Turn earrings that have been sitting unworn for years into a great new pair with leather scraps.
Marni Was My Inspiration
Marni and other designers are featuring leather in their jewelry and I love it.
My "before" earrings are by J Gorkowski Studio.
One of my best friends has been a jewelry artist for over 20 years and she does beautiful work. Since these earrings were among those I first acquired all those years ago, I felt ok dismantling. I know Jenny would want her gorgeous semi-precious beads to be used!
If you want more DIY Leather ideas, follow my Pinterest boards named "Leather to Love" and "DIY Jewelry." https://www.pinterest.com/ThreadheadTV/
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Step 1: Gather Your Materials
2 pairs of earrings (The second pair were beaded hoops and I used the beaded drop from the hoops.)
2 jump rings (I took mine from a broken necklace)
Wire cutters (if you are dismantling a pair of earrings or necklace)
Needle-nose pliers (or in my case since they went MIA, I used a wrench)
Strong needle (strong enough to get through leather but not too big as to leave unsightly holes); pic #4 shows how my initial needle was too long & flimsy for leather so it bent. The shorter and stronger needle on the right did the trick.
Bonded nylon thread or quilters thread (black)
Clear nylon thread
Folded piece of fabric or blanket to pad your work surface. This will act as a thimble to help you push your needle through all those leather layers.
Leather scraps (I used a total of about 35 inches in length for the loops on each earring) so 70 inches total plus scraps to cut the flowers and petals. Clearly, you don't need much at all.
My leather was from a used coat I bought off Ebay for $20 and this was my 3rd project from the coat. The cuffs and hem were a bit worn but overall the leather was in nice shape so cutting it up for other uses was perfect.
My scraps were left over from this project (for one):
Step 2: Cut Your Strips and Start Looping
My strips of leather were not all one continuous piece. I pieced together a few lengths to make a total of about 35 inches in length for each earring. These lengths were about 1/4" wide but I purposely did not cut them with my rotary cutter (I used scissors instead) because I wanted this project to look more organic - like a real flower - not too perfect but still beautifully balanced.
For this same reason, I wanted 6 loops on each earring, all of differing sizes and I didn't want them too nice & neat. You are going for symmetry here but not the precision loops shown in the Marni brooch. This leather is thinner than Marni's so it lends itself to something more organic.
Tack each loop at the top with a stitch. This looping and stitching sounds easy but it takes a bit of time to get it looking just so. You will use the padding (folded white fabric in my case) on your table to help you push the needle through - easier than a thimble with this project.
Step 3: Cut & Sew Petals
Next, cut 6 petals in the approximate shape as in pic #1. Weave your thread in and out of the bottom of the petals to get a more 3-D shape as shown. Pic #5 has 5 petals sewn - just one to go. Pic #6 has all six petals sewn on. Tack the petals down to the top of the loops along the way. It doesn't matter that the center is messy so do your tacking there. The center area will get covered up by the second flower layer.
Step 4: Cut & Add Top Flower Layer
The second flower layer I wanted to have 5 petals instead of 6. It is easier to cut that way at this small size and kept the petals wider than they would have been with 6. Tack this on with one or two good stitches in the middle - up and then down.
This is where your pliers come in handy if they haven't already. You will need them to pull the needle through all your layers of leather (pic #3).
Tie the knot off underneath the top flower layer so it doesn't show (pic #4). Make sure you tie several times for a nice big knot that will stay secure.
Step 5: Add Your Beads
Now you are ready to sew on your beads. If you are experienced with jewelry making, you can certainly use jewelry wire here to attach your beads to the leather instead of thread. But clear thread works just as well. And it's a bit lighter in weight which I prefer.
Thread your needle with the clear nylon thread. You will have to tie it off 6-7 times to get a nice big knot that won't slip through the leather (pic #1).
Take the needle up through the top bead, then catch the jump ring with this thread and take it back down again through several layers of leather to secure. Then I did this again, taking the thread up through the bead & jump ring and back down to make it extra strong.
Next the drop beads were attached with 2-3 stitches through, then take the thread back up to the layer underneath the top flower to tie it off so the knot will not show. Again, you must tie off several times to make it a substantial knot.
Step 6: Rock Out Your New Leather Earrings
You now have:
1. Super cool earrings at any angle.
2. A wardrobe-refresh for a fraction of the price.
3. Fewer leather scraps in the garbage (not to mention the whole coat).
4. A great new setting for those beautiful but never-worn earrings.
5. DIY Rock Star status.
You're gonna rock these earrings, DIY peeps. Or your best friend will if it's for her.
Let me know if this inspired you to make a version of leather earrings. I'd love to hear from you.