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A nice leather pencil case

My grandfather gave me many years ago the pencil case that he had as a student. It holds only a few pencils but it has the right size and is somehow very convenient. I am using it ever since my grandfather gave it to me. I wanted to have a second one and I decided to make it myself.

The vintage pencil case that served as a model for the new design.

Here is what the self-made leather pencil case looks like:

The leather pencil case. It is flat and has a magnetic lock.

Inside the pencil case.

pencil-case design step by step

You need a large piece of leather. Leather can be quite expensive but sometimes you see people throwing out an old leather couch or other leather furniture. You can still use this leather even if it looks "dirty". Just cut out a nice large piece of leather and wash it in the washing machine (warm wash, about 60'C). Hang it up to dry (don't put it in the dryer) and you have a nice and clean piece of leather.

It's easy to sew leather on any household sewing machine. You don't need an industrial machine. You need however a leather needle. Leather needles don't have a ball-point tip. They are sharp at the tip and cut into the leather.

I always make first a paper model. This makes it easy to see if the design is more or less right. I have added dimensions such that you can easily copy it. The units are cm (centimeter).

A paper model. Units in cm. The wings on the left and right were originally 4 cm and 5 cm but I found later that this is a bit too short. 7cm on both sides is better.

For the lock I use a small neodym magnet and small piece of iron (a galvanized iron sheet).

Magnetic lock

The leather is then cut as per our paper model. An additional rectangular piece of leather, the size of the inner rectangular needs to be cut out for the inside of the pencil case.

The leather cut as per model + additional rectangular piece for the inside

We are sewing a small stripe of leather across the rectangular insert to hold the pens.

The additional rectangular piece for the inside. The brown strip of leather will be sewed in loops across the rectangular piece to hold the pens.

Additional rectangular piece with loops to hold the pens.

Take a sewing needle and pull the threads coming out on the front to the back such that they will not be visible once this piece is attached to the big outer leather sheet (the one cut as per paper model).

This insert with the loops for holding the pens is then sewn into the big piece of leather. To give the pencil case some stiffness I did as well glue a thin plastic sheet to the back of the insert before sewing it to the big piece of leather. You can find a suitable plastic sheet in your super market. Tomatoes or cakes are often packaged in clear plastic boxes. Cut a suitable sheet out of such a box.

All we need to do now is cut out some small patches of leather and use them to enclose the magnet and the iron sheet for the lock.

The the completed pencil case:

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© 2004-2024 Guido Socher