Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Men's Leather and Tweed iPad Cover Tutorial

Tweed & Leather

I love a good fabric deal.  And while I still love to support local and independent fabric shops with their lovely designer prints as much as possible, they are often more expensive. To keep my bank account - and my other half, Monty- happy, I still keep an eye out for a good bargain.

At the end last winter I stocked up on some great tweed, wool and plaid prints (even though spring was approaching and I really wanted buy bright and cheerful prints!) And the heavier more durable weight fabrics were also a great buy for making bags, wallets and covers for techie stuff. At $5 or less a metre...who could pass that up? I took my bargains home and tucked them away for later use.

Fast forward 4 months and I'm browsing at the local Len's Mill store when I spy a box of leather remnants.  The store sells these by the ounce, 1/2 pound or pound. I have a rummage around and find loads of beautiful soft leather in different colours. I've been dying to make some leather bags and cheerfully head up to the counter to have my choice weighed. Only $125.00  Boooo!!!!

Unfortunately, the store will not cut the leather remnants so you have to buy the pieces as is. My bank account couldn't handle that at the moment so the dream of making my own leather bag will have to wait.

Not willing to let my chance at making something with leather go I headed back to the box to look for a smaller piece. After doing everything but upend the contents of the box I manage to find two small pieces of a supple, chocolate brown and 4 rectangular pieces of black leather.  At the counter they tell me $12.50 for the lot. A price my wallet can easily handle.  And brainstorm! My friend Dave has asked me to make him a tweed cover for the new iPad he won at work.  I can use the brown leather remnants to bump up the design element and make it something special. Woot!  

Okay, let's get started!

This is a slightly more complicated tutorial than my usual posts  because of the raw leather trim details. Anyone who is comfortable with the assembly of a basic bag or laptop cover should be okay with this tutorial.  I didn't take many pictures so I have tried to explain all steps in detail.  And the pictures of the finished cover should help to explain anything that isn't clear. 

I recommend checking out some tips on sewing with leather online and maybe practicing on some scraps before you begin. This link from You Sew Girl was helpful when I ran into trouble.  I used the paper method.

To begin you will need:

  • leather remnants (see picture right)
  • one fat quarter of tweed fabric (exterior)
  • one fat quarter of plaid cotton (interior) 
  • magnetic snap
  • scraps of fusible interfacing 
  • leather needle
  • cotton thread
  • rayon thread (for sewing leather)

From the tweed cut:                             
  • two rectangles 9.5" x 11.5" for the exterior
From the plaid cut:
  • two pieces of plaid 8.75" x 10.75" for the interior
  • two pieces of plaid 6.25" x 9.25" for the flap closure
From the cotton batting cut:
  • two pieces 9.5" x 11.5" for exterior padding
  • two pieces 8.75 x 10.75 for interior padding
  • one piece 6.25" x 9.25"
 From the leather cut:
  • one rectangle 6" x 9.75" for the flap closure
  • one circle approximately 6.5" diameter. (I used a plate but any uniform circle will do)  Subcut your circle into 4 quarters for the corners of your cover.
NOTE*** use a pen or black marker on the wrong side of leather pieces to mark pieces or pattern placement.

Step 1: Baste or Quilt the Batting to the Tweed
  1. Lay your large tweed rectangles wrong side facing up.  
  2. Lay cotton batting  pieces down on the wrong side of the tweed aligning edges and corners.  
  3. Pin.  
  4. Baste in place using a 1/8" seam allowance or quilt using a pattern of your choosing (I quilted straight lines following the lines in the tweed about 1.5" apart) 

Step 2: Attach the Leather Corner Pieces  
  1. Working one at a time, align the semi-circle leather pieces onto the bottom two corners of each tweed rectangle with right sides facing up.  
  2. The right angle of the leather pieces should fit into the corners with the curved edges of the leather facing toward the center of the tweed rectangle.
  3. Set your stitch length to a long stitch length and stitch the leather in place along the curved edge of the leather using a 1/4" seam allowance. The curved edges will be unfinished or "raw" on the finished bag. 
  4. Repeat for all four bottom corners
NOTE***  If you are using a domestic machine (ie: your machine is NOT a leather sewing machine) you will need to use baby powder or paper over the leather to ensure it feeds through the machine easily. I used tracing paper so I could still see the edge of the leather and peeled it off afterwards.

Step 3:  Baste Cotton Batting to Interior Plaid Pieces  
  1. Change your bobbin and top thread to cotton.
  2. Lay your interior plaid rectangles out with wrong sides facing you.
  3. Place your remaining two pieces of cotton batting on top of the plaid pieces aligning edges. 
  4. Pin in place along all four edges.
  5. Baste in place using a 1/8" seam allowance.

Step 4:  Mark and Attach the Magnetic Snap  
  1. Take one tweed rectangle (wrong side facing you) and find the center of the top edge (the edge without the leather corners).
  2. Measure 2" down from the center point of top edge and mark the placement for your magnetic snap
  3. I usually reinforce the area for the snap with a scrap of interfacing.  If using iron it on now.  Then mark the placement of the holes for the prongs using the snap backing
  4. Snip the places you just marked for the prongs of the magnet.  Make sure to catch the tweed without cutting the holes too large
  5. Attach one half of your snap making sure to attach the backing plate. 

