Leather Journal DIY

Naptime Gnome Idea #19 Simple, yet durable, adventure journal in about 2 naptimes (allowing for dry times)Friday is adventure day around here. The kidlettes have enjoyed geode hounding, date tasting, tunnel exploring, ghost hunting, and hot spring observing, and who … Continue reading

The 1st Week of Christmas – Leather E-Reader Snuglies

Naptime Gnome Idea #7


I love Christmas, and it’s not because of the getting, it is entirely due to the giving!  I once made these E-reader covers for my mom(-in-law) and my sister(-in-law); it still tickles me thoroughly every time I see them unleash their Kindles.  Maybe they just dress their Kindles when they know I’ll be around, like the hideous sweater you still wear once a year because you may be in the presence of the giver, but even so, it makes me happy to think they may possibly enjoy something I took the time to think up and make for them. If you’re an attentive little reader, you’re still wondering why on Earth I’m talking about Christmas when we haven’t even started chasing off 18 year-old trick-or-treaters… surely this is just an error in premature posting. Nope.

The truth is, gnomes love the holidays, Christmas especially. You may have noticed the striking physical resemblance between gnomes and elves, this isn’t mere convergent evolution, we are actually closely related, forming a monophyletic clade, along with pixies, of course. True story. <;’)

So it shouldn’t be at all shocking that around Christmas time, gnomes become particularly active. For years now, my mom (hither forth known as the Seamstress Gnome), grandma (who actually named herself the “Happy Hooker” Gnome… she’s rather brilliant with a crochet hook… <;’) what were you thinking?), and I (you know who I am by now), have made a point to put special effort and thought into one particular present for each other.

Over the years this tradition has developed into a slight one-upping of sorts. The funny part is we aren’t trying to outdo each-other, but ourselves. The Seamstress Gnome is quite crafty with a sewing machine so, not surprisingly, her most personal gifts have always been custom clothes, unique bags, housewares and the like. I have a cheap streak that virtually permeates my core, so I’m always looking to make something unique and purposeful from items we already have, or can be found for very little and amped up with embellishment. The Happy Hooker (tee hee) has always made the most amazing crocheted items, the most beautiful being intricate lace that I swear she completes mostly in her sleep… seriously she’s amazing!

Each year we strive to produce a singular more fantastic gift than the year prior. As you can imagine, we sort of topped out a few years back and now we just make sure we make each other something special. We’ve come to call this gift our “Heart Gift” and it is our most treasured exchange throughout the year.

Since I’ve started my own little gnomey brood, the number of Heart Gifts I must produce has greatly increased, I have Mr. Gnome of course, the many gnome-in-laws, and who could forget the little munchkin gnomes. In the last few years I have shifted to giving almost exclusively Heart Gifts.

When this tradition started I began working a few days or weeks before Christmas (usually keeping busy for most of winter break), but as the list of things to fabricate has lengthened, so has the holiday season. Now I figure I need to start about 12 weeks out… hence, the “12 Weeks of Christmas!” This suits Mr. Gnome just fine, as he likes to sneak the tree up sometime around Halloween!

A friend of mine suggested I blog about the goings on in the gnome workshop leading up to Christmas. I loved the idea, but as many of my gnomeys read these posts, I can’t divulge the details of the coming holidays’ Heart Gifts.  Instead I’ve decided to post about Heart Gifts of Christmas Past. I’ll be sure to keep good notes this year so maybe next year you can read about this year’s antics. <:’)

Some will be brief descriptions with photos, while others will have tips and things I’ve learned through my many OOPSes, I even hope to include some templates along the way so you can cut down on some of your Heart Gift lead time, should you choose to follow suit! <:’) 

So without further adieu, the first Heart Gift of Christmas:

E-Reader Snuglies

I can’t claim the idea for this, my mother- and sister-in-law had new Kindles that desperately needed new clothes, they actually requested some kind of cover. So here is what I came up with. They are just simple envelopes with fold-over flaps. I had some leather scraps my mom had let me abscond with a few years back that I thought would be nice and durable, and wouldn’t look terribly homemade. So here is what I came up with:

My sister(-in-law) likes clean modern lines and one of her favorite colors is green, so I went with a smooth hide in light green.
The closure is just a strip of leather sewn into the seam of the envelope to tuck the flap under.
My mom(-in-law) likes rustic Southwest inspired art and fashion, so I thought she’d enjoy the raw-edge flap and sinew closure.

These were incredibly simple, and could be made out of any fabric.

