DIY Leather Bow Keyring

Create a fun DIY project and make one of our cute bow keyrings. Personalise your keyring in your choice of fabric and learn some tips and techniques for sewing with leather. Check out our corresponding YouTube tutorial: DIY: Leather Bow Keyring.

Let’s start by looking at the materials and equipment you will need to create the project. Although we used the sewing machine, you are welcome to sew the keyring by hand should you prefer. It is truly up to you and the equipment you have available. If you have chosen to work with leather you may need a leather hand sewing needle and a thimble.

What materials do you need?
– Fabric (leather scraps, we used a lightweight pig suede)
– Interfacing (optional, depending on fabric choice)
– D Ring 1 1/2″ (40mm)
– Thread

What equipment do you need?
– Sewing Machine
– Chalk, Removable Pen, Pencil, Ball Point Pen (we used a silver leather pen)
– Scissors
– Ruler or  Tape Measure
– Pins or Bulldog, Binder Clips, Wonder Clips
– Iron (not for use on leather)

Firstly think about your fabric choice, if you wish to work with leather we recommend working with a lightweight leather for ease (we are using a pig suede). Other suitable fabrics include cotton, linen and lightweight upholstery fabrics. If you choose to work with a lightweight fabric such as cotton we would recommend interfacing the WRONG side of the fabric.

Start but cutting out a large and small rectangle in the fabric of your choice.

Large Rectangle: width 7″ (17cm), height 3 1/2″ (9cm)
Small Rectangle: width 2″ (5cm), height 1 1/2″ (4cm)

Mark the measurements onto the WRONG side of the fabric using a removable pen or chalk. Cut out the required size for both the large and small rectangles.

If you have chosen to work with leather try using a ball point pen to mark the leather. We used a silver pen which is typical for use on leather, as the silver will show up on most hide colours. As leather is a natural material you must always check the RIGHT side of the leather for marks (such as scars and branding), although we are working from the WRONG side when marking and cutting out, check that you haven’t chosen an area with markings.

Fold the rectangles in half, position the long edges together. Place the RIGHT sides of the fabric or leather together.

Pin your fabric along the long edge of the rectangle. If you are working with leather you do NOT want to pin your fabric. Pin holes will leave marks in the leather. Use bulldog, binder clips or wonder clips to hold the leather together, or work without pins.

Fold the small rectangle in half the same as the larger rectangle. The long edges should meet with the RIGHT sides together.

Stitch down the long edge of the large rectangle, 1/4″ (5mm) away from the edge of the fabric. Sew using a standard stitch length of 2.5mm. Backstitch at either end to secure the stitching.

If you are working with leather you may need to change your needle to a leather needle. The leather needle has a wedge shaped point and will therefore be better at cutting through leather. However some lightweight leathers will work fine with standard sewing machine needles, we are using a 90/14 standard needle. A heavier weight leather will require a larger needle size, or potentially a specific leather needle.

It is also necessary to think about the presser foot on the sewing machine, it can be difficult to feed leather through the sewing machine. Personally we recommend the walking foot, which is our ‘go-to’ foot for sewing difficult fabrics. The walking foot creates a dual feed as it has feed dogs on the bottom of the foot that will help to pull the layers of fabric or leather through the sewing machine.

Another option is to use a Teflon foot (non-stick glide foot). Made from plastic the foot will help glide the leather through the sewing machine and prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the foot. They are often provided with sewing machines, the Husqvarna Emerald 116 that we are working on comes with a non-stick glide foot.

If you don’t have either of the above the next option is to tape the bottom of a standard presser foot with masking tape or sellotape tape. This again will help to improve the feed of the fabric or leather through the machine.

Stitch along the long edge of the small rectangle using a 1/4″ (5mm) seam allowance. Backstitch at the start and end of sewing to secure the seam. If you are working with leather your sewing machine may have difficulty completing the backstitch. If this is a problem simply tie off threads after sewing.

Trim the seam allowances on both the large and small rectangle down to 1/8″ (3mm).

We recommend pressing the seam allowances open if possible. Finger press the seam allowances open or lightly hammer and roll.

Turn both of the rectangles around to the RIGHT side. If you are working with a fabric other than leather you may find you need to use a loop turner to turn the small rectangle around. This can be tricky, but it is possible.

Position the previous stitching line to the centre of the rectangles. Fold the rectangles in half so that the stitching line is on the OUTSIDE of both rectangles.

Position the D Ring onto the larger rectangle. We used a D Ring that measured 1 1/2″ (40mm) in width.

Sew along the raw edges of both the large and small rectangle. Use the same 1/4″ (5mm) seam allowance and standard stitch length of 2.5mm. If you are working with leather the thickness of these layers can be harder to feed through the sewing machine; try using a walking foot, or another option suggested above. You may find that the sewing machine cannot backstitch at the start and end of sewing. Simple tie off the threads after sewing to secure the stitching.

Be sure that the previous rows of stitching, sitting in the centre of the rectangles have the seam allowances open as you sew over them. Ideally you want the seams from both sides to sit directly on top of one another. Hold, pin or use bulldog, wonder clips to position.

Trim threads.

Trim seam allowances to 1/8″ (3mm) on both rectangles. Press the seam allowances open with an iron, or fingers press, hammer or roll if working with leather.

Turn the large rectangle around to hide the previous stitching.

Position the D Ring so that the flat edge of the D Ring sits inside the rectangle. Place the previous row of stitching so that it is at the centre of the back of the rectangle.

Turn the small rectangle around to hide the previous seam. Place the seam at the centre of the back.

Once you are happy with the position of the seam and the D Ring on the large rectangle. Fold the large rectangle into a concertina at one end.

Push the small rectangle onto the larger rectangle. This is difficult to complete to start with, gradually work the small rectangle onto the larger one, until you are happy with the placement.

The small rectangle should hide the central seam allowance of the larger rectangle. The seam allowance of the small rectangle should be at the back, out of view. Work with the bow to achieve the desired shape.

Congratulations you have made your very own bow keyring and hopefully learnt some new tips and techniques along the way. Feel free to share your makes with us on Facebook and Instagram.