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Leather Patchwork: What’s It and How Do You Do It?

leather patchwork

Patchwork is a very nice and economical way of putting into good use the piles of leather pieces you’d have after a few leatherwork projects. It’s simply one of the most creative ways to recycle leather and not to get you over-excited for nothing, but it’s important to add that the impressions you can create in leather patchwork is absolutely fantastic.

So, what is leather patchwork? Leather patchwork is a leather decorative technique which involves joining scraps of leather pieces together by gluing and stitching to form a picture, pattern or one whole piece of leather. Leather patchwork doesn’t only involve using scrap pieces of leather but also leather can be cut and joined to form a design.

Being able to nail a very good patchwork to a large extent depends on how well you understand certain fundamental principles of art and design such as color, shapes, harmony, and some other processes you’d need to follow to get it done. Let’s jump right into the details of Leather patchwork!

Leather Patchwork

Leather patchwork technique will give your leatherwork project a unique artistic touch. The Patterns you will create are going to be totally different and custom made to specific projects.

Most of the people who patronize leatherwork particular like this about patchwork design good because although their leather items may have been made commercially, the patterns that result on each leather item make it one of a kind.

Yes, Leather Patchwork results in different pattern designs since this technique makes use of different scraps of leather, joined by gluing and stitching to compose a picture.

This technique is especially executed using different pieces of leather leftovers and it’s guaranteed these pieces of leather material will never be the same be it color, shape, or size. Plus, even if by any chance the colors are the same, the color tones will never be the same.

Brief History of Patchwork

The history of patchwork dates back to about 5,000 years to early China and the ancient tombs of Egypt. Patchwork was mostly used on quilts, bags, clothing, wall hangings to mention a few.

Although patchwork was once a symbol of poverty, it gained so much popularity as treasured heirlooms. Further, quilts made using patchwork design decorations were discovered particularly throughout many cultures of the world as historic items.

The making of patchwork blossomed in the 18th century and can be attributed to the various advancements in technology within the textile manufacturing industry. This also saw the use of printed cotton fabrics.

Later by the 1960s, patchwork had become a street fashion and until today, it still remains a staple in the fashion industry and most homes around the world.

Tips for Leather Patchwork

Getting Leather Scraps

The leather scraps you’d use can be gotten from a leather recycling center, shoemakers, upholsters’ shops, or even buy leather especially for this purpose.

A few important things to remember when going for these leather scraps is to buy or get as much as possible because trust me, you’d need more than you think you do. Also, ensure you don’t buy the very tiny scraps of leather as they tend to be difficult to sew and work with.

One of the most important tips I could give you at this point is to also find some time to evaluate the thickness of the leather scraps you pick out. Having leather scraps with almost equal thick will really help you when gluing and stitching. If the thickness of leather is too obvious in difference, it turns to affect the machine thread and needle.

Another thing is the flexibility of the leather scraps. The extent to which the leather scraps feel and behave goes a long way to determine how the leather patchwork will look, feel, and behave like one uniform piece of material.

Pattern Arrangement

The type of pattern arrangement you’d use in for your patchwork should be well thought through. In leather patchwork, you need to give a bit of focus to the color scheme and shapes although it’s basically a technique that requires a lot of random colors, shapes, and designs.

Color Arrangement

For the colors of the leather scraps you will arrange, you can ensure it’s either evenly distributed all around the patchwork or you can group the lighter colors on one side, medium colors in the middle and gradually move into the darker tones on another side.

Another color arrangement you can use is to simply in a mechanical way randomize the colors. That is, if for example, you have four colors, you can start by arranging the first four colors brown, black, white, red and repeating the colors in that same order over and over again till the patchwork is complete.

When you’re able to properly and successfully create a colorful arrangement of the leather scraps the outcome is always interesting and very fulfilling. The fascinating decorations you’d end up making could be used for many purposes.

Shape Arrangement

When it comes to the manner in which to arrange the shapes of the leather scraps, you will need to make excellent use of regular or irregular shapes. You can make compositions using only regular or irregular shapes or a combination of the two.

Whatever you go with, the outlines of the shapes must meet neatly. It’s going to be a bit more challenging if you go with irregular shapes. You must take your time to ensure all piece comes in together to perfectly form and act like one piece of leather material.

Generally, for the shapes to fit and match well, you’ll need to cut out all your shapes by first tracing over a paper as a template to ensure all the pieces fit well. In this same light, use some form of the lining (for example polyester, or denim) to act as a support on which you will first glue all the leather pieces before stitching together.

Gluing and Sewing

Gluing followed by sewing comes in handy as it helps secure the entire patchwork.

Gluing

After you’re satisfied and have figured out which colors and shapes arrangement, gluing takes place. Because you will only need glue to temporarily hold the leather piece in place for sewing, you can use any leather adhesive that can bond temporarily like common spray adhesives.

Sewing

Sewing leather patchwork can be challenging if you have no experience sewing. Sewing reinforces the patterns in the patchwork causing it to look and feel more like one material. The zigzag sewing is the best and most common setting on the sewing machine to hold one part of the leather scrap pattern to another.

Going by some of these simple tips you’d be able to compose your patchwork very neatly for wall hangings, mats, bags, etc.

How to do Patchwork

Items Needed for Patchwork

  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Leather scraps (different colors)
  • Linen (stiff, polyester, or denim)
  • Glue
  • Tracing paper
  • Manila card
  • Ruler

Procedure for Patchwork

Step 1: Sort out your leather scraps and ensure your selection includes leather with the same thickness

Step 2: Mark out the design on the surface to be decorated

Step 3: Transfer the design onto a tracing paper or a transparent paper

Step 4: Cut out the shapes from the tracing paper and use the pieces as a template for tracing onto the leather, one after the other

Step 5: Use a pair of scissors or utility knife to cut out the various parts from the leather

Step 6: Sand or Skive the edges of the cutout leather pieces to further reduce the thickness and facilitate sewing

Step 7: Apply the spray adhesive and stick the various parts according to the markings in step 2. You can iron the pieces onto the stiff or denim material

Note: If you decide to iron, the iron should be moderately warm to avoid the leather from shrinking or wrinkling

Step 8: You can now stitch the various parts of the patchwork together using a sewing machine. The zigzag stitch is the best setting to use as noted before.

Step 9: Finish by polishing it

Macwilliam K. Appianing

Hi! I’m Macwilliam, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leatherwork enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day!

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