If you’ve never worked on leather, you can bypass some of my mistakes with these tips:

  • Make sure you use a long stitch (otherwise you’ll just perforate the leather).
  • Use a nice hardy needle and start with a fresh one.
  • If you are using an ordinary sewing machine, be careful not to use thick leather or too many layers… if your sewing machine is groaning, reassess. <:’)
  • Be very careful with pins, either pin close to the edge of the project so it is on the inside of the pouch when sewn, or don’t pin at all. Bobby pins and smooth hair clips work well for holding your leather together if you are worried about leaving permanent holes. 
  • OOH, and the best advise I can offer… Place a piece of thin paper between your presser foot and the leather, this will make it feed super smooth. I figured this out on accident because I couldn’t get it to feed (the leather provides too much traction), so I placed a piece of notebook paper over the work, and it glided right on through! Now I use tissue paper or tracing paper. This way it tears away, with no remnants, when you’re done! I would think parchment or pattern paper would work too.

Other than that, leather is REALLY fun to work with!  So have fun and get creative with it!

If you don’t have scraps to work with look for items at thrift shops to dissect. Just imagine what you could do with a big outdated bag, or a huge leather trench coat! Not crazy about the secondhand scene? Visit a leather outlet like Tandy.

-The Naptime Gnome <;’)

DIY Fabric Covered Label Windows

Naptime Gnome Idea #2

Add a Custom Fabric Label Window to Just About Anything!

The gnomes responsible for cleaning-up around here all really appreciate labels!  For some reason, even when everyone knows the rightful home of various household items, things have a much higher likelihood of ending up in their homes, if a label is involved.  Thus, freeing up more time for the clean-up gnomes!  As I double as a clean-up gnome, I am particularly fond of these handy little devices. The best kind of labels are those that can be changed at will, with little hassle. This makes chalkboards really high on my list of awesome decorating tools, but the clean lines of label windows are right up there!  
Here are some label windows, hard at work, in the “mud room” portion of the new laundry room remodel. 
You won’t be hard pressed to find all sorts of baskets, folders and various other organizers adorned with these household helpers, but what about adding them to your own projects, or items you already have?  Here is a quick (honest, they really don’t take long, the tutorial is just very thorough to account for various skill/experience levels), easy way to make label windows with items you probably already have in your home.  
These windows were custom made for the little bear’s new backpack. We wanted a way to minimize the bulk of his preschool pack, while increasing the functionality… this is code for “make sure nothing gets lost on the way to teacher/show and tell or back home again.” Enter Naptime Gnome with one-of-a kind “folder pack,” complete with labelled pockets. 
So grab a cup of your favorite warm and snugly beverage and join us for some label making!

DIY Label Windows
Crafty Gnomes: 2, for minimal sewing skill
 (See the Crafty Gnome Key Below)
Note: If you don’t have a machine, 
you could definitely glue them 
using fabric glue or fusible tape.
Time to Complete: 1 naptime to make 3-5 (possibly more if you’re quick, or they are super sleepy!)
Supplies and Tools
  • Old jeans or other denim/stiff canvas material (cut-off legs from shorts, or old bits of canvas drop-cloth are great)
  • Fabric to cover (here I used a felt backed vinyl tablecloth)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Straight pins
  • Paper for labels 
  • Printer for printing labels (if your handwriting looks anything like mine!:) Optional
 Making the Denim Form

    1. Cut a rectangle of canvas about as large as the window you would like to make. About 3.5″ x 2.5″ is pretty standard. I went 3.25″ x 2.25″ because I wanted them to be a little smaller to better fit a wee-one’s world.

    2. Fold in half (either landscape or portrait, doesn’t matter). Measure the width you would like the edge of the window to be (these are 1/2″ frames). Remember, that once you wrap the denim with fabric, it will be slightly wider, but the difference is only about 1/16″ – 1/8″ of an inch.  Keeping the frame folded, mark the inner edge of the frame. Using three straight cuts, cut the upper, then lower line, then remove the center by cutting the third edge between them.

    3. When you unfold the fabric, you should have a relatively symmetrical, rectangular frame. Trim any frays or wavy edges.


    Preparing the Cover Fabric
    4. Place your frame on your cover fabric and measure approximately 1/5″ out from the form, on all four sides. Mark and cut.

    5. Mark the approximate center and inner corners with small dots. These will be your guides for cutting the inner portion of your cover fabric to make the “window.” I used dry-erase marker on this vinyl. You can use a pattern marker/pencil or a sliver of soap if using a darker fabric.

    6. Fold the cover fabric diagonally and bite into it at a perpendicular angle with your scissors. This should be the beginning of your slit from the opposite or diagonally oriented marks. Carefully extend your cut to the dots on either side.

