Basic Leatherwork

Please note, this post is a work in progress.

Disclaimer: I don’t really know what I’m doing. Everything in this post is based on my experience working with leather, and the guides and materials that I found online. It is very likely that some of it is wrong, or a terrible idea to do in practice. If you spend lots of money on leather and tools, and everything goes wrong, don’t blame me!

My old phone case fell apart. It was a rather nice pouch style case, made of leather, and lined with some sort of soft fabric. Amusingly, I got it shortly before getting my phone (almost two years ago), as the case manufacturer (found on etsy, of course) had a slightly faster delivery time than OnePlus.

There were, however, a few small design issues that had always bugged me about my old case. Firstly, the lining was only glued in (aside from at the top, where it was stitched). This was the first part of the case to fail, as the glue eventually gave way. The lining came away over time, and started to deposit glue on the screen and back of my phone whenever I stashed it away. Secondly, the two leather sides were stitched together with the threads running over the edge. This meant that they slowly frayed over time - in some places (such ass the corners) rubbing through completely.

Eventually, the case was too far gone to be usable, and so I started searching around for something to replace it. As my phone is no longer purchasable (I think there are 2+ models that are newer than it now?) there are very few cases available - it’s not economical for case manufacturers to produce cases for an old, unavailable phone. The cases that were available all seemed to have similar issues to my old case. They were either clearly cheaply made (and thus full of glue), or looked likely to be constructed in the same fashion as my old one and thus likely to fail in the same ways - and I didn’t want to risk that. It was looking as though it would be very difficult to purchase a new case that met my various criteria.

So I decided to make one.

Making a new phone case

I knew absolutely nothing about leatherwork when I started. I now merely know very little about leatherwork. Knowing nothing meant that I had a fairly lengthy exploration process before I really got going with the phone case. I messed around with a couple of designs, tried out some techniques, and tested started to get too grips with the material and my (very limited) skills. I’d strongly recommend doing something similar if you, dear reader, also want to try working with leather. Producing a couple of test pieces really helped me to understand the limitations and qualities of the materials that I had, as well as understand the tools that I’d need, and how to use them.

To cut a long story short (and save you the pain of reading about all my failures), I settled on a pouch style design, saddle stitched about 3mm from the edge, with a one-piece soft fabric lining stitched into the leather. The leather I selected was some natural veg tan leather, roughly 2mm thick. (from Hedgehog Leather).

Settling on a design.

I initially set out to construct the case from 3mm veg tan leather. I wanted an incredibly study case that would effectively protect my phone, as well as last well without falling apart.

Basic leatherworking process

Unfortunately, I completely forgot to actually take any pictures while making the case. Instead here are some pictures of a follow-up project I made, a pencil case, made from some of the scraps of leather that I didn’t use.

Posted on October 6, 2018
Last modified: Oct 12, 2018
Tags: craft, practical, project, writeup, leather, making