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
Rivet setter and anvil
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.
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.
Here's what the snaps look like inside my bag:
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?