I remember feeling a little giddy after discovering For the Makers. Janet Crowther, a diy jewelry genius, made every tutorial chic yet still totally doable. I was one of the sad subscribers when she ended the monthly diy box in 2016. But Janet is back, bringing her modern style to home decor this time. Her new book, A Well-Crafted Home, is loaded with so many amazing projects I had a hard time picking just one to share! Leather projects might seem intimidating, but they’ll last forever!
While perhaps not budget-friendly, leather only improves with age and this beautifully handmade basket will develop a wonderful patina over time. The other advantage to making and investing in this project is that it can float to any room in your home: Store magazines beside your sofa, pile pillows into it under the side table in your guest bedroom, keep towels and toilet paper easily accessible in your bathroom, or toss all your winter scarves into it for chic closet storage. This basket goes a long way!
- 1-inch heavyweight natural cowhide leather strips/ straps, cut to the following lengths:
- four 31-inch pieces (inside width)
- three 36-inch pieces (inside length)
- three 62-inch pieces (outside wraparound)
- two 15-inch pieces (handles) (see Tips)
- 58 large, steel, double-cap rivets, nickel-plated (see Tips)
- If you don’t want to buy precut leather straps, you can purchase tooling cowhide leather from Tandy Leather that can easily be cut by hand. Turn to page 211 for the tutorial.
- Buy a pack of 100 rivets for cost savings and to have some extras on hand. Not all rivets set cleanly, and occasionally some may need to be reset. Find them at www.tandyleather.com.
- Yardstick or soft tape measure
- Self-healing cutting mat
- Size 4, ⁵⁄₃₂-inch, round-drive steel leather punch
- Rubber mallet
- Rivet setter
- Rivet anvil
1. All the following marks should be centered, widthwise, on the leather, ½ inch from each edge, down the whole length of the leather strap. Starting with the inside width leather strips, working from left to right, pencil a small X at the following inch measurements: ½, 4, 7½, 11, 15½, 20, 23½, 27, 30½.
2. Next, mark the hole placement for the inside length leather strips. Working from left to right, pencil a small X at the following inch measurements: ½, 4, 7½, 11, 15¾, 20¼, 25, 28½, 32, 35½.
3. Mark all the hole placements for the outside wraparound leather strips. Working from left to right, pencil a small X at the following measurements: ½, 5, 9½, 13½, 18, 22½, 27, 31, 35½, 40, 44, 48½, 53, 57½, 61½.
4. From the outside wraparound strips that we already marked, take only 1 piece and pencil an X at the following inch measurements for attaching the handles: 2¾, 7¼, 33¼, 37¾.
5. Mark the hole placement for the handle strips. Pencil an X ½ inch from both ends, on both pieces of leather.
6. Place your cutting mat on a flat and sturdy surface. Using the steel punch and a rubber mallet, punch out all the X marks you made, making sure to punch right in the center of the X and checking to make sure that all the X marks are centered on the width of the leather as you go. (This will ensure that the holes line up when you start to rivet the leather strips together.)
7. To build the basket form, start constructing from the bottom up. The inside length strips will sit right at the bottom of the basket. Put them right (or smooth) side down on a large flat surface, spread them about 4½ inches apart from one another. All ends and holes should be in line with one another.
8. Set the inside width strips of leather right side down on top of the inside length strips, starting at the fourth hole down from the left ends of the inside length strips. There should now be 12 holes lined up between the inside length and the inside width strips.
9. Attach the inside length and inside width strips together with 12 rivets, where 2 layers of leather overlap with 2 holes lined up. Start at 1 side and move across the grid, pushing the male rivet down through the 2 layers of leather and connecting it to the female side at the bottom. Use the rivet setter, anvil, and rubber mallet to secure the 2 parts of the rivet together, making sure you use the concave side of the setter and anvil.
10. Once all 12 holes have been riveted together, you can start to form the sides of the basket from the bottom up. Set aside the 1 strip of outside wraparound leather that you added the handle holes; this will be the very top and last strap attached. Starting at the second hole of the outside wraparound (because the first hole will need to wait to get riveted together with the other end), line it up right under the eighth hole from the left, third hole from the right on the top inside width piece of leather. For this whole strip, rivet as you move around the basket, keeping all the inside strips on the inside. This outside wraparound leather will always stay to the outside of the basket. When you get to the final hole, you will need to rivet 3 pieces of leather together; the inside length strip to the 2 ends of the outside wraparound strip.
11. Repeat in the exact same way with the next outside wraparound strip, on the row of holes directly above the strip you just added.
12. Add the final and top outside wraparound strip with the handle holes. Rivet all the holes the same way as you did in step 9, skipping the additional holes you created for the handles as you rivet around the basket.
13. Rivet the handle leather to the inside of the basket with the smooth side of the leather facing out, 1 at a time.
14. If any strips of leather are a little uneven and poking out from behind the top outside wraparound strip, trim them down with scissors.
Finished size: 20 × 18 × 15 inches
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