  • Gold lambskin leather
  • Green Bay Packers licensed woven
  • 2 zippers
  • Fusible Fleece to lining, iron on interfacing for pockets, and Peltex on base
  • Gold hardware – ring, swivel snaps, rivets and feet

I purchased the leather and interfacings locally, but I think I got most of the hardware from Pacific Trimmings.

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I also made a tassel that I attached to the zipper, but it is just clipped on so whomever wins the auction can use it elsewhere.

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Now onto the next bag!

A new black purse

My old black pleather purse has seen better days.  As it is pleather, the handle piece tore off, and I had to resew it on.  It looks like crap, since the pleather now has a hole in it.  It was time for a new real leather purse.

This is black Mirabella cowhide with a black lambskin suede.

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I have two other purses to make after this one, but I wanted to see if I could do a different interior and the zipper closure.

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It all worked out!

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The only issue I have with this is the floppiness.  It really does need more than just the fusible fleece on the lining.  I will put in the foam next time, so it will stand up.

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This the side pocket, which fits a phone and sunglasses…or keys.  Whatever floats your boat!

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I added a piece of suede to the middle of the handle, so it wouldn’t slip off my shoulder with the finished leather.

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There are two inside pockets.  One is a zippered pocket and one is open.  I like both.  I put a pen pocket in the open one.

In order to keep the bulk down on the side seams, I split the piece underneath so it is the thinner lining.  I also added a piece of ribbon underneath the suede piece holding the round hardware.  It will keep the suede from stretching out.

So, there is my new purse.  I am going to make two purses for the benefit auction for Deb.  One will be a Green Bay Packers purse and one will be something like this one.  I was hoping we would get a celebratory purse for the Super Bowl, but as I am currently watching the Falcon’s kick their butts…it likely won’t be.

Another gift

I was hoping to get this gift made over my holiday break from work, but I just did a lot of reading and resting.  I needed that, but now I am stressing on getting projects done that I have volunteered to do.

This is what I need to finish up this week:

  • Sample sewing some fabric, plus nice pictures with it.
  • Test a men’s t-shirt pattern.  I have two to make for the boy, with some HTV cut out for them.  Nice pictures of them are needed, too.
  • Start sewing the bags for a charity auction – I’m hoping to donate two.  I would like to do a bead strip in one, so that means I need to do some loom beading for it.  That takes awhile to do.

In the meantime, I was able to get one thing off the list, which is this birthday present for my sister.  Her birthday is Thursday this week, but I know she doesn’t look at my blog.  I am going to get this in the mail, so she gets it by then.

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This is made from an oiled cowhide and the blue is a lambskin.  I am hoping the oiled cowhide doesn’t discolor the blue too much.

I tried to make this smaller than my regular bag size, but I should have gone smaller still.  It is still a good sized bag.

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The inside is brown and gold, with a zippered pocket.

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It has a snap closure, where I put a concho on the backside of the snap.  There is a conversion kit that Tandy sells.  It is basically a small screw that takes the place of the back of the concho, which fits in the middle of the snap.

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The interior has 3 different types of interfacing (foam, peltex and regular interfacing), and it also has gold metal bag feet on the bottom.  This took me around 6 hours to make.  I had to do some hand-stitching around the top, since it was too thick for my sewing machine at the corners.

Making leather bags can be a bit frustrating, with the bulk and skipping stitches.  Now, I only have two more bags I need to get done, PLUS I need a new black bag for myself.  My old black bag was made from faux leather and it ripped at the handle.  It’s been like that for months, but I haven’t sat down to make a new one.  There’s always something else that needs to get made, so I want to make sure I get that made in next month.  Or so.

No rest for the weary!

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Leather gifts

We are at a point in our familial gift giving, that many just want to exchange for the kids and not do anything else.  We are getting some gifting back, but for the most part the adults are not interested.  I miss it.

I do have a cousin in California that always sends something nice and thoughtful to us.  This year I finally had time to be thoughtful, too.  I made a little clutch for her that could go over her saddle horn, if she wanted a place to store her keys and phone while riding.  I made her hubs a wallet, which was a first for me.  I would make some changes.  It is narrower than I would like and the inside card pocket needed some more room on it, too.  Next one.

