A Handmade Leather E-Reader Case and a Cheeseburger Cake for Father's Day!

6/19/2013 11:27:00 PM

Question:  What do you sew a guy for Father's Day?
Answer:  A very masculine padded leather e-reader case... of course!

The story goes like this:  My husband really needed an e-reader, but he didn't think so. I told him several times, but he always said, "no, I like to read real books", "no I don't need one", "no I don't like the screens".  BUT, he travels a lot for work and spends hours in airports and on airplanes reading.  We are always buying him books to lug around (he seems to only read heavy books), and they take up so much room in his bag. He's always running out of books too. An e-reader would give him an endless supply.  It just made sense, but he wouldn't hear of it, which made NO sense to me. Sigh.

Much to my amazement (not really), last week my DH asks me, "Do you think I want a Kindle or a Kobo?"

"Umm.... what? Why? Are you getting one?"

"Yah! All the guys at work have them, and they think I should get one. I had a look at Blah, Blah's and it's great, he loves it! So which one has more titles available, and how do the bookstores work?"

"Really Mike, Really... REALLLY?  The guys at work hey?", I say. "I told you so, I TOLD YOU SO!!  WHY do you never listen to my ideas? hmm???"

Anyway... my darling husband has purchased himself a new Kobo Aura, because it has a backlight and apparently that is why he didn't want one when I suggested it... because he was waiting for this special one.  Since it's new, we couldn't find a case for it yet, so..... sew..... sew I sewed one the night before Father's Day.    Excellent idea.

Here's a look:

About the fabric:  What a challenge to find fabric in my stash that looked masculine.  I instantly thought of the soft lambskin leather that I got at Tandy's a couple of weeks ago.  This black leather is very soft and thin and almost feels a bit like the thickness of an ultra suede.  It's only about 0.8 mm thick so sewing it on my regular machine wouldn't be a problem, I wouldn't even have to dust off old Pinky (the heavy duty) for it.

Finding lining fabric was difficult, and luckily I had one FQ of the very awesome Architextures by Carolyn Friedlander for Robert Kaufman.  I have it in the green/blue as well, but I knew this orange/black would be perfect.  Score!  So glad I had that.

About the zipper pouch pattern:  There are many great zipper pouch patterns on the internet available.  No need to reinvent the wheel here, a simple google search will yield you hundreds.  I didn't go by a pattern, but this is a tutorial showing the method I use.  Go HERE!  I used 1/4" seams and a zipper much too long for my fabric panels, and trimmed off the ends.  I prefer to do that rather than hunt for a zipper the exact size.

How I altered the pattern to suit leather and an e-reader:

* I measured the e-reader and added 1 1/2 inches to both the length and width.  I cut two pieces of leather for the exterior, and two of cotton for the lining.

* In most cases, you will want to interface your zipper pouch, and in this case it was especially important because I wanted the reader to be safe in a padded pouch.  I couldn't use anything fusible, such as a fusible fleece, so I grabbed my by Annies Soft and Stable to use as a sew-in interfacing on the leather.

* Normally, you would place your fabric piece on an uncut piece of Soft and Stable, baste around the edges, and then trim the Soft and Stable, but in this case, I didn't want to add basting stitches through the leather, and I wanted to be able to easily trim back the Soft and Stable to the seam lines created by the actual seams (leaving less bulk) so instead, I cut my Soft and Stable squares to match the exterior leather size and taped them on. (Putting too many stitching holes through the leather will weaken the leather and cause tears along the seam line, much like tearing off a postage stamp!)

* Important:  I trimmed 1/2" off of the top edge of the Soft and Stable (the edge that the zipper will be stitched to) because I didn't want the Soft and Stable to add bulk in the zipper seam or top stitching. To attach the Soft and stable to the leather, I used double-sided adhesive mounting tape. (This tape is tackier than double-sided wash-away tape and found in your craft section, probably by scrapbooking or picture framing). I put the tape on the leather about 1/2" in from the edges so that I wouldn't be sewing through it when I sewed the sides together.  Essentially, the Soft and Stable will match the left, right and bottom edges of your leather pieces, and be 1/2" shorter along the top (zipper) edge.

* I followed the instructions to make a zipper pouch like I normally would, but left a much larger opening for turning than what would be normally recommended.  I left open the entire bottom of the lining for turning as the leather and Soft and Stable would be quite bulky. BEFORE turning,  I trimmed back the Soft and Stable right back to the seam line, being very careful not to clip any stitches.

What I would do differently next time:  The sewing machine sewed through the layers very easily, and it wasn't until I was part way through that I realized that I hadn't even put a leather needle in, and my Universal needle was doing just fine.  (Using a walking foot is recommended!!!) But... I used regular sew-all polyester thread (never use cotton on leather, it deteriorates the leather) and I do regret not using a stronger thread like an upholstery thread or nylon thread. I am afraid that I may have broke a thread in the bottom of the pouch when turning, so I turned it right side in again, and did another row of stitching across the bottom to be sure and that is a bit of a no-no as well, because it creates more stitching holes, but I didn't have a choice - darn it!

