April 8, 2014

DIY Magic Braid Leather Keychain

I've become (re)obsessed with a stash of metallic leather I had in my craft supplies. (While the exact pack is no longer available, I've linked to other options below.) It started last year with my DIY leather business card holders, then my DIY leather iPhone case a few weeks ago, and now? Cute keychains using own of my favorite DIY tricks, the magic braid. The reason this braid is magical is because you can braid a single piece of leather without any loose ends, and once you work out all the looping, you're left with a braid. With these keychains, my bag is now filled with metallic leather accessories!

Tools and materials
Metallic leather, cut to a piece 1 inch wide and at least 7 inches long (longer for a longer keychain loop)
Craft knife and scissors
Cutting mat
Rivets (with a hammer, setter and anvil)
Key ring

Measure across the wrong (back) side of the leather, marking intervals 1/3 of an inch from the long sides. Draw lines to connect your measurements, stopping 1/2 inch before on end of the strip of leather and 1 inch from the other end.

Use the ruler and knife to cut along your lines, remembering to stop at least 1/2 an inch from one end and 1 inch from the other.

To make the braid, I followed these instructions from Martha Stewart. It might take a few tries, but you should get the hang of it eventually. More tips on the braid, check out the note at the end of the post. 

Once you finished your braid, get it wet and pull gently on either end and shape them with your fingers to help the strands lay flat. Let dry. At this time, I also rounded the corners by cutting with scissors.

After it's dried, take the leather, fold so that the short end comes to 1/2 and inch from the longer end, and mark where you will cut the holes for the rivet. You'll cut three holes so the rivet goes through the long end (about 3/4 an inch from the edge of the leather), through the short end, and then back through the folded over long end (which creates the loop for the ring). Set the rivet with a hammer and/or the setter and anvil. Taper the leather loop by cutting with scissors, if you'd like.

Pass the key ring through the loop, add your keys, and enjoy!

Note: The braid took some practice to get the hang of, but here are my tricks for making it work. If your leather seems too short and you have some of cut strands still unbraided but not quite enough to compete another loop and braid, try tightening braid, starting from the top and creating more slack to work with for your final pull-throughs. Leather can stretch when wet, so try running it under water and pulling to create more slack if it's too tight. The wider (and thicker) the leather strands being braided, the shorter the braid will be. First cutting your leather strip down to just under an inch and then dividing that into three equal strands can help. Finally, while I made my keychains with a 7 inch long piece of leather, something a bit longer might give you some more wiggle room.


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