Step 5: Sew the Exterior  

  1. Take the two tweed rectangles (with bottom leather corners attached) and lay one over the other with right sides facing each other and matching the leather seams. The half of the snap you attached should be near at the top and the leather trim on the bottom corners.
  2. Pin together around both short sides and the bottom edge (the long edge with the leather detail corners).  Make sure to pin the tweed sections only.  Pins in the leather will leave holes. 
  3.  Sew together along all three pinned edges using a 1/2" seam allowance.  NOTE*** Because the layers of tweed, batting and leather are bulky I used a larger seam allowance of 1/2" make it easier to turn out the corners and to make sure there would be room for the IPad in the finished cover.
  4.  Clip corners and turn right side out.  Use somthing with a blunt edge to gently poke the leather corners out.  Press the leather by hand.

  Step 6:  Sew the Interior
  1. Take your two 8.75" x 10.75" plaid pieces (with batting attached) and lay them out right sides together with long edges running horizontally
  2. Pin the short side edges and the bottom long edge.  Leave a 4" gap in the bottom edge for turning.
  3. Sew using a 1/4" seam allowance
  4. Clip corners.

Step 7: Attach the Second Half of the Magnetic Closure  
  1. Find the center of the long edge of one 6.25" x 9.25" plaid piece and then measure 1.75" down from the top.  Iron a scrap of interfacing over this spot.
  2. Using the remaining backing plate mark the placement for the other half of your magnetic closure (measure again if needed)
  3. Snip the holes for the magnet prongs being careful not to cut them too large.  
  4. Attach the other half of the magnetic snap to the right side of your plaid piece.

 Step 8: Sew the Plaid Lining for the Leather Flap

Note*** I rounded the corners of my flap but this is optional.  You could just as easily leave them square. If you would like rounded corners just mark the two corners on either side of the magnetic snap using a drinking glass or any uniform circle. 


  1. Take your 6.25" x 9.25" plaid pieces (one will have the magnet attached) and lay them out with rights sides together.
  2. Place the remaining 6.25" x 9.25" cotton batting piece on top of the plaid pieces.  
  3. Pin around both short edges and the long edge with the snap attached. 
  4. Sew together using a 1/4" seam allowance.
  5. Turn out your flap lining and press.  If you rounded your corners you will need to make small clips in the seam of the curved edges to ensure your curved corners will lay neat and flat.

 Step 9: Attach the Plaid Lining to the Leather Flap 
  1. Take your 6" 9.75" leather piece for the flap and lay it out wrong side facing you.  If you are using the curved corners like I did you will need to round two corners along one long edge now.
  2. Take your finished plaid lining piece and lay it on the wrong side of the leather with the snap facing you and the raw edges matching the top edge of the leather
  3. The lining should be about a 1/4" smaller than the leather piece.  This is okay.  Make sure the plaid is aligned as evenly as possible leaving the same amount of leather on all three sides.
  4. Placing a piece of tracing paper under the leather (to help it move under the presser foot), sew the plaid lining to the leather following the finished edge of the plaid and using a 1/8" seam allowance.  This will not only attach the lining but will give a nice topstitched look to the leather side of your flap.

 Step 10:  Assemble the IPad Cover and Attach the Sleeve
  1. Take the exterior (tweed) part of your cover and turn it wrong side out.
  2. Take the interior (plaid) part of your cover and with right side out, place it inside the exterior cover.  The right side of the tweed and the rights side of the plaid should now be facing each other.
  3. Align the side seams and pin in place find the side of the cover with the magnetic closure attached and pin along that side matching the raw edges of the plaid interior with the raw edges of the tweed exterior. You should have one half (what will be the front half) of the cover pinned.
  4. Sew the pinned side of the cover using a 3/8" seam allowance. Remember to back stitch at beginning and end.
  5. Now place the plaid lined leather flap down into the tweed exterior and plaid interior on the open side (what will be the back of the cover). Center the flap between the side seams
  6. Make sure the leather side of the flap is facing the tweed and the plaid flap lining is facing the plaid interior of the cover. 
  7. All of the leather flap (with magnet attached) should now be enclosed within the cover with only the unfinished plaid edge of the leather flap protruding. 
  8. I left an extra 1/4" of the flap edge protruding instead of matching the raw edges with those of the cover to ensure it would be sewn securely. But you can just match raw edges if you want to make it easier.
  9. Using a 3/8" seam allowance, sew the back of the cover closed enclosing the leather flap as you go.  Because you cannot pin the leather flap without leaving holes make sure to check as you sew that the flap is not shifting and you are catching it in your stitching.
  10. Turn the cover out through the gap in the lining.  Hand press the seam you just sewed.
  11. Using a 1/4" seam allowance top stitch along the top edge of the cover.
  12. Hand stitch the opening in the plaid lining closed.

Admire you beautiful new leather trimmed iPad cover! 

I almost always adjust my sewing projects as I go along.  So if something isn't working for you with this tutorial or you see a way to make it better, then go for it.  I learn more from my mistakes than the projects that go smoothly!  

And as always, if you have any questions or comments about this project don't hesitate to ask.

NOTE*** This tutorial is for limited commercial use only.  I'm happy for people to use this tutorial to make items to sell at craft fairs or on ETSY sites, but ask that you not claim the design as your own or publish it as such for commercial use.  If you would like to link this tutorial to your web page or blog I'd love you to do so but would appreciate a note as to it's origins. Thanks!