Follow us on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Riveted Leather Clutch with Two Wrist Straps

This is the first time I've worked with leather in this way, and I am super happy about how well it went. I bought a bag of leather scraps from Michael's craft store. You can't (aren't supposed to) open the bags to see what's in them, but the bags are clear plastic, so I could tell that there was a big piece folded up in one bag. When I opened it at home, I was thrilled to find a big enough piece to make a purse! I had wanted long pieces to make bracelets, but I couldn't pass up the chance to try making a purse. I thought about it for a few weeks, trying to decide what kind of shape I wanted and just where to cut the leather. It only cost about $7, but I think it's unlikely that I will ever find another big piece like that for $7, so I didn't want to waste it. 

After spending a while thinking about what kind of purse to make, Stefanie suggested that I make a clutch, and I loved the idea!

Here's what I needed:

Sharp scissors or a rotary cutter and cutting mat
X-Acto knife
Hole puncher
Rivet setter and anvil
Magnetic snaps

Sorry these photos are re-enactments on scraps. I made my real purse at night after the kids were in bed, working in the basement so I could hammer without waking them up. I took these photos on a different day when I could set up in sunlight.

When I was finally ready to cut into the leather, I used my rotary cutter and mat. I cut three sides straight, with right angles, and left the fourth side raw. 

Then I marked where to punch holes for the rivets. I used a marker, making small dots that would be cut out by the hole puncher. 

Then I lined up the two holes and pushed the rivet through. 

 Then placed the top on and squeezed until it clicked. 

Now it was time to hammer. I found that I could hammer right on the rivets and it worked for me. You can use an anvil, which will protect the surface of the rivets and let them keep a curved shape on top. My bag is kind of distressed looking, so I didn't mind if my rivets got beaten up by the hammer. It only added more character. 

To use the anvil and setter, find a good spot to work. Please don't do this on your kitchen table - you might dent it. If you have a workbench, that would be great. Maybe put a scrap of wood on top of a cement basement floor or out on your driveway. Then place the anvil on top of the wood, with the concave part facing up. This will cradle the rivet so that it's less likely to slip, and also less likely to be scratched or dented. Then place the rivet/leather sandwich on top. Then the setter. Hit the setter with the hammer as many times as needed. The rivet should be tight, so that it can't spin.

I added two sets of magnetic snaps inside to keep the purse closed. This part needs extra care. It's really easy to slice through the leather, so take it slowly and don't take out your aggression here (that's what hammer was for in the last step!). You can mark with a pen or pencil where the prongs of the snaps should go. 

Using an X-Acto knife, I made two small slices for the prongs. Err on the side of caution and make tiny cuts. 

I inserted the prongs into the slits. 

Then I folded down the prongs. There is some debate over folding them in or out. Both work! If you don't want to see the outline of the prongs beside the snap, fold them in. For extra stability, fold them out. Just think about what makes sense to you before you fold the prongs, and I'm sure it will be fine either way.

Here's what the snaps look like inside my bag:

Now I added two extra strips of leather to cover up the backs of the snaps (the prongs). I also wanted to add more stability to my bag, since my leather is really soft. My bag is kind of floppy, and I thought that adding more layers might reinforce it a bit. You could just add a little square on top of each snap's back, if you don't want a whole strip. I riveted again, but you could sew the leather at any point instead of riveting. You'll need a special strong needle for your sewing machine. The needle will be marked "leather" and is available at any sewing store. Just take it slowly with your machine and help it out by turning the hand crank when necessary. 

I also decided to copy a clutch that I had seen on Madewell, and a knockoff that I had bought from Forever21, and add a wrist strap on the back. While playing around with the placement, I decided to add TWO wrist straps, which I've never seen before. It seemed like a fun new twist on a simple clutch. I also decided to reverse the fabric and create some contrast. The right side of my leather is a dark green - so dark that it's not always obvious that it's green. But the wrong side is pretty bright and clearly green. I think it's fun to show some of that side, too. 

