12 Days of Handmade Gifts: Day FOUR, Caila from Caila Made
Hello lovely Sew Caroline readers! I’m pinching myself right now because I can’t believe I’m here today! I’ve admired Caroline and all the beautiful things she sews for a looong time, and it’s such an honor to be sharing something handmade for the holidays with you today. Yay!
My name is Caila and I blog about kids, sewing, and crafting over at CailaMade. My first love is sewing kids clothing, but sometimes I like to sew my man a little something, too. Men aren’t as easy to sew for as kids (they might not want to wear that flannel we picked out after all), but I think sewing for them can be even more satisfying when we get it right. It just takes a little more thought.
Speaking of thought, my good friend Cassie and I were chatting the other day about the perfect leather gift for our husbands. After No Shave November her husband is sporting a pretty spectacular beard, and she wants him to have a cool case for his mustache comb. You know what a mustache comb is, right? It’s that little black rectangular comb that all men seem to have, even if they never use it. Case in point, I didn’t think my husband had one and then he pulled it out of his travel bag. Of course. Not everyone calls it a mustache comb (hair comb is the other alternative) but for our sake today, and because it’s more interesting, let’s go with mustache comb.
Anyway, Cassie wanted a mustache comb case for her husband and then we had the epiphany: What if we put a mustache ON THE MUSTACHE COMB CASE? OMG we just made history. (Not really, because mustaches are on everything right now, but sometimes it’s fun to go with the trends).
And that’s how the idea for the Mustache Comb Case was born! I’m on a mission to fill my husband’s travel bag with handmade stuff, and this has put me one step closer. And since the teeth are always breaking off these combs, the case serves two purposes: it looks awesome, AND it keeps the comb intact. Win win.
Would you like to know how to make your own? Perfect, I’d love to show you!
Mustache Comb Case Tutorial
Two pieces of scrap leather for the front and back pieces
One piece of scrap leather in a contrasting color for the mustache
Thread (heavy duty or all purpose thread will both work)
A sewing machine
Leather needle for your sewing machine (purely optional for a small project like this).
Medium: For a 2″ by 5″ comb cut two pieces of leather measuring 3″ by 5.75″.
Small: For a 1″ by 4″ comb cut two pieces of leather measuring 2.25″ by 5.25″.
For any other size comb, simply measure and add at least 1″ to the width and length of the comb to find your cutting measurements. Read to the bottom for more details on this.
FYI, I cut leather using a clear ruler and my rotary cutter on a cutting mat. It’s like cutting butter.
STEP ONE: Cut out the mustache
Now that you have your front and back pieces, it’s time to cut out the mustache. I used this free printable to trace my mustache onto the leather. Simply print the image, cut it out and trace it onto the leather with a disappearing ink pen. Then, cut around it with a pair of small, sharp scissors.
STEP TWO: Glue the mustache
Step two is pretty fun. This is where the Tacky Glue comes in! I’m sure there are all kinds of glue that will work (leather glue, for example) but I just grabbed what was on hand and it worked great.
Dab some glue in dots on the back side of your leather mustache. Don’t add too much or it will squish out the sides and mess up the front of your comb case.
Center the mustache carefully on the front piece of leather and press it down. Make sure the whole mustache has been pressed down evenly. Let it dry for at least 20 minutes so your sewing machine doesn’t pick up any sticky residue when you sew over the mustache.
STEP THREE: Sew the Mustache
Once the glue is fully dry, it’s time to start sewing. Set your machine stitch to a longer length than you usually use. I stitch most things with a 2.8 stitch length and regular thread, but for these I used a 4.0 stitch length with heavy duty thread. Do not backstitch at the beginning or end of your seam, and leave a long tail of thread at the beginning and end so you can tie off when you’re finished.
Align your needle so it’s just inside the mustache edge and stitch around the mustache, going slowly at the curves. I suggest using a thread that matches exactly so that any wobbly stitches are hidden. Those curves are tough to sew!
When you are finished topstitching the mustache, pull all the threads to the back and tie them off. In the photo below you can see that my stitches aren’t perfect, but it’s almost impossible to tell on the front.
STEP FOUR: Put it all together
Place your front and back pieces so that their wrong sides are facing each other and their right sides are facing out.
Using the comb, trace a curved line along the bottom two corners, 1/2″ in from the edge. (Ignore my line of stitching on the right side! I got that far and realized I forgot to trace my lines).
Sewing a curved line can be very difficult on leather, which is why I suggest that you trace the curve first and then follow it with your needle. I use a silver fabric pencil so that the line is barely visible and easy to rub off.
Now secure your pieces together with these cool paper clamps. (Do not use pins, because they will leave permanent holes in the leather!)
Stitch around the three edges of the leather, following the curved line you traced at the short end. Do not back stitch, and make sure to leave long tails of thread to tie off. Again, I used a 4.0 stitch length and heavy duty thread.
Once you’re done stitching the front and back together, pull all threads to the back and tie off. Trim your seam allowances down to about 1/8″ on the three sides, and round off the corners.
If you would like more tips for working with leather, read my post on how to make a leather glasses case (I include a whole list of tips). For more leather projects to sew on your home sewing machine, you might be interested in these travel bags for men, or these leather card holders. Maybe you will impress your husband with some handmade leather goods for Christmas this year!
One more helpful tip: If you’re working with a comb size that I didn’t specify here, I suggest making a trial case before cutting into your leather. Here is what my first attempt looked like:
And for reference, here is the small comb in relation to the front and back pieces for the small case:
If you’re looking for places to buy leather, I have some suggestions in this post. This Etsy seller offers scrap packs of leather, and I love to buy these for variety. Otherwise, you can check your local Jo-ann’s for leather pieces. They are usually kept along the wall with the feathers and felt. The thrift store is another great option. However, leather that has been pulled from handbags and other accessories is usually treated with some kind of interfacing or glue, so you aren’t likely to get a piece of leather that is nice on both sides. Just keep that in mind while purchasing leather items from a thrift store!
I love these mustache comb cases! And seriously, how awesome is my husband for posing in these pictures for me?? Love him.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and feel brave enough to try sewing with leather! If you want to try on a less scary (read: expensive) substrate, try wool felt. I bet my son would LOVE one of these cases made out of felt.
If you’d like to see more of my projects, please visit me at CailaMade, or like my page on Facebook. I would love to become friends! Thank you for having me today, Caroline!