Friday, June 10, 2016

Leather coin pouch - first time sewing leather

I've found that a coin pouch is almost a necessity in Europe because of the 1 and 2 Euro coins. Even if your wallet has a coin section, it quickly gets filled up - and gets heavy. 

I did not make this lovely pouch - I bought it in Buenos Aires.
My husband's coin pouch has nearly disintegrated after four years of constant use. I'd already repaired holes in it a few times but it's beyond repair now.

This was once a lovely tan pouch of soft leather.
So naturally I thought to sew a new pouch to replace the worn-out one. I never sewed leather before but always intended to, so I already had the necessary tools (of course!). I've included my pictures and process and lessons learned, in the event someone reading this would also like to make a little coin pouch.

I found the leather scrap in the remnant bin of a fabric store in Paris for 1 Euro. I bought a few pieces, but this one is perfectly sized for the small pouch. A Teflon foot is very useful for sewing leather, as are leather needles. I already had a zipper in my stash - longer is just fine. I thought I'd use heavy button thread, but it didn't work (more on that later). I drew up a paper pattern, using the old pouch as a guide. I used a pen to trace the pattern onto the wrong side of the leather.

One more useful tool for sewing leather is double sided, wash-away tape. Mine is by Dritz, but I'm sure there are other brands. The tape is useful for positioning the two pieces of the bag onto the zipper tape. You don't want to use pins because they'll put permanent holes in the leather.

Now about that buttonhole thread. I first did some sample stitching on a leftover scrap and just could not get my tension to work, despite fiddling with the tension on both the needle and the bobbin in various amounts. I tried regular thread in the bobbin only, but that didn't improve things, so I decided that either my machine, or the eye of the needle, couldn't adequately accommodate the thicker thread. Or perhaps the hole in the leather made by the needle was too small. I re-threaded my machine, a Pfaff 7570, with regular thread and got the tension set almost right away. But to me the regular machine sewing thread just seemed too skimpy for the heavy use this coin pouch will get. So I decided to increase the thread thickness by 50% by using two threads through the needle and one in the bobbin. This was easy to do because my machine has a second spindle for such a purpose. After a little adjusting I was happy with the tension and the sewing commenced.

It was actually quite easy to sew the leather. I used a 3.0 mm stitch length, and since my Teflon foot has a space for moving the needle side to side, I took advantage of that and used the edge of the foot as a guide and set the needle set the distance I wanted.

The next step was sewing the bag closed. Since my leather is very soft and not too thick, I decided to stitch it right sides together because I was pretty confident I could turn it inside out. With a thicker leather I'd sew it wrong-sides together.

I used binder clips to hold the leather together - the pin you see is only through the zipper tape. I trimmed the other end of the zipper tape so the stop wouldn't get in the way of the Teflon foot. Also, I started the stitching away from the top edge because I figured it would be next to impossible to start at the zipper edge due to the bulk. Then of course I just went back and sewed up the last bit, starting where I began the stitching. And don't forget to move that zipper pull before you sew, making sure that you can get into the bag to turn it inside out.

I did end up doing a little hand sewing at the zipper ends to secure them. I also trimmed the seam allowance so it would form a nicer curve. But then I feared that I'd trimmed it too close and envisioned coins wearing at the seam and eventually popping out the bottom, so I stitched another line of sewing in the seam allowance. I found it so easy to sew the leather, even in such a narrow space of the trimmed seam allowance (probably 1/8 inch) - there was no shifting at all.

And Voila! One new leather coin pouch.

If I make this pouch again - we'll see how long this one lasts - I would maybe line it. I noticed that the suede finish on the wrong side of the leather had made my hands a little black from handling it so much. I warned my husband about that. The pouch I bought in Buenos Aires has what looks like interfacing on the inside but I wondered if that was because they'd used a thinner leather. I noticed that the top edge where it's attached to the zipper is actually turned under (stitched right side to the zipper). If I'd done that, the seam would have been too bulky. Also, I might make the zipper end a bit neater, although the worn-out pouch was made pretty much the same way. On my Buenos Aires pouch the zipper ends are covered by the interfacing/lining.

All in all, I'd call it a successful first time sewing leather!


  1. Thanks for all the details. Where do men carry all these big coins?

    1. If they don't have a coin pouch then they probably don't carry them for long. I imagine most end up on the dresser.

  2. EXCELLENT! Hope Aaron likes it, but why would he not? - Heather

    1. Aaron does like it and it's already in use, and he's reported that it did not turn his hands or pocket black. Yay!