Monday, July 9, 2012

Longstitch Leather Journal

This month's Whimseybox contained an 8.5x11" scrap of suede leather, a packet of metal studs, and a link to download instructions for a studded leather wallet. Sadly (to me, anyway), Whimseybox is moving away from a box of random, fun, open-ended craft supplies and towards a project-in-a-box, based on feedback they've received. But they are still encouraging people to use the materials for whatever they want, too. (Not like they could stop anyone--but they are encouraging people to share what they make with the box supplies, regardless of whether they make the intended project.) I have no idea what I might do with a packet of metal studs (anyone want 'em?), but I decided the scrap of suede meant I could try out this longstitch bookbinding tutorial at Tortagialla: The Blog.

And here is the finished result.

It kinda makes me want to squeal with glee, to be honest. After I finished it (and it was a two-day process; more on that in a minute), I came upstairs and was all, LOOK WHAT I MADE!! Even to the kids, who were suitably impressed--as I am with their creations, so it's only fair.

Anyway, you may know this about me by now, but one of my favorite parts of a project is figuring out solutions to design problems. If you clicked over to Linda's tutorial (and you should, really), you'll see that hers has a flap from back to front to hold the book together. This piece of suede was soft and floppy, so it needed some sort of closure, but there wasn't enough for a whole flap like that. Since it started out the size of a sheet of letter paper, I decided to cut paper in half and fold those half-sheets in half to make the signatures. This meant I could trim a two-inch strip of suede, and I used about six inches of that for the closure strap.

Once I had that strip, though, and I tried to put a needle through it, I realized that wasn't going to work. There's a reason that shoemaker in the fairy tale is always banging away. I looked at the bookbinding supplies on my art table and realized I had the answer right in front of me--my bookbinding awl. I lined the strip up on the back of the larger piece and banged through both pieces at once to make sewing holes. Then I sewed them together.

That all took a bit of time, and was noisy, too. Once that was done, I could glue a piece of cardstock to the suede piece, as Linda suggests, to give it a bit more sturdiness. Then I had to let it dry overnight which was really, really hard. That was Saturday night. Sunday we went to the beach and part of me just couldn't wait to get home and finish up the book; that had to wait until after dinner, though.

Following the tutorial, I sewed in the signatures. I did three, and I could probably add a fourth (nothing's stopping me...I can add to the book at any time; isn't that kind of cool?). This is what the binding looks like.

I used the linen bookbinding thread I had in my my box of bookbinding supplies. It's a little thin against the suede but hey, not bad for experimenting. This is what the inside looks like.

I used some sketch paper from an inexpensive sketch pad that was on the paper shelf. It's heavier than printer paper and a little rougher. I wonder what I'll use this book for?

Back to the first picture so I can tell you about the closure...

I'd originally planned to use a button. I tested this by cutting a slit in a scrap piece of suede and making sure I could get a button through it. But once the button was sewn on--accomplished by banging two more holes through the suede and its cardstock backing--I couldn't maneuver the button through the slit. There wasn't enough wiggle room. So I rummaged through my button jar for a toggle. That's why the slit is a little bigger than it needs to be, and not as neat as it could be--I'd already cut it to fit the button. But for an on-the-fly solution to finagling a closure given the materials at hand, I'm pretty pleased. And I used almost every bit of the leather that I received.

Ha! Look what I made! We have a shoe repair shop in town....I'm wondering if they ever have scraps of leather they're looking to get rid of??


Donna Lee said...

There is a shoe repair place near here and they have scraps of leather hanging all over. It's a wonder that they stay in business since I think more people buy cheaper shoes and throw them away instead of having them repaired. I had them fix a pair of my Dansko shoes when they needed a new seam.

I love the book! The suede's texture looks so inviting, I want to touch it.

Jill said...

I am very impressed! Yay you! It's gorgeous. I second Donna Lee's comment; patronize your shoe repair shop as much as you can to prevent it going out of business like so many others. My old one did indeed have scraps, they might ask you to pay a bit, or sell them by the pound. It's worth asking.

Michelle said...

It's amazing! See you have to come down here. We have a leather shop. And I have all of my dad's leatherworking tools. You could have a whole bookmaking retreat here!

Karen Isaacson said...


Art by Wiley said...

Oh wow, this is amazing!