Leather Crafting Tutorial

Leather crafting is one of the most ancient crafts that have been known to mankind. The art of leather crafting can be dated back to 400,000 years ago, where some evidence of hide working and tanning could be found. The earliest confirmed leather tanning tool dates back to 5,000 BC. The earliest Awl was reported to be made out of bones and goes back to almost 80,000 years ago. Awl is one of the most basic leather working tools that we will learn more about in detail.  

During the Stone Age, leather was primarily and to the most extent, solely used for clothing. Leather was tanned and used to make footwear, headwear and sometimes even shelter. In the Bronze Age, we saw leather being used as clothing but also in combat shielding. In the Iron Age, jewellery and adornments were made with leather. It is thought that at this time leather was seen as luxury and was only affordable to higher class citizens or royalty.  

Leather was used in many ways throughout the history of mankind and different cultures have shown evidence of using leather in various ways. We have chosen a nice faux-leather for you to practice and hone your skills on with tools that are used for crafting genuine leather. The look and feel of our selection are quite similar to what genuine would feel like. Although, our piece is much lighter and suitable for handmade crafts such as totes and pouches. We have a tutorial coming up for a nifty little wallet that will give you an understanding of all the tools.  

Before we can start making the project. Let’s go through all the tools and their uses. 

1) Stitching needles: Different crafts require different types of needles. For leather stitching specifically we require thicker dull needles that would allow us to penetrate thicker pieces of leather. The needles are dull since you would almost always create sewing holes in leather before putting a needle through it. The eye of a leather working needle has to be larger to allow for thicker and waxed threads to pass through. Depending upon the application, you can use straight or curved needles.  

2) Waxed threads: We provided waxed threads in 3 different colours that are ecru, black and coffee. Synthetic threads like ours last longer and are durable. Threads are waxed to make them stiffer and water resistant while increasing their durability.  

3) Cutting knife: This iconic craft cutting knife is a great all-around tool for your craft station. For leather craft particularly, it is an essential tool to cut all sorts of things and thick leather hides. As you will notice that we have to make several precise cuts to make anything with leather.  

4) Hook/Jerk needle Awl: This tool is often used by shoe makers that work with heavier pieces of leather and thicker threads. The hook like groove helps to hold the threads and pull it through the leather.  

5) Scratch Awl: This is the most basic type of Awl and also the most fundamental. These have a wooden handle and a pointy needle that is used to poke sewing holes in a piece of leather.

5) Sewing Awls: these can be used to hand saw a piece of leather. This is useful for bigger projects with thicker and heavier leather and threads. It is a nice to have but for our leather we would be fine with a scratch awl and needles.  

6) Groover: An Adjustable that is used to groove a line on the surface of the leather piece. These grooves can be used to mark stitching lines or can be for design purposes.  

 

7) Pricking wheel: These are sharp spiky pins on a rotary tool that are used to mark stitching holes with consistent spacing.  

Now that you have an idea of what our tools are. Let’s go ahead and get started with our project.  

Welcome to your first ever Hby box experience.  

We hope that you enjoy it. If you feel that we could do better then please do let us know. Help us make your experience better. Thank you for supporting our small business. 

Lay your leather sheet flat and use the template to cut out the necessary pieces that are outlined. Refer to the Template to know which lines are supposed to be cut and which lines are meant to be stitching lines or folding lines.  

We started by using a ruler and a scratch Awl to outline the piece of leather that needs to be cut out. Then by using a craft knife, follow the groove and cut off the piece of leather  

  

The folding lines indicate the point at which we will fold the flap inwards.  

Do not cut the folding lines or the stitching lines.  

Once we have the piece cut out. We can then use the groover to groove a stitching line before we poke stitching holes. Adjust the groover by rotating its wheel to loosen or tighten the vertical L shaped guide bar in place.

For heavier and thicker leather this step is more useful both functionally and stylistically. Alternatively, you can mark a stitching using a scratch Awl and a ruler to make grooves. 

It is always a good idea to hem the edges of faux-leather like the ones we have, since it is not very thick. Heavier leather has different processes for edge finishes. 

Using the pricking wheel, mark sewing holes on the stitching lines. Then optionally, using an Awl punch the sewing holes by pushing the Awl through the marked holes. Remember, leather is a tough material and while faux-leather is much more pliable, it can still be difficult to poke and push through sewing holes with a needle. It is necessary to punch sewing holes through the leather.  

Then fold inwards about quarter to half of an inch on both short sides for hemming the edges. Then repeat the step above to mark and punch sewing holes.  

Now for the stitching, cut off about a good 15-20 inches of your pre-waxed threads. Pick two thinner needles and thread them on both ends of the piece of thread you just cut off.  

We are going to saddle stitch our leather using a technique that does not require a saddle pony.  

If you have craft glue around you can glue the hems and use the clips to let it dry to make the process a little easier but this is an optional step. You could just use the binder clips to have some help.  

To start the stitching process, insert both needles in the first two holes from the same side.  

 

Then from the other side, take the needle in the former position (the 1st hole, left hole in the picture) and pass it through the position of the latter needle (the 2nd hole, the hole on right in the picture). While passing the former needle ensure that you hold the latter thread tightly for a tight seam.  

  

Then hold the needle you just passed through with and pass it through the next empty sewing hole. Now our former needle is ahead and is in the latter position. Repeat the process with the needle that is in the former position.  

 

Repeat the process until you reach the final two sewing holes. Instead of the repeating the saddle stitch process. Tie off the thread in the last holes on the same side. Then either cut of the excess thread and leave it be. Or alternatively, you can cut the threads off and burn the frayed edge with a lighter.  

Take a moment and appreciate the craftsmanship that you have shown. The stitching looks beautiful.  

Now for the final stitching steps: Fold the flap inwards across the folding line and use the clips to lock it in place.

Prepare a piece of thread with needles on both ends just like during the hemming step.

Pick the last 2 holes at the end of the piece near the fold and saddle stitch the whole line.  

Do the 3 steps above for all 4 stitching lines and tie of the ends.  

There you have it your first small card hand crafted leather holder. It looks wonderful! Take a picture of your masterpiece and share it with us on Instagram. Tag us @hbybox. We are so excited to see what you have done.  

You aren’t done yet though. See all the extra leather, thread and blank cardstock? We want you to make your own design and sew something yourself. If you want an idea? The leather you have is perfect for a tote bag. From strap to the bag itself.  

During the whole process if you make a mistake do not get discouraged. The project in the guide is for you to practice. Keep going and do not be afraid to improvise.  

Thank you for buying your Hbybox kit. We are so excited to have you with us on our debut box. Please spread the word around so others can be aware of our boxes.  

Leave a review on our website and tell us what you liked and what you did not like. We have just started our boxes and we will keep working to improve your experience.