Saturday, April 25, 2015

Making a Leather Journal

A good friend of mine has a neat leather journal.  I tried to buy one like it, but couldn't find one I liked or they were just too expensive.  I figured I could make one if I put my mind to it so I decided to see what it would take.

The first thing I'd need was a good piece of leather.  I quickly found out there are a lot of variations.  There are differences in tanning, thickness, stiffness, color, etc.  From what I could tell I'd need a piece that was 4-6 ounces in weight (that's really thickness), semi-soft or soft, and oil-tanned.  The color was just preference.  I found that The Leather Guy sold what I needed at a good price.  I bought a piece that made two large journals and one small one for around $30.00 (

I knew that I'd want my journal to be refillable.  That way, when I was done, I could continue to use the same journal without having to make a new one.  The best technique I found for that was on YouTube here -  I adapted his technique to what I wanted.  I did not want an elastic tie around my journal.  I just used the elastic for the spine to hold the paper in.

Next was cutting the leather to size.  Mandi showed me how to use her fabric cutting setup.  I cut the leather to make sure I had a 3/8" lip on each side.  Once I had that done I cut out the piece.  I left enough leather on to make my the flap to close up the journal (see last pictures).

Once I had the leather cut out I punched holes just like the gentleman did in the youtube video.  For mine I ended up with a center hole top and bottom and a hole 1/4" to the right of that hole top and bottom.  Even though you can see a third hole is marked I did not punch the hole to the left of the center hole.  I also did not punch a hole in the very middle of the fabric as the video did because I'm not making an elastic tie.

Once the holes were punched I ran my elastic.  I started from the outside in so only a little bit of the elastic shows from the outside.  I tied off the two strands on the inside.  You do want some tension on the elastic so that the leather bends a little.  See the video for an example.  Once that's done you can slide in your journal and use the strand without the knot to hold the journal.

Now that the journal is in I can see how long I need the flap to be.  I cut for length and put in a decorative curve.  Once that was done I punch a hole in the flap and ran a leather strip through it and tied off a knot so it couldn't come back through.  I use the leather strip for my tie.  I had a decorative weight for the other end that will help hold it in place.  All done!

Overall, to make one journal took about an hour, but could be done more quickly once you were used to it.

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