Leather can be a good material to make something low-cost that looks upscale. Leatherwork crafts are also great projects to create last-minute gifts.
In order to start, you’ll need a few tools that can either be borrowed or purchased for a small amount of money.
You don’t need any prior experience with leather crafting to follow these tutorials – just a few basic tools and supplies that you can find in almost any craft store.
Tools You Need
To make a leather project, you’ll probably need a design. Cutting leather requires an X-acto knife (with a #2 blade) or sharp, box cutting tool. For creating holes in the leather, you can either use stitching chisels or, in a pinch, a sharp fork or the tip of a leather needle.
A decent set of four Weaver stitching chisels can be found for $20. If you want to spend even less, a passable set costs $12. Needles for stitching leather are thicker and stronger than the average thread needle, so don’t try to do these projects last minute without the appropriate ones on hand. Wax thread is also good for binding together the sinewy pieces of leather.
You may also need some other tools you can find around the house, like a cutting pad, cork-backed metal ruler and 1.5 pound mallet. Fine sandpaper comes in handy to finish edges.
When you’re just starting out, practice on cheap leather. If you’re planning to give these projects as gifts, you may want to create one with scrap pieces and then redo it with a more expensive material. To practice, Corter leather recommends getting the cheapest option in the type of leather material you want to work in.
Project #1: Leather Wallet
Wallets are a popular leathercraft project and for good reason. They’re functional and easy to personalize with different colors, stitching patterns, and embellishments.
A simple one can be made in less than an hour. It’s also a great way to use up small leather scraps.
Supplies And Instructions
You'll need a piece of leather, cut to size (3 by 5 inches), a snap closure, leather punch, a ruler or measuring tape, a pencil or pen, embroidery floss or thread (optional), and a needle (optional).
Start by cutting your piece of leather to size. Next, use a leather punch (or any sharp object) to make two holes at the top of the leather, about half an inch from the edge. Now it's time to add the snap closure - attach one-half of the snap to the wrong side of the leather using a needle and thread (or you can use a hot glue gun if you're in a hurry). Then, put the other half of the snap through the holes from the front side and secure it on the back with more thread or hot glue. Now your wallet is complete! If you want, you can embellish it further by stitching a design on the front or back.
If you find a wallet tough to make, you can always consider getting a professionally-made long leather wallet.
Project #2: Checkbook Cover
Another great leather beginner project is a checkbook covers. These make wonderful gifts for anyone who still uses paper checks (or maybe you just want to help them get rid of that unsightly plastic checkbook cover from the bank).
They’re quick and easy to make, and you can personalize them with colors and designs to suit the recipient’s taste. You'll need leather, scissors, a ruler or measuring tape, a pencil or pen, an awl, a leather punch, and a needle and thread.
Start by measuring the leather to fit the dimensions of the checkbook. Add an extra 1/4 inch to each side to allow for seam allowance. Cut the leather using sharp scissors.
If you want to add any embellishments to the cover, use an awl or leather punch to make holes. You can also skip this step if you want a simpler design.
To finish the edges of the leather, you can either sew them with a leather needle and thread or use adhesive. If you're using adhesive, make sure to choose one that will work with leather.
For a more polished look, you can also add a snap closure to keep the cover closed when not in use.
Project #3: Key Fob
Another great beginner leather craft project is a key fob. To make a key fob, you’ll need a strip of leather, about 1-inch wide and 6-inches long, a key ring, a snap fastener, leather adhesive or super glue, scissors, and a ruler or measuring tape.
Cut your strip of leather to the desired length.
Apply adhesive to one end of the strip and attach it to the key ring.
Fold the strip in half, longways, and press it together.
Measure 1 inch from the end of the strip and mark with a pencil or pen. This is where you’ll attach the snap fastener.
Apply adhesive to the back side of one half of the snap fastener and attach it at the mark.
Repeat the last step for the other half of the snap fastener on the opposite side of the key fob.
Trim any excess leather from the ends of the key fob, if desired.