Posts Tagged ‘leather’

Before & After: Basic Leather Chair



This post is sponsored by Leather Hide Store. Find a massive variety of high quality upholstery-weight leather at a great price.

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I’ve had this seat for *gosh* nearly 3 years. It’s been patiently awaiting a loving touch in the corner of my studio. For the life of me I can’t find a before picture, but it’s not too terribly hard to imagine: dark oak legs and a 70s poo brown tweed cover over the seat cushions. It’s a simple silhouette. And for being so old and well-used (it was formerly a chair on BYU campus), it was in fabulous condition. A few scuffs and scrapes on the legs and a whole lot of dust.


Sitting on it was a dusty, scratchy experience. I felt like it could be easily elevated out of its sad state with a little bit of paint and leather. Unfortunately for everyone, it took a year to attack the upholstery once I started to take it apart.


It wasn’t that the upholstery work was terribly difficult. In fact, once I started the job, it wasn’t hard at all. The square shape of the upholstery made drafting up a pattern for the new cover super easy. And it didn’t take up a ton of material either. I don’t think I had more than 1/4th of a hide here and I had just enough to cover the entire thing.


The hardest part about the upholstery job was that Felix put a bolt inside one of the holes sideways (how he got it in there, I have no idea) so I spent a good hour working on getting it out.

I split a small part of the wood getting the legs on (see the above pic), but overall, it came together quite nicely. Putting the back panel of leather on was the most terrifying thing because I had to measure so precisely, account for the stretch of leather and use the most deadly upholstery tacks to nail into the frame so there are no raw edges. I’m sure those tacks were meant to go only through fabric, so it was a bit tough to get them to go through 2, sometimes 4, layers of 2 oz. leather.


Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out. I think it looks nicely finished, and guests aren’t afraid to sit in the chair anymore! It also adds a lot of lightness to that corner of our living/family room. The old chair blended right in to the dark wood flooring.


Materials used:

Here’s a run-down of the process:

I took off the legs, measured the seat and drafted up flat paper patterns of the seat. I used a 5/8 seam allowance and made sure to write out the SA on every pattern piece.

After the patterns were done and checked against the existing chair, I cut out the leather. Since there were a lot of squares, each pattern piece was labeled and the leather was clipped to the pattern pieces until I sewed them so I could leave and come back to the project and know what pieces were sewed together and where.

From there, I got a bit freaked out about the sewing aspect of it all and switched to finishing the legs.

I used BB Frösch chalk paint for the legs, which was a huge time saver. No sanding or priming required. Just paint and go! The matte finish is pretty great, too. It makes me wish this had been around when we did our rocking chair eeons ago!

After I got the legs done, I (with the help of my intern last year) removed the prior upholstery. I wish we had done this outside because dust, old fabric fibers and countless number of staples just sprinkled my studio floor for weeks. Even now I still find a random staple. This chair had hundreds of hundreds of staples keeping the material on the frame! The dusty fabric made my studio smell horribly for days.

I sewed up the seams on the sides of each section (the top and bottom cushions are two separate pieces) and fit the leather on. I didn’t have to make any adjustments to the fit, thankfully, but I realized I needed to reinforce the ends of the seams so that they wouldn’t come undone. I grabbed my waxed linen thread for that and sewed up those ends for strength. Once I got the top and bottom cushions done, I affixed the legs, attached the back portion and then covered the bottom. I cleaned everything up and conditioned with leather conditioner and voila! It took me several months to complete it, but if I had worked continuously on the project, it wouldn’t have taken me longer than a Saturday morning and afternoon. I just got nervous about each step so I would take long breaks.



So there you have it! Read more for details on the living room!


Sewing Style: Sequins and Leather


This top took me FOREVER to construct. I’ve known I’ve wanted to do this sweater since last winter and I discovered the glories of quilted knits. As the sweetest surprise, Lauren Dahl gifted me a couple yards of this gloriousness from Mood. Yes. You better believe I was beyond giddy to cut into it.


And cut into it I did. But it took me a month to remember to buy sequins and beads whenever I was at the store.


And then another 2 months to sew the darn things on. Chris was a trooper through this project. I had a pile of various sized sequins glittering the floor in our living/dining room for about 6 weeks. I’d sew one or two on before having to get to an email, calm a fussy child or police the troublemaking that Penelope and her neighborhood buddies like to initiate.

