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The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: March 25, 2015

Submitted by on March 25, 2015 – 12:25 PM10 Comments


I was hoping some of your readers are crafty or sew-y. I have a laptop sleeve.

It's made out of leather, with fabric as the inner lining, and some sort of very stiff cardboard in the middle, to give it shape. It has an outer pocket that goes three quarters of the way up the sleeve, made of leather. I was hoping I could install snaps or something along the edge of the outer pocket, so I could, you know, use it without my papers falling out. But my local seamstress said it would be impossible to sew a snap or zipper along the edge of the pocket because the case is too thick. So I'm out of ideas. Assuming I can't sew anything through the fabric, what other options are there? Are there some sort of snaps with backings that can punch through thick fabric? Am I stuck with adhesive velcro? Will I have to rip the lining of the case?

The new ones come with built-in zippers. Of COURSE they do.

Dear Zippers,

Two words: glue gun. Any reasonably crafty friend will have one you can borrow. Readers?

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  • DawnG says:

    Try a local shoe repair shop – they may be able to help with a solution, especially since they have the tools needed to work with leather and other thick materials. They may be able to put a zipper in, which seems to be your first preference. At the very least they should have a tool to put grommets in shoes (the holes laces go through), which is usually the same type of tool used to install snaps.

  • Nanc says:

    Hie thee to the sewing/craft store and ask for high-grade peel and stick velcro strips! You could also add a bit of leather glue for extra hold but a good peel and stick velcro will last. If you're uncomfortable about doing it yourself, check with your local shoe repair shop and see if they'll do it for you.

  • LG says:

    There ARE purse closures that punch through fabric! I haven't ever used them with leather but they little wings are pretty sharp. And if they don't punch through on their own, I think very careful deployment of an exacto knife to start the hole would work. Be careful!

    I've used magnetic purse snaps in the past, like this:

    I'm not sure, though, if we're still supposed to avoid getting magnets near our devices. In which case something like this might be better. Or you could put in a couple of smaller ones if they exist.

    One thing to think about when you're putting these in is whether the back will show. Normally you'd put them in the lining and then the outside fabric would cover up the back (where the little wings fold over each other) but since your bag is already constructed, I'm not sure how it would work. If the back parts have any scratchy areas maybe you could glue some felt over or something so it wouldn't scratch anything you're keeping in the bag. Or perhaps the seamstress would have better suggestions.

    Good luck!

  • Lori in Houston says:

    Go to a shoe repair shop. They have special machines that can sew through multiple layers of leather. I'm sure they can do whatever you want.

  • sue says:

    If you feel crafty yourself, you can buy a leather punch and grommets at craft stores – talk to someone or bring it in with you for best results. Probably better to avoid magnetic but there's so many different types of fasteners.

    Otherwise, I'd head for the shoe repair place too.

  • SorchaRei says:

    Manual rivet gun and this kind of snap. A rivet gun is about $30 or so.

    The suggestion about going to a cobbler is also outstanding, as they have all kinds of machines that can deal with leather. They may even have a rivet gun, although probably not a manual one. If so, they will likely have the snap parts, too.

  • MizShrew says:

    If you go the glue route, try the E6000 stuff. It's more industrial-strength that the glue gun stick glue, I think. And it says it works on lots of materials, including metal and leather.

    But I think someone with a grommet tool might get you a sturdier result. You can buy those tools, but I think for one project you'd be better off heading to a shoe repair place. And if the backside of the snap shows, then maybe glue a little bling decoration over that if that's your thing.

  • Jo says:

    Definitely go to a shoe or boot repair store.

  • Elizabeth T says:

    What about some kind of wide strap to wrap around it – either elasticized or velcroized, or even with a snap.

  • Krista says:

    Leather awl (not expensive) if you want to do it yourself. Otherwise shoe repair!

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