UpCycled and Painted Leather Pouches

Aren’t projects that require less tools and notions more rewarding sometimes? I am almost embarrassed at how easy these are, but the painting takes them over the top. Yes, I hear you say that you can’t paint; but it’s very very simple and does not need to be perfect. Basic beginner sewing skills are all you need. For Canada’s birthday and as souvenirs I brought these UpCycled and Painted Leather Pouches to europe they were quite the hit (not to mention how inexpensive they are)

You will need:

  • an old leather garment
  • Acrylic paint (white, yellow & red) and small/thin brushes
  • sewing machine (or hand sewn if desired) & thread
  • scissors or rotary cutter & straight edge

The Leather:

I blame my mother… She did such a great job of making me aware of being wasteful since she lived through a time when there was nothing, and she was super handy making something out of anything.

Garment (coat, skirt, pant) leather is great since it is lightweight enough to be sewn with the average sewing machine. The other great fact is that smooth shiny leather is actually suede on the other side. You can peek inside a coat lining and see the backing.

Another fault of mine is that I LOVE my vintage sewing machines! Yes, I said ‘machines’ because I have a bit of a collection… (I need backup ones if one breaks down or needs parts) All metal and reliable, like the muscle cars of the past!

They handle the weight of the leather quite well. If the leather is quite ‘grippy’ and does not want to slide nicely, there are a few options. I sometimes just put a bit of talcum powder on the seam line with my finger (keep a little dish nearby). Another option is to use a rolling foot/walking foot for the machine. I have heard that some people put some ‘magic-tape’ on the bottom of the presser foot. Make sure that there is not too much pressure on the foot as well.

I have not included patterns as these were just made at whatever size of pieces I had. They are simple ‘envelope’ styles with fold over tops. Seams can be edged with a stitch pattern or just left simple. They are supposed to look hand-made so don’t fret about being so perfect (do cut nicely though)


The Painting:

I love our maple leaf as it appears on our flag. Canada is known for the great fall colours (and maple syrup) thanks to the maple leaves.


The suede side of the leather works perfectly at adhering the acrylic paint. It absorbs into it and will not chip off as it also flexible (artist grade paints are usually better quality). Paint the maple leaf shape in solid white as the background canvas since the leather is dark.

Look at some images of leaves as reference and add yellow to centre sections of the leaves.

Add some red around the outside and blend it in. It is quite forgiving as they are never perfect leaves.

It can be wet paint into wet paint (wet-on-wet; artist term). Relax…

Take a fine brush and add some veins… tada! Looks like a leaf!

The Closures:

I hate fussing too much so I made simple closures that are rustic as well. The thicker square of leather is the ‘button’ (or use an old rustic button). As a loop I cut some thin strips and poked a hole and tied a loop. 

You can also take a hole punch (possibly a paper one if your leather is thin enough) and make a few holes to make a drawstring. So many options as well with using some stitch patterns if you desire.

I don’t know why I like these so much… maybe because the colours are so ‘complimentary’ ( colour theory) 

With one garment you could make very very many, which could be great for a fund raiser or kids craft.

I bet you have some ideas in your head now… Perhaps some other cases, as for phone or camera?

Phone sleeves are another option. Leather does not fray or need to have finished edges so it is really quick. Customize the size and make some fun art.

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  1. Hi,
    Have you tried eco printing on leather?
    You are so creative on fabric ( I know leather is not fabric, but not paper either), thought maybe you gave leather a whirl.
    Thanks for all you do

    1. You know me too well! Yup, I have been playing with some leather but I like to have more experimentation before making a post. Stay tuned! It has been giving me results though…