I measured the strap on my F21 bag to see how much extra length I needed to fit my wrist between the strap and the bag. 1.5" is the answer. I used a measuring tape and a pen to mark where I needed to make holes for the rivets. 

Because these rivets weren't going to be placed near the edge of the leather, I couldn't use my hole puncher. I had to carefully use my knife to make the holes in the bag.  I put a fabric cutting mat inside the bag so that I wouldn't cut through the front of my purse. Once you work with the leather a bit, you'll get the hang of how much pressure to use with your knife. For the strips, I was able to punch holes with the hole puncher - which feels safer, so use that whenever you can.

Then I riveted the straps on, and I was done!   

 It's kind of floppy, so I might trim it down a bit. I'd have to re-rivet the sides, but that's no big deal. Or I could try sewing it this time. There are so many options! I do like the long proportions that it currently has, but it might be too long to be really usable. If I cut it down, I'll let you know how it turns out.  

Have you done any leatherworking? What about at a childhood camp? Did everyone make those lanyards out of leather cording? 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Make a Flannel Blanket Scarf

Do you need a big, cozy blanket scarf this winter? Or want to give one as a gift? They are so easy and inexpensive to make! 

You only need to buy 2 yards of flannel fabric. I got mine on sale at for under $5 per yard.

What you need:
2 yards of flannel
Coordinating thread + sewing machine
Seam ripper or sturdy pin

First, trim the cut ends so they are straight across. Then use a seam ripper or a sturdy pin to pull out only the horizontal threads. This will create a fringe along the ends. 

Pull out threads until the fringe is as long as you want it to be. It would look cool with long, 3-inch fringe! Maybe I'll extend mine when I have more time, after the holidays are over. It takes a while to remove the threads, so settle in with some good music or a movie.


Now see if you want to hem the selvedges (the long, finished edges). One of mine is pretty clean, but you can see in the photo below that the other edge has lots of loose threads. I will need to hem it. I may use my serger and see how I like the way that looks. If I don't like having the serged edge as the finished edge, I'll just fold it over and stitch it down with my regular sewing machine. 

 The unfinished edges aren't stopping me from wearing it already. 

My (almost) finished scarf is 44" x 75". I bought two yards (72") but they gave me a few extra inches - sweet! If you want a really long blanket scarf, buy three yards - or whatever you'd like. The larger size of this scarf means it has more styling options than a standard scarf. You can wear it poncho-style for extra coziness, or wrap it around your neck like a regular scarf to wear it with a coat.   

What do you think? Wouldn't this be a nice gift to make for your friends this winter? 

Christmas Crackers

These Christmas crackers are an English tradition that began in Victorian times. When you pull hard on the ends, the cracker snap POPS and there is a surprise (or a few) inside. You can put in any little prize you like: candy, whistles, toys, jokes, trinkets, jewelry - whatever will fit inside the tube. 

These are fun to make and to personalize with your own wrapping paper and prizes. You can buy the cracker snaps online. I got mine from Old English Crackers. They also sell pre-made, filled crackers and pre-made, empty crackers. 

This year I made my own crackers, using purchased cracker snaps.

What you need:
*Cracker snaps
*Toilet paper tubes or paper towel tubes
*Wrapping paper (the thinner and more papery, the better. Sturdy, metallic, or thick paper probably won't tear easily enough to snap the crackers)
*Card stock
*Hot glue gun

1. Cut the wrapping paper into 7" x 12" pieces, one piece per cracker.

2. Lay out a piece of paper and glue on the snap the long way. Don't glue the middle of the snap. Place one tube on the paper, close to the edge. Glue the tube close to the edge of the paper. 

3. Now place two more tubes on either end as rolling placeholders (these two will be removed). Make a line of glue the short way, lined up with the center of the middle tube (skipping over the snap).  

Roll the three tubes tightly in the paper. The paper will wrap completely around the tubes and be glued onto the middle tube only. The other tubes are just helping to make a nicely shaped cracker.  

