Monday, February 29, 2016

Handcrafted liquor bottle

Anyone who knows my boyfriend knows he loooooves his liquor.

When we were snowed in for four days last month, his favorite pastime rapidly became inventing new mixed drinks and forcing me to take a shot of each one. His goal (yes, a thing he actually anticipated eagerly) for his last birthday party was to drink until he puked (fortunately for all of us, he didn't succeed).

But anyway, if it involves alcohol, it's pretty much guaranteed to be a winner with him.

So when I found this gift box of a hip flask and two steel shot glasses on Choxi, I knew that was a Valentine's Day gift with his name on it. Except, it didn't actually have his name on it!
Having seen plenty of decorative flasks in the world, I knew this plain steel one wasn't quite enough. So I decided to monogram it for him with my Dremel! 
Fortunately, a week before V-Day, I came to my senses and realized that I've never engraved metal before, and my first attempt probably shouldn't be on someone else's gift.
So what could I do to personalize the bottle? Some of the flasks I've seen have been wrapped in little sleeves (like the one to the left, except, camouflage? Really?), so I decided I'd make one of those and put the monogram on that! That way if I messed up, the bottle would still be unscathed.

To make the sleeve, I used an old suede coat that was gifted to us by a former housemate. It was too big for Al, and a little worn and stained, so I didn't feel too bad cutting off the end of one sleeve.

I thought the buttons at the end of the sleeve would make a great accent!

I was just not sure how I was going to make this soft leather conform to the concave side of the bottle without gluing it on (and I didn't want to do that because it would make washing the bottle nearly impossible), so finally I decided I'd give the sleeve a bottom, which would help it keep its convex shape down there, and then just allow the top to take whatever shape it will.

Lots of measuring ensued. I measured and drew and wrapped and re-wrapped, and tried to get the slightly angled scrap of leather to line up parallel to the top of the bottle, and...I don't even want to describe how much work that was.

Creating the bottom was relatively easy, as I just traced around the bottom of the bottle. But then attaching the bottom to the rest of the sleeve was torture! The leather was too thick for me to push a needle through, so I had to run it through the sewing machine, laboriously hand-cranking it stitch by stitch and then repositioning everything to ensure the curve was sewn right. At first, I attached the wrong sides together, so the seam would be on the outside, so I had to take it all apart and re-sew. Then, even after carefully examining the pieces and putting them back together, I made the same mistake! 
The third time, I finally attached the pieces the right way, but there was so much curvature and so much leather bunched up under my machine, I couldn't quite sew the short sides neatly at all. In the end, I got a rather sloppy looking sewn seam at one edge, and glued the remaining pieces together at the other.
<--Don't try this at home, kids!

Things got a little hairy at this point, since it was approximately the day before Valentine's Day. I am absolutely certain I took some photos at this point, but I can't find them now. Anyway...
I had positioned the top layer of leather so I could use the original buttonholes, but I needed to move the actual buttons. More slow hand-cranking of the sewing machine got this accomplished. Since the leather around the buttonholes is so thick, I used a toothpick to separate the button from the leather below it and create shank. The buttons are sewn with love and actually functional; however, it's easier just to slide the sleeve on and off the flask without touching the buttons.

The last steps were just a few strategically placed drops of glue to keep the whole thing together!

I finished the whole project the day before Valentine's Day, boxed it up in the original packaging, and wrote some sappy notes on it (fortunately I forgot to take pictures of those!) On the weekend of its arrival, my boyfriend proceeded to carry the flask with him to get his taxes done and drank from it every night whilst watching TV, which I guess means he likes it. One of my rare (these days) non-clothing crafting projects, and it was a success! Phew!
Here it is in its place of honor on our liquor shelf