    7. Insert the scissors halfway down the diagonal slit and cut to the remaining dots on either side, making an “X.” NOTE: DO NOT CUT BEYOND THE MARK. If you cut too far, the frame will be exposed underneath. You can always snip a bit more if you need to, but “you may never come back” (and if you didn’t hear that ethereal echo in the background, you may have to rent the movie “All Dogs Go to Heaven.”

    Wrapping the Denim Form 
    8. Now it’s time to get our wrap on. 🙂 Place the cover face down and position the denim form with the “X” peeking through the window.

    9. Pull the triangular cut flaps up and outward to wrap the inner perimeter of the frame. Pin and repeat with each triangular flap. Flip over and inspect the corners, if the frame is fairly well covered… GREAT JOB! If any flaps look a bit loose, or the inner edges look uneven, one at a time, unpin the offending flaps, reposition, pin and continue.

    10. Trim the portions of the wrapped flaps that exceed the denim frame. This will reduce the bulk when your wrap the outer edge.

    11. Fold the flaps in to cover the outer perimeter of the form. If you are using a fabric that can be safely ironed, this would be an excellent place to whip out the iron, and simply press the folds as you make them to keep them crisp.

    My vinyl would have shriveled into a little charred ball, so it took a little more effort to keep the edges looking crisp. To get nice square corners, I tried “gift wrapping” by making little triangular folds, but only resulted in bulky rounded corners. Ultimately, it was easiest to fold the flaps in on either side and pin.

    THEN, doing the bottom and top, being careful to keep the folds tucked in. The next few steps outline this technique more clearly. So if you have clean corners, just skip to step 12.

    11a. Fold the bottom (or top if you desire) flap, by first pinching the fold so the fabric doesn’t slide diagonally, then fold it directly up (or down if doing the top).

    11b. Pin the corner in place, temporarily.

    11c. Then smooth out the flap and pinch the other corner fold and pull up to pin, being careful to keep the fold tucked in. Repeat for the last flap.

    Stitch Into Place
    12. Using your desired thread, top-stitch in place by sewing first around the outer edge. This makes it safe to remove your pins as you go, as the tips of your inner flaps should extend to your stitch. Then stitch your inner edge.  I chose to stitch use an 1/8″ margin, but you can sew between 1/8″ and 1/16″ from the edge of your frame with a window this size. 

    Attach to Desired Object
    13. Now that you have a beautiful little frame, you’ll need to attach it to something in need of organizing!  You can attach by stitching into place by top-stitching (using a running stitch) right over the top of 3 of your outer stitch lines, or you can use glue, again, only on three sides. The open edge will allow you to slip in your tags. On this project I left the top open because the pack will usually be upright. But you could also put them on the side, which on some items may lay nicer.

    NOTE: If gluing, be careful to use just a very thin line of glue along the VERY outer edge, so you will leave space for your label cards. If gluing to fabric, fabric glue, or fusing tape (if your fabric can be ironed) are probably your best bets, but you may want to use something a bit more substantial if you are gluing to paper, wood, plastic or metal. I’ve never had much luck with fabric glue bonding to anything but fabric, and of course, me. I’m a fan of the newer white and yellow glues: Titebond, Elmer’s Glue-All, and Liquid Nails (though this may be overkill! 🙂 always seem to get the job done. Stay away from Gorilla Glue or Super/Krazy Glue for this, as they tend to misbehave a bit with fabric, plus they make a big fat mess.

    Design Designer Labels
    14. Your labels should be slightly smaller than the space within your outer stitching perimeter, but bigger than the window so they don’t jump out. I’ve found a light cardstock or even printable business cards seem to stay put the best. Measure and establish your desired label size, about 1/4″ narrower and about a 1/4″ shorter than the outer stitched edge should do the trick.

    15.  You can hand write the labels and be done (YAY!), or you can print them using a word-processing or image creator/editor program.

    16.  Cut your labels to fit, slide in, stuff your box, basket, or other receptacle with ONLY what is printed on it.  Harass mercilessly, any individual that does otherwise… or simply reorganize their sock drawer…


    The Naptime Gnome

    Crafty Gnome Key:
    1 Crafty Gnome = Simple cutting, gluing, tracing, and/or painting, etc.
    2 Crafty Gnomes = Any of the above, plus the use of a few tools, and may involve a sewing machine for some simple seams… nothing crazy.
    3 Crafty Gnomes = Could require some practice with any of the above items, and/or could involve power tools (you’ll meet Burly Gnome soon enough)
    4 Crafty Gnomes = Includes most or all of the above… A bear of a project or requires a bit of help.
    5 Crafty Gnomes = Perhaps a bit sorry I attempted it.