4. Apply glue all along the overlapping long edge and press it down. Remove the two placeholder tubes from each end.

5. Now put cardstock in each end so the crackers stay round instead of being crumpled up on the ends. Cut two pieces of cardstock for each cracker, about 2" x 7". Make sure there will be a space between the middle tube and the cardstock - that's where we will cinch the cracker and tie a ribbon around it. 

Roll up a strip of cardstock and slide it into one end of the cracker. Apply glue between the cardstock and the wrapping paper to attach them. Let the cardstock unroll inside the wrapping paper and then glue in between the overlapping layers of cardstock. Press with your fingers.

6. Gently crimp the cracker in between the cardboard tube and the cardstock. 

Tie ribbon around the cracker. 

7. Place a prize inside (or a few!). Maybe a penguin with a parachute...

Or a jingle bell.

8. Crimp the second end and tie a ribbon around it. 

You could choose a certain wrapping paper for each recipient and fill the crackers with personalized prizes. Or use pretty labels to mark them. 

Are Christmas crackers one of your traditions? Do you think you might give them a try this year?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Crocheted Infinity Scarf 2: Triple Crochet

I know we already shared a double crochet infinity scarf pattern, but this one uses a different stitch called triple crochet. I actually prefer this one because the longer stitch makes a softer fabric. These scarves are also a little more drapey than the ones made using double crochet stitch.

You will need an 8mm/size L crochet hook and 3 skeins of super bulky yarn. 

Stitches used: Chain (ch), Triple Crochet (tc)
Here's a great video to learn triple crochet.

The crocheted scarf will be 60" long before you sew the ends together. It will be about 9" wide.

Leaving a long tail, chain 130. Stop here to wrap the chain around your neck twice and make sure you like the length. Three loops will be used to "turn the corner" so you can subtract them from the length.

Row 1: Skip the first four chains and tc in the fifth chain from the hook. Tc in each chain across.

Row 2: Chain 4 to turn the corner. Tc in each chain across.

Rows 3-10: Repeat row 2.

Finishing: At the end of the last row, cut a 2-foot long tail. Pull the tail through the last loop on the hook to lock the stitches. Fold the scarf in half and use the yarn tail to sew the ends together using a slip stitch. Weave in any loose ends and the scarf is ready to wear. 

This scarf is so quickly made, you still have time to make a couple as Christmas gifts! And you definitely have time to make them for winter use. They are cute, cozy, and they don't fall off if you lean over to pick up a child or get caught up in a wild snowball fight. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Goats Milk Soap with Lavendar or Rose Petals

This is a very easy project that makes a lovely, fancy gift. You can buy goats milk soap base on Amazon or at a hobby store. Goats milk soap has great moisturizing qualities and acts as a nourishing food for your skin. 

To make your own, gather scented oils and some dried flowers. You can use any brand of oils that you want to apply to your skin. You can buy rose petals, lavender, and other flower petals on Amazon or at a craft store. 

I made two different types of soaps: lavender and rose. 

My lavender oil is from doTERRA (also available on Amazon). I used lavender from my yard.

I used cannabis rose oil from Somethin Special with dried rose petals from my yard.

Use any kind of molds you like. I love silicone cups, similar to these because they are really easy to peel off and the soaps retain their shape perfectly. I have made soap in the past using metal muffin tins and had to dig the soap out with a knife, ruining the shape. 

Your choice of soap base may have its own instructions for melting. If so, follow those! Mine just needed to be chopped up and melted in the microwave. Heat for about 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until it's all melted. 

Mix in several drops of oil (until it smells a little too strongly - some of the fragrance will fade as the soap ages) and some crumpled flower petals. Save the prettiest petals for later. 

Place soap molds or silicone cups on baking trays (so you can easily move them if you want). Pour melted, fragranced soap into molds or silicone cups. Top with pretty petals. Allow to harden. You can place the whole tray in the refrigerator or freezer to hasten the hardening process. 

These would be cute in a mason jar, tied in a short stack with twine or ribbon, or wrapped in paper or cellophane and sealed with a cute sticker.