The Story of the Leather Leaf

details of leather leaves and tools used with title

In my world ‘ideas’ just come from odd places. A favourite image, a lustrous media and before you know it… Another unique project. The story of the leather leaf is one of those; just way too easy.

up-cycling leather jacket

For the love of leather:

How can anyone just toss beautiful leather?! Alright I may fondly blame my mother for my tendencies; as she had an appreciation for certain fabrics in her line of work as a milner. She would save leather and alter or make things. I now do the same, especially knowing that some may just end up in the landfill.

This beautiful top grain leather jacket was strong and thin enough to sew with my home machine(s). I have vintage Kenmore machines that are all metal & always step up to the challenge. The old garment is carefully disassembled and yields some nice large pieces, much cheaper than buying hides.

If you are concerned of cleanliness, the pieces or the coat can be washed. Hand wash in cool water with a bit of Murphy’s oil soap. Let drip dry and condition with a leather conditioner. (more on that soon)

leaf shapes cut from leather

When I embarked in this web-venture I actually never had a distinct direction. It has just evolved on it’s own per se. My love of nature led to eco printing and that led to the leaf motif. I am in the process of designing purses currently and these became embellishment (skip ahead of you like)

Such Simple Shapes:

The oblong shape of a leaf is perfect, it has a centre line and so many options of edge and vein designs. No perfect rules here… TIP: If you want to make sure that you have success, don’t pick too complicated shapes.

sewn leaf design on leather shape

Stitch Magic:

Sewing leather sometimes means that it will not slide under the presser foot. Some ‘magic’ tape under the foot, a bit of talcum, or a ‘walking foot‘ do help. Another TIP: Why have the stress of sewing to an exact edge? Sew first and then cut afterward, especially when making a double layer leaf.

process of sewing leather with machine

If you need to keep pieces in place, a few pieces of double sided tape will hold it, and also a rub a bit of soap on the needle for extra slide.

finished leaves sewn on large leather piece

I don’t like plan too much, just figure out as a I go. Line down the middle, back and zig zag some veins… You will get to see the purse soon, I promise.

hand holding leaf after trimming

After sewing it’s easier to cut along the sew-lines. Each is unique and super quick.

anvil, punch and rivets

These leaves can be sewn to fabric or leather or even made as hang tags. I think they are the new replacement for tassels! Yes, you guessed it! I have my own anvil! (ok you NEED one for these)

hammer in rivets on anvil

To make these hang tags, the easiest way to attach is with 2 part rivets. A leather punch will easily let you make holes through the leaf and any straps you like.

closeup of leather leaves

They make great zipper pulls tabs.

rivet hammered into leaf to make a tag

Cut a small strip and don’t forget to insert the ring (d-ring or split ring) and then hammer will the tool for the domed rivets. You can also use a pull type pop-rivet as I used in my no-sew purse.

leather leaf tag attached to zipper pull

I am always looking at the details of designs. It can make such a difference. Yes, a sneak peak of the eco printing on leather that I have been working on.

partial view of leaf purse

Since the leather was not very thick the leaves add some thickness and shape to the purse.

eco printed leather maple leaf

I’m so excited to get some great prints on leather and ‘yes’ there will be some info available soon.

cream colour leather leaf

This cream upholstery leather is some small remnants that I could not resist…

beautiful eco printed leather purse with leather leaf

…especially on my latest achievement; an Eco Printed purse. Go practice sewing some lovely little leaves and get ready for some serious purse designing.

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  1. Hi Barb! I have been admiring your work for a while now. I’m completely blown away by your talent and imagination. I’m much like you in the sense that I love many different mediums and I love figuring out how to create something. You definitely need to write a how-to book…I’d be first in line to buy it!! 😊

    1. Thanks so much! I wish I had started this when I was younger! I’ll let you in on a secret; I am actually an illustrator and have illustrated many how-to books. Maybe reading the text ‘rubbed off’ on me. In that I also have had to figure out so many mediums and understand structure; it all helps. Thanks for the vote of confidence to write a book. I’m definitely considering it! Stayed tuned…

    1. Is that the one that looks like a little ‘steam roller’? Or the white Teflon one? There is also a large round wheel type that rolls along side of the needle. I’m itching to try it…

    1. It’s been an interesting journey. I hope I’ll have enough info soon. I tend to attack these things as an artist, not scientist. Always fun…

    2. Me too! I use leather a lot, I upcycle leather coats and fur. I would never advocate the killing of animals for their fur or leather, but the vintage garments I purchase would be headed for the landfill if I didn’t use them, and that would be a waste, and I think they are beautiful. I just recently discovered you Barb, I LOVE what you do <3

      1. Thanks! I like knowing I’m using things that are heading for the trash! It used to be of necessity that people repurposed; as my mother taught me, now it’s different but still good. Glad to have you join us!