There is a lot of bulk in the zipper ends, so when I turned the pouch right side out, it made a smaller opening than I bargained for and the Kobo barely fit in! It's snug, but works. That is why I recommend the panels be at least 1 1/2" wider than the e-reader is long. The Soft and Stable is thick too, so it "uses up" a lot of fabric width too. I'm sure that's not a technical term.... if you have one let me know!!

Closing thoughts on the e-reader case:  It was fun, fast and very easy!!  I'm doing it again!  And... IF Mike doesn't like it for his Kobo, it's going to make a great passport or headphone bag for him. So it's all good.

I had a bit of trouble finding a masculine looking prop to go in a photo with it though... how about Mike's shaving brush... does that look masculine??  What does shaving have to do with an e-reader? Nothing.  But I think it looks good there.

What else we did for Father's Day:  CAKE!!!  We had a BBQ with family here at our house, and we had CAKE, CAKE, CAKE!!   Man, I love cake. This really, really cool cake was made by Jacqueline at Cake Affair here in Spruce Grove. It was a very delish neapolitan 3 layered cake and went over very well with the crowd.   I had the cake sitting in the middle of the table all afternoon and a few people never knew it was a cake! Three different people actually thought it was a stuffed or plastic centrepiece. Great cake, Jacqueline!

I hoped you liked my little story about the leather e-reader case. If you have any questions at all, please ask and I will try to help as best as I can. All I can say is, don't be afraid to use different fabrics when sewing.  We are not always limited to quilting cottons. There is so much nice canvas duck, corduroy, faux suede, thin leather, vinyl, upholstery fabric, decor cotton, etc., out there.  Experiment!  You will usually get great results and learn a lot in the process.

I hope this helped in some way.  Leave a comment!!

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  1. The leather case you made for your husband is lovely and I love all of the hints, thanks. I saw the cake when you posted it on Facebook, I would have been one of the ones at the party thinking it was a plastic centerpiece.

    1. Thank you, Mara. I would love to be able to make cakes like that too. Hope things are going better for you in Greece right now! Janelle

  2. Very nice! I saw another project using Soft and Stable yesterday and just ordered some yesterday. Can't wait to try it out.

    1. Yes, it's great stuff. I am trying to write up patterns that use it, but a lot of my patterns have pleats it seems. I will work with it a lot more in the future! Janelle

  3. Ooo I love that. I would love to try it. Where do you get your leather from. I've never worked with leather still a bit foreign and scary to me

    1. Hi Carin! I get my leather from thrifted leather jackets or from my local Tandy’s. Www.tandyleatherfactory.ca. Most of the leather is too thick for home sewing. You need to buy the thinnest possible and that is usually lambskin. They had a big sale this month on some lambskin and brought in a lot of different finishes. I would start with a thrifted jacket. Try and buy a large men’s jacket because you get bigger pieces, and go for the thin soft stuff. I hope that helps!!

    2. Thrifted jacket - never thought of that. I am going thriftiness this weekend:)
      Thank you - I will make sure to look for thin leather.

  4. Janelle, love the cover you made for Mike's Kobo. Isn't lambskin a dream to sew. You might have to visit Tandy's again. :)

  5. This is a very good idea and I think the same idea could be used to make a case for ipad ect.

  6. You deserve brownie points for this one!!! Really cool :) Mike's a lucky guy!

  7. I love, love, love your leather e-reader case. I have yet to make a bag or a pouch or a case for anything, but this really inspired me. You are AWESOME! Thank you so much for posting this. Before this, I didn't realize that making something like this at home was possible.

  8. So talented and you crack me up, love learning and laughing! I've been daring to tackle leather next and actually just finished cutting up a floor length leather jacket that looks and seems just like the leather you used. Looking through my needles I have everyone I need except leather so I'm happy to know I can use a different one. Soft and Stable was delivered yesterday so I just might face my fears! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  9. Janelle, I love this lambskin pouch, so handsome ! Thank you for all the tips in dealing with bulk. I have yet to master the reduction of bulk at both ends of the zipper which sadly causes me to shy away from zippers. Can you provide for me the online fabric store link that you mentioned in another one of your blogs (creating leather straps) for purchasing faux leather. I would also like to know what brand you have been happiest with as I am wanting to use it in conjunction with purse making from both your crafty class and another one. Buying this type of product is tough without being able to feel it first. I do not have any local sources.

  10. Great blog of leather bags I am thoroughly impressed by the way you present your article, information and the ability to give unknown facts is the most surprising factor of all. This article looks very good. Thanks for sharing.
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The contents of this blog, including text, original photos and ideas are the sole property of the author. If you intend to use my text or images, please link back to this blog and give credit to Emmaline Bags & Patterns. A notification email would be greatly appreciated too! Please do not ever republish an entire post, any tutorials, or post photos of my family. Thank you, Janelle