Designing small accessories may be a meticulous task. It requires special attention to details, and the ability to edit your work and subtract whatever is not absolutely necessary. Add a little too much and the item becomes too clattered.

Printed leather coin purses
Printed leather card holders

Functionality is always important in design (I usually go by the ‘Form Follows Function’ method, in which the item’s aesthetic design derives from the use and function it is meant for). While designing small accessories, elements such as zippers, buckles and buttons, which are required for proper functionality of the item, often have a great influence over the entire design. Add colors and patterns into that equation and you’ll need to start treading lightly, or your design will become messy.

Whenever I turn to designing small accessories, I use other small items as reference. These may include perfume bottles, make-up cases, flowers etc. I choose a reference in order to stay within a certain frame of design elements without spreading too much. The chosen reference stands as inspiration for shapes, colors, patterns, and the overall mood and feel of the items I design.

Printed leather pouches
Printed leather coin pouches

While designing my line of small leather accessories and gadgets, I chose to use lollipops as my reference and inspiration. I saw the collection as colorful, fun, miniature objects, which people carry in their purses, handbags or pockets; Small delights that cheer and brighten up their surroundings whenever people use them;  Items that are small enough to carry anywhere and to use daily – just like a pack of candies.

Slim leather wallets
Men printed leather wallets

Considering functionality, I determined the measurements of each item: the card holders where suited to carry credit cards along with some extra room for coins and folded bills; the triangular pouches are just big enough for small change; and the men wallets are only slightly larger than the size of the cards and bills they are designed to carry, so as to keep them as slim as possible.

Screw back buttons provided a simple solution for closure and their round, shiny heads referred to the candies inspiration as well. Vibrant patterns in small scale gave each item a colorful and fun candy-like appearance, and semi glossy coating completed the look.

Leather coin purses
Printed leather card holders

Having a reference to go to for inspiration is a great way to keep a collection cohesive. It allows you to create a mood and a story that all items tell together as well as apart. It also works well if you only design a single item.

Do you have a tip for designing small accessories? Please share it below.

(Here you can find sewing patterns of the triangle pouch and the slim men wallet).