|Time required||Complexity||Tools & Supplies|
Common for leathercraft
Make a splash with our latest leathercraft tutorial!
In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a charming humpback whale bag charm using veg tan calfskin leather. Building upon the success of our previous tutorials on the fox, raccoon, dolphin, and manta ray bag charms, this one is sure to be just as exciting and captivating.
Whether you’re an experienced leathercrafter or a beginner looking to try something new, this tutorial is perfect for you. With our step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to create an elegant and playful accessory that will add a unique touch to any bag.
So, grab your tools, get your veg tan calfskin ready, and let’s dive into making this charming humpback whale bag charm!
- 1mm stitching prong
- Scissors or X-Acto knife
- Applicator for the dye
- 2 leather stitching needles
- Hammer or mallet
- Edge slicker
- Cotton rag
Bill of Materials
- 2/3 oz veg tanned calfskin
- 1 key-ring
- Leather dyes
- Leather finishing product
- Leather glue
- Polyester stuffing
The pattern PDF is available for purchase on etsy.
Printing and cutting the pattern
You can get the pattern here if you haven’t already.
Print it on US letter or A4 paper depending on the version you downloaded and cut-out the pieces of the project.
Make sure that the pattern is not resized by checking your print settings. You can check if it was printed properly by measuring the reference found at the bottom of each page.
Keep the assembly diagram to help you position the pieces later on during the stitching process.
Print on card-stock paper to make it easier to trace the shape on the leather.
Tracing the outline of the pattern onto the leather
Using an awl, trace the outline of the pattern pieces onto the leather.
The fins (D) have to be traced twice as one side is a mirrored version of the other. For the left one, turn the pattern element over to mirror the piece the second time you trace it.
Don’t forget to mark the positions of the holes that we will need to punch through later on.
The belly (A’) is a bit of a special case as you’ll have to trace the ventral pleats.
In order to do so, dampen your piece of leather and lay the pattern on top of it secured with tape.
Trace over the lines of the pattern with a pen, remove it and make another pass with a fine stylus in order to deepen the groves.
Punching the stitching holes
Use stitching prongs or a hole punch to punch the stitching holes for all the pieces using the marks that you left earlier as a guide to position them.
Cutting-out the pieces of the project
Using a pair of scissors or an X-Acto knife, cut-out all the pieces of the project .
Dyeing the leather
Dyeing can be achieved through different methods. I will refer you to this Youtube Playlist in order to learn more about the subject from much more qualified craftsmen than I am.
For this project I used a mix of dark blue and white to create a nice contrast between the underbelly and the upper body of the whale.
Once the leather is completely dry, apply a coat of oil to re-hydrate it and protect the dye..
Try to be swift in your motions once the oil is on the leather to avoid creating darker spots. If this happens not to worry though, just leave it half an hour under the sun (rough side up so that the top grain doesn’t tan). The heat will help the oil spread out evenly in the fibers of the leather.
Burnishing the edges
Burnish all the edges using the method of your choice.
I usually apply some tokonole to the edge and use a wood edge slicker to create the friction necessary for burnishing.
Never apply too much pressure on the edge during this operation. Indeed we want to prevent any mushrooming from happening especially when the edge is damp. It’s all about speed and friction to create heat, not pressure.
Stitching it all together
Start by stitching the key-ring tab (C) and the fluke (B) between both pieces of the whale’s body (A and A’).
Stitch-in the left fin as you progress along the edge.
Add some stuffing as you close the whale’s body.
Finally stitch in the right fin and close the body. Congrats, you made it!
Apply the conditioning product of your choice on your creation and rub vigorously with a cotton rag to polish it and give it a nice shine.
I use a leather balm that I make by gently melting together “au bain-marie” 1 part beeswax and 6 parts olive oil. It’s great for nourishing and waterproofing.
I hope you enjoyed following along this tutorial. Please consider posting a photo of your creation in the comments below. It would mean a lot to me to see my little projects out into the world as you make it your own.
Any feedback/question about this tutorial or project idea that you’d like to see posted here is and always will be more than welcome.
The following online content provided some assistance and/or inspiration during the making of this project: