Leather craft can be a rewarding hobby as it allows you to indulge your creative side through a highly tactile medium. In ancient times, leatherwork was crucial for survival. This is no longer the case, but leather remains a favourite material for many people. Few things surpass the soft, supple, richness of tanned leather, making it relatively easy to create good quality leather craft items.
Some essential leather craft products are required before you get started. Leather is the most obvious supply that is needed, but it is important to understand what types of leather are available. Leather craft tools and some hardware are required to work, shape, and finish the leather craft product. Finally, invest in a few patterns or consider buying leather craft kits to make your first few projects easy. Leather craft essentials are available from craft and specialist shops, some department stores, and online from eBay.
Types of Leather for Leather Craft
A number of types of leather are available for leather craft. Leather is usually described by the way that it is treated, its thickness, and the animal that it was harvested from. The table below lists and describes types of leather that buyers may encounter.
Types of Leather
Tanned using tannin and other vegetable extracts
Not stable in water
Used for tooling, stamping, and wet moulding projects
Usually thicker than chrome tanned leather
Tanned using chromium sulphate and other salts of chromium
More stable in water than vegetable tanned leather
Looser, thinner, more supple than vegetable tanned leather
Used to make items like bags, purses, and pouches
Usually vegetable tanned
Used for tooling, stamping, and carving projects
Created from fibrous parts of hide left after separating the top grain from the hide
May have an artificial layer added
May be embossed with a leather grain
Distressed, older look
Used to create re-enactment items
Pieces of leather cut from larger items
Used to create patchwork products
Great for practicing techniques
Leather can be dyed or stained to create unique, eye-catching colours and designs. Alcohol-based dyes are the most effective as they get absorbed quickly and penetrate deeply, yielding lasting and relatively fast colours.
Animals Used for Leather
In addition to the types of leather listed above, leather can be categorised according to the animal that it was harvested from. Cowhide, pigskin, and sheepskin are popular options as they are easy to find. Ostriches, which are farmed for their meat and skins, produce soft, textured leather. Rabbit and deerskin are also relatively easy to find. Exotic leathers include crocodile, snake, and stingray skin. Using expensive, exotic leather for a first project is not a good idea. Instead, invest in some scraps or remnants and practice the techniques required for a particular type of leather craft.
Essential Leather Craft Tools
The tools required for leather craft depend on the type of projects that buyers would like to complete. However, some basics remain the same. Leather craft requires different tools to create bags or clothing. If possible, start with a single project and list the tools that are needed as the project proceeds. This makes it easier to see exactly what is needed for the task. If buyers find that they need different sizes of the same tool or specific tool types that are often sold together, they can save money by purchasing a tool kit.
Leather Craft Tools for Protecting Surfaces
Buyers need at least one cutting mat to work on. Experienced leather workers recommend getting two mats so that one can be kept clean and the other used for messier stages of the project, such as dyeing.
Leather Craft Tools for Cutting
A leather craft knife is required for cutting the leather. While specialist tools are nice to have, a standard retractable carpet or utility knife can be just as useful.
Leather Craft Tools for Making Holes
If buyers would like to do more than tooling and carving, a quality leather hole punch is essential as this allows them to create neat holes as needed. These usually come with rotating wheels that allow buyers to adjust the size of the hole. As a hole punch is used to create bigger holes, an awl is required if they want to make holes in the leather for stitching. An overstitch wheel can be used to determine the spacing when making sewing holes. This looks like a small, spiked wheel and is run across the leather to create tidy, evenly spaced punctures.
Leather Craft Tools for Joining Pieces
If buyers are using an awl, they do not need a special leather needle to sew parts together. However, investing in speciality thread is a good idea as leatherwork thread is used to add to the decorative aspect of most items.
Leather Craft Tools for Decorative Effects
Leather craft stamps are used to emboss letters, numbers, and other designs onto the leather for a decorative effect. If buyers are new to leather craft, consider buying a letter set to get started. Stamping requires the use of a rubber mallet. In addition, buyers may need grooving tools, bevels, or chisels depending on the type of leatherwork they want to do.
Hardware for Leather Crafts
Leather craft hardware includes all the bits and bobs needed to complete a project. If buyers want to make belts, invest in some basic or novelty buckles. Add metal spikes and studs for a retro punk look, or coloured studs for variety and decoration. D-rings are used for more practical items, for example to attach a strap to a bag. Snaps, clasps, or rivets may also be required depending on the project.
Leather Craft Patterns and Kits
Leather craft kits that contain everything needed to get going, such as a pattern, embellishments, and hardware may be useful. However, these contain only the materials that are meant for a single project. Buying a leather craft kit is an excellent way to get started for beginners as it allows them to fully understand how leather craft works and what is needed to complete a project successfully. If they later feel that they would like to assemble their own project, they can consider buying a few leather craft patterns. These allows buyers to cut and tool the leather, and most include a comprehensive list of the accessories and hardware required to finish each item.
How to Buy Leather Craft Essentials on eBay
Buying leather craft essentials on eBay is easy. Simply type a phrase, such as "silver leather", in the search field, which is conveniently located on every page, to see the items listed by eBay sellers. Narrow your search by choosing the most appropriate item characteristics. For more control over your search results, use the advanced search function.
Before You Buy on eBay
Before buying on eBay, learn all that you can about the item. All of the information that you need to do this can be found on the item listing page, which is accessed by clicking on an individual listing. Look here for details such as the full item description, buying options, how to pay, postage and packaging costs, and the terms of the seller's policy.
eBay's seller feedback feature allows you to see what other buyers think of a specific seller's products and customer service. Click on the number next to the seller's username to access this information. Detailed seller ratings provide additional details regarding aspects such as the seller's communication and the accuracy of the item description in the listing. If you have any questions about a listing, use the "Ask a question" link to contact the seller.
Leather crafts includes a number of different projects and techniques. Whether you intend to carve designs onto leather or to make leather clothing and accessories, having the right tools and materials is essential. Leather is required and it is important to choose the right type for the project. Vegetable tanned leather tends to be thick and fairly rigid; it is best suited to tooling, carving, and stamping. Chrome tanned leather is soft, supple, and pliable, making it suitable for sewing projects.
Leather is obtained from a variety of animals, with pigskin, sheepskin, and cowhide being the most common and easy to source. Exotic leathers, such as ostrich, crocodile, or snake, may be more difficult to come by and more expensive, but can be used to create luxury items.
Choosing the right tools for the job starts with basics like cutting mats and knives. A hole punch and awl are always handy, as are a large, blunt needle and leatherwork thread. If in doubt, tackle your first project before buying tools to see what you need to buy as you go along. Consider buying a tool kit designed for the type of leather craft that you want to do. If you find that some tools are inadequate, then they can always be upgraded at a later stage. Leather craft kits are great for beginners as they include all of the essentials needed for a single project, with clear instructions. eBay sellers offer a wide selection of leather craft essentials.