MAKE YOUR OWN LEATHER TRAVEL TAG

Back in January I remember seeing an Anthropologie blog post where they were monograming denim. I thought it was a neat idea, in spite of my total dislike for the business of sewing stuff to your jeans and indeed more generally writing on clothes (there are of course some exceptions – I wouldn’t kick a Bella Freud sweater out of bed). But the idea of this discreet personalisation by a ticket pocket got me thinking.

Meantime inherited from my mother, I have a pretty ancient but much loved trunk which has, for the last fifty-odd years, managed to hold onto, through many several house moves, a wonkily hand-typed luggage label that once upon a time promised its safe arrival in Sweden. It could not be further from something glamorous, yet is a thousand times more evocative of life and travel than a LV monogrammed label could ever be.

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Naming your possessions is practical but not often very stylish. But these playful luggage and bag tags have a little fun with the idea. They’re not complicated to make and with some simple personalisation they’re a super-duper gift for young jet setters.

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Some off-cuts of leather
Sharp scissors and a craft knife with a sharp blade
A metal ruler
A cutting mat
A sewing machine or leather needle and thread
Stamps or Letraset or some good drawing pens or an alphabet stencil
Mount board card or heavy-ish weight card
A hole punch
A little fabric glue or double-sided tape
A key ring
A pet collar tag (optional decoration)
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There is no set rule for the size of the luggage tag. I worked with different proportions depending on what was written or printed on the card label. But each does need to be made from a length that can be folded in half; with a window cut in one side; and both ends need to be hole punched to match up when the leather is folded over.

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  1. Take your off-cut of leather. Make sure it’s not too thick to fit in the hole punch.
  2. Cut a rectangle, using your cutting mat, craft knife and metal ruler. The finish will be better using a craft knife, but you can use sharp fabric scissors if you don’t have one.
  3. Fold the rectangle in half and mark out a window to cut out from one half of the leather. You will need to allow a border down each of the long sides for sewing (I’d suggest 5mm from the edge) and then think that the label card needs to sit under the leather around the edge of the window to hold it in place, so allow for this too.
  4. Next, punch corresponding holes at either short end of the rectangle of leather. When the rectangle is folded in half the punched holes need to match up.
  5. Use a little line of glue down each of the long sides to hold the leather in place when sewing.
  6. Test your sewing machine on two small bits back to back of the same leather. Make sure your machine’s tension is right for the leather. Sew a straight line down each of the long sides about 5mm from the edge. HANDY TIP: if you find your stitches are not catching properly and skipping, take a piece of thin paper (origami paper is ideal) and put this on top of the leather. It will help control the stitches and you just peel it off either side, along the needle perforations when you’ve finished, leaving perfect sewing underneath). If you don’t have a sewing machine, don’t despair, my early versions of this were rustic with a hand-stitched blanket stitch, and looked just great.
  7. Once you have tried and tested monogramming or name printing for this label, take a piece of card and create your final name within a space a little smaller than the cut-out window in your leather.
  8. Cut to size so that the card fits snugly between the sewn sides of the leather tag.
  9. Gently insert it into the leather tag. Make sure the card is not seen at the hole punched hole.
  10. Loop on the key ring and any other accessories you may like to add.
  11. If you want to increase the longevity of the label, slide in a small piece of acetate between the leather and the monogrammed/named card.

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Photography & styling: Ruth Howes

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