These are a mixture of an oiled cowhide and lambskin leathers.  The cowhide is VERY oiled.  The other leathers were starting to darken up from the oil in the main leather.  Oh well.  It still looked nice. 🙂

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I put together a tutorial on how to do a reverse applique on leather.  This is the process I use for each one that I make.

Leather reverse applique tutorial

First, I cut out a piece of Heat n’ Bond that will be a little larger than my design.  Next, I draw my design on half of it.  Options for designs if drawing is not a skill you possess – trace out an image from an image search of tattoo designs, clip art, coloring book pages, etc.  It just can’t be too intricate, since you have to anchor it with stitching.  It is hard to do that if they have a lot of small pieces.

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Cut out the design.  You can also do this when it is on the leather, but I like to do it beforehand, so I can cut the leather cleaner.  Your choice. 🙂

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Now, find the mid-point on the leather for applying the applique.

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Now, iron it onto the leather.  Make sure that it is placed evenly on each side before ironing it.  Ask me how I know to do this??  Use a press cloth, or else your iron will stick, and possibly sear, the leather.

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Now time to cut it out!  I use a combination of exacto knife, small scissors, big scissors and rotary cutter.  I try to get the big, longer cuts first and then do the smaller intricate ones last.

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Peel off the backing, and cut out another piece of leather that will cover the hole.  Iron this on, using the press cloth.

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To secure it, sew it on the sewing machine.  To sew this, I have a leather needle and use a long stitch.  I have to walk it around some of the areas, so you really have to go slow to make sure it looks nice in the end.

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Don’t cut the threads, but pull to the back and tie off.

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I have a full tutorial on this No Hardware Clutch here.

Sewing with Leather – Some Tips

This is a blog post I did for the Sewing Pattern Testers blog.  It was edited a bit and she is new at blogging, so didn’t get how to put the html into the post.  I am sure she will get better in time.  So…here is the complete post with pictures and links!

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Hello all!  My name is Stacy, and I blog over at Stylin’ Stacy.  I have been sewing for over 30 years, and am over-run with projects constantly!

I am by no means an expert on sewing with leather, but I do have a few years’ worth of experience under my belt.  Here is a compilation of sewing tips and things to look for when sewing with leather.

#1 – Leather Selection

Different animals produce different kinds of leather products.  Tandy Leather has a detailed explanation of weights and terminology.

Here are some basics that I have learned.

Lambskin – This is the softest and thinnest leather that you will find in commercial outlets.  It is a common leather product and is generally dyed different colors and may have some embossing (a pattern stamped into the leather).  The hides are generally small, so don’t expect to get a lot out of one hide.  Lambskin is popular for making apparel due to its soft and pliable nature.   It is also easier to sew with it due to the thickness.

Pigskin – Soft, relatively thin, and a little larger hide than a lambskin.  You can feasibly get a purse out of hide.  This also gets dyed many different colors and gets embossed.

That green wants to be a Green Bay Packers purse…I can tell. 😉

Deerskin – Very soft and large hide.  These tend to be pretty spendy due to the hide size, durability and softness.  These are generally found in more natural colors and black.

Cowhide – This is the thickest you will find.  It also comes in varying thicknesses, from ones you can sew on the machine to ones too thick to sew on a standard machine.  It is the most durable, but also hardest to sew.  Some of the more processed hides can be made fairly soft, but the thickness will make it harder to sew.

#2 – Sewing Machine use

By and large if you are sewing with the thinner leathers (Lambskin, Pigskin and some Deer hides) you won’t have a problem with your home machine.  If your machine has a hard time sewing denim, then you may want to look for a more durable machine.

I purchased a Singer 401A vintage machine for the heavier projects, since after sewing a thick cowhide purse I needed to repair the timing on my machine.

A few things to make sewing with leather easier is a Teflon foot and a Leather Needle.  I have heard good things about having a walking foot, as well.   I don’t have one, so can’t give out personal experience on that.

