Misc Leatherworking Tips
Out on the web
Misc tips we didn't have a place to put...
Breaking down leather
To make it look worn you have to bend, fold, twist and roll
a leather belt...especially if it is new. You can also get some saddle soap
or neatsfoot oil to make it soft....of course, that is if you are making the
I've used on leather and heavy fabrics alike to give a "worn-in" look is "Leather Balm", which is a microcrystalline wax in an alcohol solution. Applied heavily and rapidly with a rag and rubbed/burnished off with a clean rag quickly, it can give the look of heavy/greasy wear very quickly. The heavier the application and burnishing the more aged and worn (especially over high wear points). I did some "Goliath boots" over with this treatment for a docu-drama that made them come out looking like they had been worn for years, even though they had only left my bench a couple of days earlier.
It probably won't make the material any softer in the overall scheme of things, but it may make it *look* that way
Yes, you should definitely line the leather to protect the silk. And here's a trick I use:
Spray the back of the leather with Feibing's Suede Cote, Kiwi Kote for Fabric, or Scotch Guard to make it water-resistant before you line it. Use at least 2 coats, letting completely dry between coats (and before sewing on the lining). What this does is keeps both ambient moisture and body sweat from re-activating the dye in the leather. That keeps color from soaking through the lining onto your silk or your skin. You still want a fabric lining though, to keep tanning oils off the skin.
Best way to color leather is with leather dye. It can be mail-ordered from
pretty much any leather supplier (here are a few:
http://www.larp.com/legioxx/supplrs.html#leather ), but there may be a
lousy "hazardous material fee" that is several times more than the cost of a
couple ounces of dye. (It has ALCOHOL in it, horrors!!) Better to get it
straight from a leather store, but if there is not one near you try to find
a shoe repair shop.
Some leathers are oil or wax-treated and won't work well. Others will have a top-finish that you'll have to remove with a deglazer solution or acetone before it'll take a dye. Vegetable-tanned leather will take a dye, but you should use an alcohol-based leather dye.
I found that both Rit dye and Jacquard acid dye worked. In both cases I used the stove-top method. I added a little bit of laundry detergent to the Rit bath as per the package instructions and I added some vinegar to the Jacquard bath as per instructions on www.dharmatrading.com (located in California) which is where I got the dye (another good place is http://www.gsdye.com/ in Canada).
In both cases I rinsed the leather after in Synthrapol (also from Dharma Trading) and cool water. Thinner pieces of leather dye darker, you can try taking them out of the bath sooner if you want them to try to match the others.
Tips on on the web:
Paint flexibility is an issue on leather and you may find model paints
flaking off after all that work. The acrylic leather paints that Leather
Factory, Tandy, etc. sell (as "Cova Dye") is more flexible than artists
acrylics and really is designed for the job. Testors now makes some
water-based acrylic model paints that may be more flexible than the enamels.
yes, you can re-dye the color of a belt! (belt leather is not dissimilar to shoe leather). You can get a deglazer from a shoemaker or good shoe store to remove the clear topfinish on the belt (or acetone from a paint and wallpaper store; nailpolish remover will work in a pinch, but an expensive way to go). Then you can use a "shoe colouring dye" from the same shoemaker or good shoe store to recolour the belt, assuming you can find the right colour. This stuff will be a largely opaque dye (more like a paint) than the Fiebings leather dyes from a leathercrafts store, which are transluscent and can only darken the colour.
For shaping the leather pieces to curve over your shoulder and upper arm,
I would suggest either water-hardening (see
Hardened Leather - a project...
Making a Simple Hardened-Leather Rapier Gorget by Jon
This page was last updated 04/22/08