Salt and pepper, Batman and Robin, movies and popcorn; classic pairings that just work. Well, I’ve got a new one to add to the list: leather and tweed!
I’m a HUGE fan of tweed, I just love the classic touch it can add to a project. I’ve also been doing a lot of leather craft lately – and it’s fast becoming one of my favourite materials to work with. So, it was only a matter of time before I brought the two together!
This travel documents holder combines an inner leather slip-pocket and a tweed zipped pocket and lining, finished with a protective leather cover and a decorative tweed spine. I LOVE IT. If you take your time with it, you can make this a really robust and long-lasting piece that’s genuinely useful; perfect for keeping your passport, tickets and spare cash organised when you’re off jet-setting!
Note: this is a pretty complicated project, involving sewing zippers and working with leather and tweed. If you’re unsure on any of the steps, just send me a comment in the box at the bottom and I will help as best I can.
What you’ll need
- A large piece of medium thickness leather (approximately 50 cm x 50 cm)
- 30 cm x 40 cm tweed
- 65 cm long brass zip
- 20 cm long plastic zip
- Rotary cutter / craft knife
What to do
1. Cut out a 30 cm x 22 cm piece of tweed and add a zip down the centre (or just off-centre), by cutting the tweed length-ways and stitching the zip in place. Ensure the zip doesn’t run all the way to the edges – see the third picture in step 2.
2. Cut out a piece of leather that’s 25 cm x 18 cm. Place this leather piece on top of the tweed, on the reverse side to the small zip, then fold the tweed over on all sides and stitch in place. It helps to use masking tape or bulldog clips to hold the tweed in place while you sew. This creates one side of the documents holder – the tweed zip pocket.
3. Now you need to attach the brass zip to the tweed zip pocket that you’ve just made. Do this by carefully lining up the centre of the zip to the centre of the side of tweed zip pocket, pin it along the length of the zip and stitch in place. Make sure the zip is placed underneath the tweed, so the raw edge of the zipper fabric will be hidden when the outer cover of the documents holder is attached (see the next step).
4. You now have the basic tweed zip pocket side complete – you just need to neaten the outside. Before this can be done, the outer cover of the documents holder needs to be made. Cut out two pieces of 25 cm x 18 cm leather and one piece of 30 cm x 18 cm tweed. Hem the long edges of the tweed by folding over 1.5 cm and sewing in place. Then sew the two pieces of leather to each long edge of the tweed. Finally, fold the shorter top and bottom un-hemmed tweed edges over the leather and sew in place. This creates two leather faces (the front and back of the documents holder) joined together with a tweed spine.
5. Now the outer cover is made, it’s time to neaten up the tweed zip pocket from steps 1-3. Place one of the leather sections of the outer cover over the back of the tweed zip pocket – the layers you want are: tweed pocket wrapped around leather (made in steps 1 and 2), brass zip behind this, then the outer piece of leather made in step 4 to neaten it up and hide raw edges. Then sew the leather outer cover onto the tweed zip pocket (note that you will be sewing through two layers of leather plus one the tweed).
4. More than half of the documents holder is now complete! You just need to make the leather slip pocket. Start by sewing the other side of the outer cover that was made in step 4 (i.e. the leather section that you didn’t sew to the tweed zip pocket in step 5) to the other half of the brass zip. This bit is pretty tricky – you need to ensure that the zip remains aligned and the two halves of the outer cover stay lined up too. Just sew slowly and keep checking the zip runs smoothly.
5. With step 4 complete, you will have the complete outer cover attached to the brass zip, with the tweed zip pocket in place too. All you need to do is add the leather zip pocket to the other side. Cut out a 25 cm x 16 cm piece of leather, then open the brass zip and place the leather over the top of the brass zipper fabric on the opposite side to the tweed pocket. Then simply stitch it in place on all sides except the inner side (that lies next to the spine of the documents holder). Leave this section open to create the slip pocket.
Phew, this is a pretty in-depth project – but it is definitely worth the time investment! If you take your time, you could make a great quality and really useful documents holder. Plus, as with any DIY project, it’s completely customisable. You could change the colour of the leather, the pattern of the tweed, or even the overall dimensions to make it just right for you. Personally, I’m completely obsessed with my combination of brown leather and green tweed – it’s formal enough for business travel, but quirky enough for holidays.
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