I kept telling myself it would be worth it.


The sequins I started with were huge. I didn’t like how big they were. So I graduated them to the smaller size toward the bottom of the shirt. I like the subtle depth it adds to the top.


I cut out my regular size Lane Raglan only to realize I should have gone up a size if I wanted more of a sweater look. As a stroke of genius, I added a ribbed racing stripe down the sides of the arm and bodice to remedy my mistake.

A happy mistake, if you ask me.

Another happy mistake was with the shoulders/elbows. I had initially cut out leather shoulder pieces, but I forgot to sew them in place when I was constructing the top. Instead of unpicking 5 large serged seams, I opted for leather elbow patches instead. I used Megan Nielsen’s elbow patch download instead of drafting my own. That lovely woman is a life-saver.


After I completed the sequins and lined the front panel (to keep the sequins from falling apart), the sweater came together rather quickly.

After I triumphantly completed the sweater, I wore it to my grandparents’ house for a dinner we had planned. That night June came down with rotavirus and vomited all over the sequins. Poor girl.

I was confronted with the issue: how do I wash this thing now? It’s got hand-sewn sequins and leather patches. It’s truly a dry clean only top. I don’t like making tops that aren’t easily laundered. I don’t want to be hesitant to get messy. I’m in a very messy phase of life with 3 littles under the age of 7. They’re darling, but disgusting.


As much as I love this top, I don’t want them to feel like mommy can’t play with them because she’s wearing her ‘nice clothes’. But I still want to have a couple of nice things. I’m torn.


Speaking of nice things, these pants are my favorite post-partum find. The midrise waist with stretchy denim is fabulous. I’ve lost some of the pregnancy weight so they’re getting looser on me, but they’ve never felt uncomfortable. And I got them about 10 pounds ago. Lulu*s for the win.


Aaaaand. . . I finally found my leather jacket. I started a pin board of leather jackets to get my mind in the space of what I was looking for. When I was in Vegas hanging with my calligrapals, we went on the hunt and successfully found the jacket. And when I say the jacket, I mean the only jacket I’ll ever buy for the rest of my life. It was worth all those pennies, though. It fits like it was tailored just for me.

Outfit details:


Sponsored: Leather Folio Tutorial



This tutorial is sponsored by Jo Totes. They have a wide selection of fashionable camera bags in both genuine and vegan leather. My favorite of all is the Siena bag – an italian leather bag that ages beautifully. I use it as my every day bag. It fits all of the essentials! The structured body allows me to easily find all of my purse’s contents quickly.

Stay up to date with Jo Totes on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

My purse essentials (beyond baby stuff): my instax camera, a notebook, pen, chapstick and gum.


For a while I had my notebook just floating around my purse naked. The problem with this was that the top page would frequently break off, wrinkle and just get disgusting. To remedy the problem, I hand-bound a folio where I can just insert the notebook I’m using and protect it from the contents of my purse. I’m constantly ripping out pages and tossing them, so it’s nice to have something reusable instead of having to bind a new journal every time I run through my pages.


The original version I bound was a traditional 3/4 rounded back bind with cutouts and pockets. I thought about sharing how to make this, but as I broke down each step, I realized that I had very specific bookbinding tools and the steps would take 5+ hours to photograph and explain. I ditched that idea for a simpler sewn version. It’s not as rigid, but it’s still quite sturdy and can be completed in well under an hour. You could opt out of real leather and use an industrial felt instead. I’m not sure I would recommend a vegan leather as it doesn’t tend to wear well over time.


This would be a great gift for a guy or gal. Christmas gift perhaps? It’s just over 2 months away, so time to start planning! I’ve already taken care of a couple of Christmas gifts already. I feel way more on top of things this year. Don’t worry though, I have plenty of time to procrastinate and get behind on my gift-giving.

So would you like to make one with me? It’ll take you about 20-30 minutes. If you’re making a bunch all at once (which I would totally recommend!) it’d take less than that for each one.



  • ruler
  • rotary cutter (and mat)
  • bulldog clips
  • thread
  • leather needle (or topstitch needle)
  • elastic
  • button
  • hand-sewing needle
  • x-acto knife
  • pen
  • bonefolder
  • leather
  • sturdy canvas or a fabric wallpaper*
  • notebook**

* I used fabric wallpaper for this. I scored some years ago from design centers in SF. Just ask an interior design company if they have any wallpaper samples that are being discontinued that you can have. Alternatively you can fuse any kind of fabric to Ultra Hold Heat ‘n Bond with regular copy paper.

** My favorite paper is the Rhodia pad or Clairefontaine Triomphe paper. They come in plain, grid, dot grid and lined.

Read more for the full tutorial.


Sewing: Leather and Knit Tuxedo Skirt Tutorial


This is the last of the pieces I made for Alt Summit. And sadly enough, I’ve barely used my sewing machines for basic mending since mid January. It’s time to get my rear in gear and sew some more! I’ve got a few great ideas for clothes for Penelope and me. Penelope is finally at a point where she’s not destroying her clothes, so I’m excited to start sewing for her again.

Here was the basic vision that I had for the first day of Alt Summit. It was something simple with the letter lover sweatshirt and skinnies (blogged here), but then kicked up a notch for the evening with a blazer and leather skirt.


The outfit pictured below isn’t what I actually wore the evening of the event, but it’s something I’ve been doing a lot lately: mixing neutrals. I’ve been mixing browns and blacks a lot lately. I find that it can be easily done, if browns and blacks are the only “color” introduced into the outfit. It’s much harder to mix neutrals (for me at least) when other colors are introduced into the palette.


Instead of going for a black leather like I had originally sketched out, I went for an oatmeal/white leather. It breaks up the brick pattern nicely and it’s a little more casual.


Constructing this skirt after my last leather skirt was a BREEZE. I didn’t insert any invisible zippers on leather. The fact that it’s mostly ponte knit allows for more wiggle room when moving around.


Between the knit and the yoga waistband, I can wear the skirt lower or higher depending upon how I want the overall look to come across. It’s nice to have flexible, comfortable pieces in the wardrobe.

So I’ve been meaning to write up this post for some time, but the biggest hang-up has been the tutorial. It’s so easy to make your own, I thought I would include a tutorial in the post. Click “read more” below to view the instructions.


Outfit Details:

  • earrings: c/o Ardor
  • necklace: Ann Taylor Loft
  • watch: c/o Feral
  • bracelets: handmade, gift
  • top: Forever 21
  • skirt: handmade
  • shoes: c/o Sole Society




Leather and Knit Tuxedo Skirt Tutorial



  • 1 yard ponte knit (heavy knit with 50-65% 4-way stretch, see here)
  • garment weight leather (see measurements below for amount)
  • bulldog clips, or paper clips
  • large paper
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • measuring tape
  • regular sewing machine
  • universal sewing needle


Sewing: Leather Handmade Tote


I had hoped to make more of my Christmas gifts this year, but alas, it was only one (besides teacher’s gifts). I made a leather purse for my brother-in-law’s new girl. We all just adore her, so maybe I got a little excited about making something a little extra special for her.


My friend Susan gave me this rad embossed suede a couple months ago. It’s just a killer color and texture, it was begging to become a purse.

It’s something like a 3 ounce leather, so I couldn’t get too fancy with it with my sewing machine so I made a simple box-bottom tote out of it. My machine didn’t like the leather a whole lot, but it submitted to my will in the end.


The inside is partially lined with leather, so I didn’t want to sew the straps on to the actual leather (3 layers of leather would have made my machine go out for a pack of bubble gum and never come back). So I punched a hole and affixed brass rivet thingies instead. The rivets took considerable amount of work  as a two-person job. Thankfully I had Chris at the ready to help me make the rivets happen.

Despite the possible headache of the rivets, they’re nice and snug on the leather, so I’m hopeful that they will stand the test of time.


The inside snaps together with a brass magnetic button. It was kinda evil genius of me to line the top part of the purse with leather since this provides a considerable amount of stabilization for the closure.


I made two pockets in the interior. They were hard to photograph, but you get the idea. The first pocket is an open pocket that’s flush with where the suede and lining fabric meet.


The second pocket is my favorite: a zippered pocket for secret surprises. It zips all the way across the tote with pink leather details (not pictured) on either end.

The interior fabric is Jay McCarroll’s Los Angeles City Center. Gifted to me by the lovely Kristin. It’s even more rad in person.

Having finished this first leather tote, I’m stoked to make another! It was a little intimidating, but not as hard as I originally thought!

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