Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Little Leather Books

There's something about leather that has always entranced me. Perhaps it's the smell of it, or maybe the smoothness of it under my fingers. Or could it be the fact that it only gets better with age? Whatever it is, I truly do love leather.

One day a few years ago, my husband brought me home some scrap leather. I salivated at the mere sight of those gorgeous leathers! I was brainstorming ideas of all the wonderful things I could do with them before I even breathlessly said "thank you" to my dear sweet hubby! Brainstorm, yes. Cut into, no. It was a few years before I would muster up enough courage to cut into them. Finally, I did. And I'm so thankful too, because I found another "fabric" to love...leather.

One of the first projects I did was out of necessity. Being the old-fashioned girl that I am, I still carry around a notebook and pencil for all my to-do-lists, shopping lists, exchanging phone numbers and emails with friends, ect (you know, all the things that most people use their iPhones or Blackberry's for these days!) One tragic day this winter, I lost my little notebook with it's fabric cover. If I ever find a picture of it, I'll post it, but it was a gorgeous print from Anna Maria Horner's Little Folk's line (Buttoned Up, Sea), and it even had a little pencil holder on the spine, perfect for a mini mechanical pencil. I believe I lost it in the wintery slush in the Whole Foods parking lot, but that is beside the point, really. After a few weeks with no notebook, I could take it no longer. Quickly, I whipped up another one. This time using leather and fabric. While I loved the old cover, it was starting to show some wear and tear. This new leather one I'm quite certain will last a lot longer (provided of course I don't lose it again!) This little leather book is pictured on the left.

The new cover also sports a lovely hand-dyed silk bookmark ribbon sewn in, so I no longer need to search for my current page. The fabric used for the pencil holder is yes, more from Anna Maria Horner (I told you I love her fabrics!). This is just a scrap I had on hand. (yes, I have lots of scraps too!) The stitching is in a contrasting pink and I used the same scrap fabric to create the "flaps" for the notebook to slip into. The whole thing measures in at about 3 3/4" x 5". The perfect size to slip into a front pocket of a purse for easy finding.
The next little leather notebook is actually feeding my Sudoku obsession. I blame my older sister, Rachel. See, she has the gift for math and numbers, while I, quite frankly, don't. But I DO like a good challenge. She told me a few years ago that she really liked doing Sudoku puzzles. Once I figured out what they were, I decided to give it a try. Failure. But I don't necessarily give up easily. So, last summer, I bought a book right before our vacation and tried again. Success!! I was also addicted! Since then I've been known to stay up late doing puzzle after puzzle after puzzle. I also found it to be a good way to spend the time while I wait for my girls to get out of school. But I was tired of always searching the house for a good book, carrying them around, and trying to keep the pencil from falling out,  So, I decided to make my own smaller, more portable version. This little book was the result. Modeled after a plastic, hard-cased notebook I saw in the dollar store, the pencil keeps it closed when not in use. Here's some more pictures of it opened up:

So, the puzzles are cut out from a huge book of Sudoku that I have (there's 4 puzzles on each page). I cut the puzzles out individually and simply clip them together with a binder clip. The clip then slips into a slit I cut in the leather flap. Under the flaps on both sides is some cut up cardboard (from a cereal box) to make the book stiff. Once I finish a puzzle, I put it under the left flap. I keep planning to put the answer sheet folded up under the right flap, but I have't actually done that yet:).
But I think my favorite part of this book is the owl on the front. 

It is from Amy Schimler's On A Whim II fabric. It is actually stitched onto another piece of leather, which is then cut and stitched on to the front of this book. The reason for this is because my first attempt at making this book did not turn out so well, but the applique was adorable and I couldn't stand to just throw away that cute little owl! I think I actually like it this way gives it more "texture". 

So, those are my little leather books. If there is any interest, I can try my hand at making a tutorial on how to make the sudoku book, and post the PDF pattern piece that I used to make it. It's sinfully simple to make and while I use it for Sudoku, the puzzles could also be swapped out for scrap paper to make a great list-making book. What a way to use up paper before sending it to the recycling center!
So, if anyone is interested in a free PDF pattern of this book, please leave a comment and I'll try to get one done! Thanks! (This might also include a little give-away!) Oh, and don't be intimidated by leather. It's actually quite simple to work with. I'll give all my tips in the tutorial. Also, I think these could be made from other materials, like wool felt, laminated fabric, see-through vinyl, brown paper (from grocery store bags) and even Tyvek envelopes. This just adds to the cool-ness of this project I think! I love options, don't you?! 

Thanks for letting me share!

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