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Leatherworking Class


20 Lessons

10,594 Enrolled

Beginner Level

Learn the the fundamental skills you need to start working with leather by making simple accessories you can customize! In this class you’ll be introduced to a wide range of leatherworking techniques, tools and materials and then shown how to apply them to practical designs. Working with beautiful pre-dyed chrome tanned leather, we'll start from the basics and use our skills to create a simple wallet and a custom leather bag.

Our lessons will cover skills like cutting leather, gouging, folding, hand sewing, gluing, riveting, adding hardware, and creating simple details. We’ll also learn about the different types of leather, and how to create patterns for leather designs. By the end of this class you’ll have all the skills and tools you need to start creating your own beautiful leatherwork!

Class Author:MikaelaHolmes

​Mikaela is a costume and experimental fashion designer and artist, who has done her best to make playing dress-up into a career. She has trained in both the costume and fashion design industries, and works with all kinds of materials and techniques including leather, fabric, LEDs, fiber optics, sewing, painting, sculpture, laser cutting and 3D printing. She spends most of her time figuring out how to fuse traditional design and leatherwork with simple wearable tech to create clothing and accessories that turn her into a time traveling cyborg superhero! 

She is a former Artist in Residence at the Autodesk Pier 9 workshop, and currently an in-house content creator for the Instructables Design Studio.


Lesson 1: Intro to Leatherwork

Get an overview of what we're making in this class, some basic information about leather and leather history, and an introduction to your instructor.

Lesson 2: Leather Tools and Supplies

This lesson is where you'll find links to all the tools and materials you need for this class, as well as brief discussions of what each tool is used for. Everything you need to get started!

Lesson 3: Simple Leather Wallet: Layout and Trace

Learn the best way to transfer patterns onto leather, then get your hands dirty by tracing a simple wallet pattern using an awl.

Lesson 4: Cutting Leather

Cutting leather is one of the most important and fundamental leather skills you need to master. We'll talk about a few different tools and methods for cutting, then apply them by cutting out our wallet pattern.

Lesson 5: Gouging and Folding Leather

Learn techniques for folding leather using an adjustable V-gouge and a mallet. Apply your skills by creating folded flaps in our wallet design.

Lesson 6: Leather Hardware: Rivets

Rivets are one of the simplest and most effective methods of leather joinery. We'll learn about hole punching and rivet setting, and then use rivets to assemble our wallet.

Lesson 7: Leather Hardware: Snaps

Learn how to add simple closures to leather projects using snaps. In this lesson we'll talk about choosing the right snaps and how to set them, then we'll finish our wallet by adding a snap.

Lesson 8: Making Leather Patterns

If you really want to design your own leatherwork, you need to understand basic patternmaking. In this lesson we'll learn the fundamentals of how to design patterns for leather, then we'll make a pattern for our custom bag project.

Lesson 9: Custom Leather Bag

Start creating your custom leather bag design and practice the tracing, cutting, punching and folding skills we've learned already. Also learn about thinning leather with a method called skiving.

Lesson 10: Creating Sewing Holes in Leather

When you hand sew leather, you need to create holes to stitch through. Learn what tools will help you make clean stitch lines and consistently spaced holes, then apply these skills to punch the sewing holes you will use to construct your custom bag.

Lesson 11: Leather Adhesives

Glue and double sided tape can be great tools for constructing leather designs. Learn when and how to effectively use leather adhesives, and practice by using some double sided tape to help construct your bag.

Lesson 12: Sewing Leather

Hand sewing leather is a lot easier than it sounds. Create strong professional looking seams in leather with the one or two needle saddle stitch, and learn about different seam styles. Put it all together by stitching up your custom bag!

Lesson 13: Creating Leather Fringe

Fringe is a simple leather detailing technique that can add a lot of style to a leather design. Learn different methods for creating fringe, and how to incorporate fringe into a bag design.

Lesson 14: Making Leather Braids

Cutting fringe is the foundation for creating a lot of other leather detailing techniques like braiding. Learn some standard and non-standard braiding patterns and then have the option to incorporate a braid into your bag design.

Lesson 15: Leather Hardware: Rings

Choosing the right hardware for a design is important to both aesthetics and functionality. In this lesson we'll go over how to select and attach one of the simplest kinds of hardware: rings. Then we'll add our rings of choice to the bag design.

Lesson 16: Leather Hardware: Buckles and Clasps

Buckles and clasps are another crucial piece of hardware that you'll use all the time in leatherwork. Learn about choosing and attaching buckles and clasps for different kinds of projects, then use a buckle to create the closure of your bag.

Lesson 17: Creating Leather Belts

Leather is a great material for making belts. I'll show you some techniques for creating straight, shaped, single and double layer belts, and how to use grommets as points of attachment. Then you can choose a belt style and add it to your bag.

Lesson 18: Creating Leather Straps and Handles

In this final lesson I'll show you another way to add functionality to accessories with straps. We'll talk about how to measure for strap length and create a few different strap styles. Then you can finish your bag with the strap of your choice!

Lesson 19: Taking Leatherwork Further

What do you want to make next?? We'll discuss the skills we've learned and what projects will help you move your leatherworking skills forward.

Lesson 20: Leatherworking Encyclopedia

An in-depth reference for all things leather, with tons of photos! Leather tools, types of leather, common leatherworking terminology and resources for leather shopping. Refer to this guide any time you're confused!

Now that you have the skills, what are you waiting for?
Get out there and make something!