Leather has a way of teaching you things. The first thing I've learned is when you tell people that you can't get the idea of leather tassels out of your head, conversation either stops completely or turns down some very confusing alleys. The second thing I learned is when you try to explain that the leather came from your grandmother and you feel it is your duty to put it to good use, all hope of a normal conversation has pretty much flown out the window. Finally, I've learned that trying to explain that you're thinking "Christmas gifts" is a great way to divide your friends into two very, very distinct groups.
The leather has also made me ask some questions. Like why my grandmother had all this to begin with:
These are just some (SOME!) of the pieces that found their way into my craft hoard somehow. They seem to be samples from, I would guess, a furniture store littered with customers who couldn't decide between wine and Bordeaux and whether they wanted buttery soft or ridiculously soft leather.
Beyond questioning how she got it, I can't help but wonder what she had planned for it or if she had a plan at all. She could be quite the craft supply hoarder (at least I come by it naturally), but owning it did not mean she actually had a plan for it. While my mind has reeled with questions and possibilities, one thing has remained constant: I've got to use them! And that's where these guys come in:
The funny thing about these is I never wanted the key ring portion, only the silver rimmed tag (for card making, gift wrapping, etc.) so I was forming my own "what the...." collection of key rings at the bottom of the container. Clearly, leather keychains are a wonderful idea and potential gift, especially considering how quickly you can make these! I made all three of these in about an hour (and that was with learning curve, faffing-with-it time)!
If you'd like to make your own, you will need:
- Leather, vinyl, or pleather
- Key chains
- Cutting mat, ruler, and rotary cutter OR
- Ruler, pencil, and scissors
- Hot glue
- Thread in a contrasting color, needle, and thimble (optional)
This is the first one I made and it was great for an easy learning curve. Decide how wide and long you would like the finished product to be. Mine is one inch wide and 3.5 inches long at the longest point when completed. Remember, whatever finished length you will want will have to be doubled because you are just folding the leather over through the key ring. I jut went for a 7 inch unfolded length because that's how wide the samples are. Measure and mark the width on the back of the leather and cut with scissors, or just visually mark it out with a ruler and cutting board and use your rotary cutter like I did here:
Interesting side note: that is WAY too wide for the small keychains that came on those circular tags. Thankfully, since I was at work, a friend came to the rescue with a wider key ring that was perfect! I know, I know: I just ruined Just Stash January a little bit. However, if the purposes are to not spend money and to look at my craft supplies in a whole new way, both of those goals are still being met. So hush!
When you have the piece of leather cut, you can gently fold it over and freehand cut a design on the bottom. I went for a basic slash, but a centered point or just leaving it straight would also look nice. Then just slide one end through the key ring, fold over, match up your points and hot glue the two sides together, being careful to not go all the way up to the key ring (I like for it to be able to slide around). Easy peasy!
This little guy really isn't much harder, but much skinnier at 1/5 inch. The only other major difference is adding a tiny bit of stitching before you glue it together. I just eyeballed where I would like a simple stitch to go. This is where that thimble is really going to help. Now is not the time to try a bunch of fancy embroidery. The leather just isn't into it (at least mine wasn't). You could, however, take this moment to add a charm to the stitch. An initial or favorite item would be an excellent way to personalize this. If you are really feeling brave (and strong), you could top stitch all the way around the edge of the bigger key chain and give it a more luxury finish.
Now the one that started it all: the tassel. Start off by cutting several narrow strips of leather. Mine are 1/5 inch wide and 7 inches long again. For this size key ring I only needed 5 strips: 4 for the fringe and 1 to wrap around the top. I then layered the strips through the key ring. I preferred the look of layering first one, then two on top of that (side by side) then one final piece back in the center. The last piece of fringe will wrap around the others almost right under the key ring. A dot of hot glue to anchor the starting point and then wrap until desired (I liked just one wrap with a little more glue). Go easy on the hot glue. You don't want it squeezing out and burning you.
Wouldn't these make great presents? If you added a charm to the leather (or even just to the key ring), I could see these being the tag for the wrapped present. I'd love to see other variations! Tag me on Instagram or Twitter. And don't forget: if you're making this as part of the Just Stash January challenge, just use that hashtag so we can all find you!
Finally, I have a LOT of leather still. If you have a suggestion for using it, please leave it in the comment (my friend who provided the bigger key ring has already suggested a coin purse). Inspiration is always welcome!