When I found a beautiful leather briefcase at a local thrift store, I just had to refashion it into something usable and personal. Now, it comes with me everyday as I drive to work.
The next time you hit up your favorite charity shop, be sure to look for a quality bag that needs a bit of love and update it with a leather monogram.
Step 1: Materials
a bag in need of love
piece of vegetable tanned leather
piece of leather that is a contrasting color to how you intend to dye the vegetable tanned piece
leather modeling tool
fine point marker
stylus or awl
flexible or disposable surface for punching holes
Step 2: Modeling the Monogram
Use a precut piece of leather or cut your own. Mine was a piece from a leather kit.
Design your monogram and print it out or draw it yourself on a piece of paper no thicker than average printer paper.
Cut it out as precisely as you can then fold it twice to find the middle.
Use a compass to make sure it is perfectly circular and trim to the compass mark.
Dampen the leather and pat dry.
Lay the pattern on top of the leather and use a modeling tool to trace the design.
Step 3: Embellishment
I decided to add a pattern of rays to the lettering.
Mark the center and use a ruler and the modeling tool to draw lines radiating from the center.
Continue to use the modeling tool to embellish as you wish.
Step 4: Dye
When you've got the design modeled, it's time to add color.
There are lots of leather dyes out there, but my local craft shop didn't have any and I had lots of Rit lying around, so I decided to give it a try. It worked quite nicely. I could decide how dark I wanted it by leaving it on longer just as you would with dying fabric.
Use a brush to paint on the dye. Don't worry about watering it down.
Rinse after about 20 min. to achieve a light color like mine. Leave it on longer for a darker color. Be careful not to rinse it too roughly or you could damage the modeling. A light rinse under running water is enough to wash it off.
Step 5: Stitching Prep
Use a stylus or awl and mallet to hammer holes around the edge of the leather.
Trace the monogramed piece onto the back of a piece of contrasting leather.
Create a pattern for the petals or other design and repeatedly trace until you've gone all the way around. I used the end of a bracelet I dyed orange as a test for the Rit dye.
Cut out the contrasting leather piece.
Lay the monogrammed piece onto the contrasting leather and use the holes you already punched to mark the placement for holes on the contrasting leather.
This time, use a leather hole punch to add holes. I used the smallest size. You will need to stitch through the holes in the contrasting leather twice and the monogrammed piece only once, so the holes must be bigger than a stylus or awl can make.
Optional: Use a scrap piece to see how it reacts to heat before using a lighter to gently heat the edges of the contrasting leather. Most leathers will curl when you do this. It gave my flower shaped piece a bit more dimension.
Step 6: Sewing to Bag
Use a running stitch with waxed thread to sew the monogrammed piece to the contrasting leather.
The larger holes in the contrasting leather are going to come in handy now.
Place the monogram where you want it on your bag.
Place the stylus through one of the holes in the contrasting leather under the edge of the monogrammed piece. Use your mallet to punch a hole into the bag.
Carefully remove the stylus and thread your needle into the hole. Repeat this hole punching/stitching process to produce a running stitch until it is fully sewn onto the bag.
Step 7: Strap
The bag I got had no strap, so I needed to make one. I decided to use the Rit again to dye a couple small pieces with the same color I used on the monogram to unify it.
Step 8: Enjoy
Carry your things in style.
If I won a Form 1+ 3D Printer in the Formlabs Contest...
Being a public school teacher, I would love to have the opportunity to print some of my student's creations. Each student has an iPad with various 123D apps on them, and I've always wanted to experiment with creating collectible art toys.