Introduction: A No-Sew Leather Apron - It's Simple & Quick!

Picture of A No-Sew Leather Apron - It's Simple & Quick!

(This is my first Instructable. I'm open to any suggestions to improve it.)

I'm in a welding class this semester and I'm in a wheelchair (every semester) so I need an apron, preferably leather, to prevent sparks & hot metal from flying into my lap and burning something important; cushion, pants or ME!

Yesterday my welding teacher mentioned I will need something by next weekend because we will be cutting metal with torches. He said I could lay a leather jacket over my lap to cover my legs. So, I had this idea for a leather apron I could make in a hurry. I work with leather all the time, so I have lots of leather scraps laying around, but if you don't have any laying around, leather can be purchased pretty reasonably inexpensive at a leather store or on the internet.

Beside the leather, you'll only need a few things:

  1. Good Scissors, utility knife or box cutter. Leather is not something you can cut with those little rounded scissors they give you in kindergarten.
  2. Pencil. You could use a pen, but it'd be hard to remove or cover up.
  3. Long Straight Edge - I used a board with a factory edge, but it doesn't really have to be perfect, just close!
  4. Hole Punch. There are many types of these and it isn't absolutely necessary, but it will help the apron last longer.
  5. A Work Surface. This would be hard to do in your lap. Even though that's where it'll end up!

The Disclaimer: It should be obvious that it is possible to hurt yourself while doing this, though it is less likely if you take reasonable care and respect for the tools. I am not responsible for you if you hurt yourself before, while or after making this leather apron, but if you practice due care you should be fine!

Step 1: Finding the Right Piece

Picture of Finding the Right Piece

Finding the right piece of leather: Like I said, I happen to have some leather around. Some of it's nice, some of it's scrap. I decided to go with scrap considering what I'll be using it for: as a protector during welding it'll probably be burned often. It needed to be big enough for the job and I had a piece of scrap big enough for about a 27" x 20" apron. That's a good starting point for you. Of course, you'll have to figure out what dimensions you'll need.

Step 2: Making a Starting Point

Picture of Making a Starting Point

Using the long straight edge, I drew the first edge with a rounded corner, not just for looks but there will be reason for that that you'll see later.

Step 3: Mark & Cut Out the Primary Shape

Picture of Mark & Cut Out the Primary Shape

After cutting the the first edge with the rounded corners, use the straight edge to mark the desired width and where the other edge will be. Then fold over the first edge to the mark for the second edge and trace the bottom rounded corner to make the apron symmetrical. It is not necessary to be symmetrical nor even nice looking to function well, but it will look like you knew what you were doing when you finish it, if you make it look nice.

After drawing the second edge, cut it out to cut out the primary shape.

Step 4: Making the Straps

Picture of Making the Straps

Next you'll make the straps by drawing them on the apron and cutting them from the overall shape. (See the jpeg cutting pattern.)

  1. Mark the first strap by starting at the bottom corner of one side of the apron and draw a line up the side about 1/2" in from the edge and down from across the top edge. Try avoiding a 90 degree corner at the top as the strap goes from the side of the apron to across the top. The rounder the corner, the more cooperative the final strap will be but is not absolutely necessary to be rounded.
  2. Mark the second strap by starting at the other bottom corner opposite the first strap and draw another line about 1/2" in from the bottom edge and going horizontal across the bottom and turn up the side edge, inside the first strap line by about another 1/2" stopping at the top of the vertical and inside the corner of the first strap.
  3. Punch a hole at the end point of the line. This will help prevent the final cuts from tearing any further and/or from allowing the straps to tear off.
  4. Cut the first strap line first and then the second to free up the straps from the edges of the apron.

Now you have a leather apron you didn't have to do any sewing to make.

Wear it wherever aprons will help protect your outer-wear and you from mess or pain!

Step 5: Some Tips & Mods

Picture of Some Tips & Mods

The following are tips to making the apron right the first time and modifications that you might like better.

The Tips:

  • Use pencil to draw you lines, it erases or covers up easier with dying.
  • Draw on the back for the same reason
  • Don't punch the strap holes until you stop cutting the straps about an inch before you get to the end of the cut. Then punch the holes where you want the line to end and finish the last inch by ending the cut at the punched holes.
  • If you have enough leather, make some test straps to see how wide or narrow you can make them before you mark the final straps. This could save you from wasting leather by accidentally tearing off weak straps.
  • If you didn't do the previous tip (the test straps) and you have the mentioned problem, you can cut another strap(s) from the apron. Just make them wider this time! The apron will be narrower but at least you won't waste it. (Also, sewing the torn straps would always be an option, if you don't mind sewing on your No-Sew Leather Apron.