Suede will glide easier under the pressure foot, but the stickier leathers will have a hard time consistently going under.   If you don’t want to buy a teflon or walking foot, or are still having issues, add a layer of tissue paper over the leather.  This will help it glide over, and just carefully tear it off the seam afterwards.

You may also need to decrease the presser foot pressure.  See your manual for how to do that.

I use normal weight thread when sewing with leather.  If you have a spot that will have a lot of stress, I would recommend sewing with upholstery thread.  It is thicker, and may require some tension adjustment, but it is really hard to break.

Keep the stitching length long, to lessen the holes in the leather and likelihood of tearing.  On my Janome I use a stitch length of 3-4.

#3 – Sewing with leather

Some random tips…

– You can iron leather, but turn off the steam.  The water releasing onto the leather can stain it.  I also use a press cloth to make sure my iron doesn’t stick to the leather.

– Use a hammer or mallet to pound down seams.  Some seams get pretty bulky, so use your hammer to get them flatter and easier to go under the presser foot.

– Don’t use pins.  Instead of pins, use Clover Clips or paper clips to hold in place.  The pins will puncture holes in the leather.

– Glue is your friend.  Not being able to use pins can put you in a bind in some places.  I use a glue stick to hold it in place for stitching, or I also use Wondertape.

– Leather will stretch.  This is something to keep in mind for bag handles.  You can use interfacing (including iron-on interfacing) to keep them from stretching out too much.  I have also sewn twill tape or ribbon in between layers to keep things in place.

– You can wash leather, but some take to it better than others.  I would suggest using a color catcher in the wash the first few times to make sure the dye doesn’t bleed onto other garments.  The leather will lose some of its softness.  If you make a leather jacket, skirt or bag, I would suggest dry cleaning those.  If it is just an accent on clothes, like a collar or elbow patches, I throw it in the wash on cold and hang to dry.

– The lighter leather colors are predisposed to staining, so you might want to seal it.  Don’t wear a new pair of blue jeans with your natural colored leather purse.  Ask me how I know?

– Unless you are interested in tooling leather, stay away for the vegetable tanned leather hides.  These are usually heavier weight to account for the tooling/stamping that happens with these unfinished hides.  They are fairly hard, too, and not good for garments.  They can work for purses, but will likely require hand-stitching.  Tooling leather is a whole other animal from sewing bags and garments.

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– If you are using rivets or studs for the leather, be aware that they come in different thicknesses.  You want a shorter shaft on anything you will be putting on thinner leathers.  Otherwise, when you go to pound it down, there will be too much room and it will go offset.

rivets

– Sometimes you will just have to hand-sew the leather if it is too thick.  Sewing machines for specifically sewing leather are very expensive, so unless you plan on doing it often, have some extra room and a spare $1K+ you may have to bust out the leather sewing needle and thimble (you will need a thimble, trust me).  If you do go this route, I recommend getting this, this and this.

hand sewn laptop bag

That is all I can think of to tell you right now, but feel free to ask questions!  I will try to answer if I can.

More loom knitted cowls

Another cold snap – another reason to make these cowls!  I love how they turn out, so the many hours that go into knitting them is definitely worth it.

Here is my tutorial on how to make these scarves:

Loom knitted, leather and snaps infinity scarf tutorial

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I think I should have made them a little longer, but I ran out of the variegated blue/brown/gold yarn.  The grey and white one I did have more, so I should have knitted it longer.  Oh well.  They still fit and work well!

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I did have some issues setting the snaps.  It was very thick and I also had many odds and ends of mismatched sets.  The snaps don’t go together very well, and are pretty hard to snap.  Luckily, you really only need to snap the middle two snaps, so they are decorative for the most part.  I will need to get some new snaps ordered, so I have some matching sets.

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My daughter is also working on knitting one of these.  It is taking her a bit of time, but as soon as she is done I will get it finished up for her.  It is very soft and fuzzy, so should work well for winter.  I have a feeling she may give up soon, so I may be doing the finishing on it.  Would not be the first time for such to happen. 😉

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Surprise, surprise…I bought more yarn. 😉  A deep red.  Another one will happen soonish.