I live in a very bike friendly city, and commute on two wheels several days a week. My bike takes a bit of a beating every time I lock it up, so I made some leather armor to protect it. You can do this without any specialty tools, but a leather punch and some edge treatment gives it a more finished look. Total cost was about $20!
Step 1: Supplies
Unless you've got some awesome local stores, you'll probably do a lot of internet shopping to make this project. I got everything from Amazon or Tandy leather...
1. Leather - since this is a functional project, almost anything will do. I have a leather shop a few blocks from my house, so I got some scrap from their bin. This is a beautiful piece of vegetable tanned leather they sold me for $8!
2. Waxed thread.
3. Leather sewing needles - you don't NEED a curved mattress needle, but it helps when you're trying to sew the leather wrap around the bike tubes.
4. Leather hold punching tools - totally optional, but totally helpful.
5. Tandy Leather Eco-flo Gum Tragacanth - also optional, but it sure does make it look finished. You can also use any number of edge dressings or other coatings if you're going for a different look or style.
6. Denim Scrap - you can use an edge finisher, but the pocket off an old pair of jeans will do.
Step 2: Make Your Patterns
Find where your bike is getting beat up and make some paper patterns to cover it up. I took a scratch pad, a pair of scissors, and scotch tape to and made the patterns in place. Be careful not to inadvertently scratch your bike cutting the patterns off.
Step 3: Transfer to Leather and Cut
Lay out your paper patterns on the leather and trace. Then carefully cut them out.
Step 4: Punch the Holes
You can use a knife, awl, or other pointy object... but this is one case where the right tool makes all the difference. An even number of holes helps make the stitching look good if you're going for an X pattern.
Step 5: Finish the Edges
Take some of the gum and lightly coat the edges of of your leather. Then rub with the denim to make a smooth and finished look. All that's left now is the stitching. Stitching is fairly self explanatory, but you can make it look however you like... remember that this is a functional project - it should make you proud, but doesn't have to be pristine!
Step 6: Enjoy Your Bike All Over Town
Lean it against things with reckless abandon!