Time requiredComplexityTools &Supplies

1 hour/bookmark

Easy

Common for leathercraft

I usually use my leather scraps to make key-chains like the ones in the picture below. But today I thought I would try something different inspired by some etsy products I saw on pinterest.

I will be working with 3 different kind of leathers: a piece of calfskin, a piece of first grade 5oz and finally some second grade 4oz. All are vegetable tanned.

As I will be using different techniques to decorate the bookmarks during some steps I will go into specific details for each piece. However when the treatment between the piece will be the same I will only illustrate the operation with one piece and show the result for all the bookmarks.


Requirements


Skills

  • Saddle stitching
  • Edge beveling
  • Leather dyeing

Tools

  • Awl
  • X-acto knife or scissors
  • Needles
  • Hole punches of different diameter
  • Edge beveler
  • Edge slicker
  • Applicator for the dye

Bill of Materials

  • Leather scraps
  • Thread(s)
  • Leather dye(s)
  • Leather cement
  • Leather finishing product

Pattern

The free patterns can be downloaded here.

Walk-through


Printing and cutting the patterns

The PDF for the patterns can be found here.

Print it on A4 paper and cut-out the pieces of the project.

Make sure that the pattern is not resized by checking your print settings. You can check if it was printed properly by measuring the test box on the pattern to ensure that its sides are 5cm long.

Print on thick paper to make it easier to trace the shape on the leather. 200g/cm2 and above is ideal (as long as your printer can handle it)


Tracing the patterns onto the leather

Trace the outline of the heart onto the leather twice.

For the bookmarks with the embroidery, mark every stitch point and trace the lines between them using the patterns as a guide.

I omitted tracing the lines for the wings as markings don’t come out so well on calfskin.

For the dotted bookmarks, mark the center of every hole to be punched through.

Finally for the moon, dampen the leather before tracing on top of the paper to leave a clear mark on the leather.


Dyeing the pieces

I mainly used two techniques here:

  • A watercolor brush with a water reservoir built in which allows me to suck-in some dye from the bottle and release it along with more or less water as I drag the brush onto the leather. Which creates a kind of watercolory effect.
  • A more or less successful gradient achieved by rubbing the soaked dye applicator on a piece of paper to get it to be almost dry and then rub this onto the leather, insisting more on the areas that I wish to be darker.

I applied a coat of oil on the cow skins and Tokonole on the calfskin (I like the texture that it gives to calfskin. Sometimes I use oil as well but it darkens the color and that’s the what I was going for).

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At that point the moon bookmark is going to disappear but don’t be alarmed. I simply called it a day and threw a piece of leather on top of it. The next day I started working again, finished all the bookmarks and took all the pictures only to realize while cleaning out my desk that the moon was left unfinished. It will make its come back in the final result pictures


Stamping, punching and embroidering

I punched my logo into the heart.

The punch sizes used are as follow:

  • 2mm
  • 2.5mm
  • 3mm
  • 4mm
  • 5mm

Each size is represented by a different line pattern on the PDF.

For the embroidery, first prepare the holes with an awl according the marks left earlier.

Then start joining each segment using the pattern as a guide.

You might be wondering what happened to the wolf? Well I thought that it looked really good the way it was right after dyeing so I left it at that.


Cutting-out the pieces

Now you can cut the outline of the 6 bookmarks’ pieces (12 pieces total).

A pair of scissors works fine too. It all depends on the leather you are using and how precise you want the result to look like (or inversely the amount of effort that you are willing to put in).


Edge beveling & burnishing

At that point the diagonal edge should be burnished as it will become more difficult to do so once both parts of the bookmark are glued onto one another.

Start by beveling the edge on both sides. You can use sandpaper to smooth out the result.

I also died the rough side and the edges of the dotted bookmarks.

Use the method of your choice to burnish the edge of all 6 pieces.

I am using a wood slicker and Tokonole in that case.


Gluing the two sides of the bookmarks together

Use leather cement to glue along the corner edges of the bookmarks.


Stitching the bookmarks

Mark the stitching lines on the corner edges and punch the holes. I’m using chisels but an awl is fine of course.

Stitch along all the corners.


Finishing touches

At that point you can bevel and burnish the remaining edges.

Finally apply to finishing product on your pieces. Let it dry, give it a good rub with a cotton rag and you’re done!


Final result

I’m really happy with these and hope that you will enjoy the patterns.

As always, please feel free to share any feedback about this tutorial or any project idea you’d like to see posted here.

Footnotes


The following online content provided some assistance and/or inspiration during the making of this project:

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