The Mods:

  • Strap widths can vary according to the thickness of the leather. A wider strap will be stronger but less flexible.
  • Instead of cutting out the straps, if you have an eyelet tool and eyelets available, you can use two (2) of those at the top corners to make a place to insert string ties.
  • Or you could make it a non-No Sew Leather Apron and sew on straps for a nicer look and a longer lasting apron.
  • You can dye the leather any color you prefer. Nicer cuts of leather will dye and/or age better.
  • This instructable is about making an apron that will last a reasonable time, but not have a long life without many repairs to keep giving it life, but if you use nicer cuts it will last longer than if you use cheaper cuts.

Websites that each provide good advice and a guide about leather types and cuts:

http://www.waterhouseleather.com/leather_buying_gu...

http://www.saddlebackleather.com/craftsmanship/chp...

http://www.tandyleather.com/en/leather-buying-guid...

Step 6: Update: Duh! a Better & Easier Strap Pattern

Picture of Update: Duh! a Better & Easier Strap Pattern

I feel like "Duh! I should of thought of this first!" This strap pattern is so obviously better, straight forward, more symmetrical, etc. (See the drawing above.)

The process is still the same, so I'm leaving the original Instructable intact. I'm just suggesting drawing and cutting the straps this way would be easier and all-around better. Instead of the first strap going across the top and down the side, have it go down the side and across the bottom. Then have the second strap go down the other side and across the bottom (inside where the first strap is/was.)

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If anyone, like me has all ready cut the first strap, the apron can still be changed to this new style without any serious problem. It's just that you'll lose 1/2" in the width and length, so I think I'll wait to make the change if, in the future, a strap brakes causing a new strap to need to be re-cut or attached.

Comments

Rottedroots (author)2016-02-23

I recently finished an apron of my own for welding and grinding. I made mine with deer hide which is the only leather i had available and is the only thing left of the deer except the squeal or grunt in this case.
I didnt sew mine either. I simply cut some strips from the hide and inserted them thru small slits made with a razor knife and knotted them so they wouldn't pull out. I added a waist strap that i could tie them in back. Yours is much nicer looking then mine thats for sure but the sparks do bounce.

darrenah (author)Rottedroots2016-02-24

Thank you for the compliment. Actually, that's a good idea that I didn't think of and would be good to put in the mods list (if I have your permission.) Your idea of just cutting a long strap and a slit to lace it through. That's pretty simple and it's still counts as no sew! Good idea!

Rottedroots (author)darrenah2016-02-24

I can't sew Darren although I do have a sewing awl which works great for such a simple little tool. I don't know if what's I did warrants a change in your plan but do as you see fit. I'll will tell you that's I am making some butt ugly welds. They seem to be strong enough but sure don't look like a stack of dimes. Are you gonna get a shot at the plasma cutter in your class? That's sumpin I'd like to take a poke at before I purchase but for now my 90 amp $100.oo mig welder will have to do. Rock on..

darrenah (author)Rottedroots2016-02-25

There is a plasma cutter in the welding shop at school, but I don't know yet if we're going to get a chance to use it or see it used. I plan on asking the teacher about it at class this Saturday. Also, there's a plasma cutter in the local makerspace shop and that's the primary reason I'm think about joining them.

I think a strong weld would be the first priority over looks, so you're definitely doing that part right! :-)

Jobar007 (author)2016-02-23

What weight of leather did you use on this?

Neat idea. I've got some heavier leather that I would love to repurpose for this, but I'm curious about thickness requirements of the leather.

darrenah (author)Jobar0072016-02-24

Thank you! I have had the leather laying around for a few years so I don't remember the official weight, but I can tell you the piece I used was on the thicker side, but I've seen thicker. Any thickness will work, you just have to make test straps first to see wide you have to cut them for them to resist tearing. With thicker leather you can cut narrower straps, because the thickness will give it strength. With thinner leather you'd have to cut wider straps. With that be the case, thicker leather leather would be better because narrower straps would tie easier, but all strap widths will work.

Thanks again for the compliment and checking out my first instructable.

wold630 (author)2016-02-22

Wow! That is simple!! Thanks for sharing your very first instructable!

darrenah (author)wold6302016-02-22

Thank you! I've thought up a way to make it even simpler, so much so, it's like "duh!" I should have thought of that way sooner. I will post the updated idea tonight after I get off work!

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