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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

DIY Leather Bound Book/Journal

Hi guys,
Today I have a sewing post for you if you couldn't guess from the title :P
I bought some leather offcuts when I was in New York last year from Global Leathers. I was planning on making a leather version of the Sewaholic's Cordova Jacket but I didn't yet have a copy of the pattern and I probably would have mucked up the amount of leather to buy. So instead I just bought some little offcuts to practice sewing on leather before I move onto a full scale project, worth a lot of money. Now onto the post!

Leather + Book to be covered

This is actually a project for my boyfriend, this is his book. Apart from buying leather in New york I also bought some awesome shirting cotton and made him a dress shirt, my first one! Was a big learning curve! For this book I got him to choose the colours of leather he liked and he chose black and a burgundy brown. I started out by cutting the pieces to later sew them back together at a different angle to make them fit the book. Because we're working with leather, pins can't be used so I got some bobby pins from the bathroom and it worked perfectly!
Leather held together with bobby pins
I used a leather needle in my machine and a leather/vinyl foot I bought in a pack from spotlight and it worked really well. I used a longer stitch length because of the thickness of the layers and then really slowly I sewed the pieces together. 

Sewing through 2 layers
 Once the pieces were sewn right sides together I flipped them over pressed the seam allowances out with my fingers and the placed it under a really heavy dictionary to flatten the seams.

Pressing seam allowances with a dictionary
Once the seams were pressed, I top stitched the  seam allowances down and created a nice detail on either side of the seam. It looks so good at the end! I lengthened my stitch to 3mm for the top stitching. The black strip will be the spine of the book.

Top stitching and sewing down seam allowances
After top stitching I sleaned up the edges a bit with the rotary cutter to make sure they were nice and even. I used the rotary cutter for all the leather cutting, it's much cleaner and nicer.

Use a rotary cutter to trim leather
 Once each cover was sewn I sewed them together. This was difficult as the seams intersected and my machine was not so happy with it. In some places it was sewing through 6 layers or something ridiculous but it managed it. Slow and easy does it. 

Both sides sewn together
To flatten the seams a bit more force was required so I ended up getting my pestle out and using that.

Using pestle to flatten seams
After the seams were flat i then top stitched again. Using the leather needle and foot really made this project so much easier as it was able to go through the leather like butter.After the top stitching was done I laid the book down on the leather and traced to see where i had to cut the corners to wrap the leather around the cover, like putting contact on school books.

Tracing book onto the leather
After I cut the corners off with a rotary cutter I folded the edges over and hand stitched the corners together. I put holes in the corners using the machine and then went back through with a hand needle.

Corners cut to fold over edge
Holes to use hand needle with
Once the corners were folded and sewn, the cover was placed on the book and sat under the dictionary overnight to help stretch the leather and make it very snug. Here's a shot of the finished product. The boyfriend loves it so that makes it worth it for me, I think it looks pretty good though.

End Product!
 Take home messages from this project for me were:
- Double check before you cut or sew, there's no going back with leather
- Finishing the seams with top stitching gives a professional look
- Use longer stitches
- Sew slowly, use the hand wheel if you need to make sure the leather is feeding through
- Leather can stretch, this can be an advantage and disadvantage
- Cut using a rotary cutter if you have one, scissors don't work so well

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