Your motorcycle gang days may be over, but thanks to crafting your leather jacket can rock on.
November 16, 2008 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Got some old leather articles lying around that have become dated, worn, or too small? Well, happy days are here again for your old leather goods, because here are some ideas on how to make old leather items into new items you can use.

For starters, what have you got to reinvent? An old coat? You can make it into a chair cover, a painted leather purse, a satchel, or a book or notebook cover. Skirts can be turned into nice purses or a wallet. Leather pants can be turned into a tricorn hat. A leather boot can become a purse. You might salvage an old compartment from an old purse to put into a new one. If you've got some old belts, they can become a rug, a picture frame, or a wrist cuff. You might also decorate that old belt and go on wearing it, and if you like doing that, you can move on to learning leather tooling, which is quite the art form and can be used to decorate any kind of leather item if the leather itself is suitable. If your item is very worn and you've got only a small amount of salvageable leather, you might make a leather bookmark, doll shoes or clothes, a leather cuff, or a business card case. However, if you've got old leather bondage equipment you'd like to repurpose, you are so on your own when it comes to finding links for that.
posted by orange swan (4 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
When I was in high school, I used a conventional sewing awl to repair a leather belt I owned. I stitched the entire perimeter of the belt, as it was composed of two pieces of leather that had been sewn together in the first place. As I recall, the initial stitching had failed, and so this was a repair.

The amount of labor that went into this project was enormous, and made an impression on me. You still see numerous leather items that are composed of two slats of leather that are stitched together, like this folding knife scabbard for a belt.

Stitching is not the most robust means of attachment, and so myself and others have sought ways around this design weakness. The venerable Leatherman tool scabbard is one superb example. It has no stitching at all, and uses only four rivets.

It occurred to me that if one started with a material that was tubular to begin with, that no side stitching would be required. Luckily for me, I was able to obtain sections of used firehose at an industrial supplier here in Seattle. Here is a flashlight belt scabbard that I made out of small diameter firehose. Note that only one end of the scabbard required stitching. Being that firehose is a composite, with rubber on the inside bonded to a synthetic overbrade, the material’s edges can be heat sealed. Ultimately my flashlight scabbard was a mixed success; despite the heat sealing, the main flap began to pucker and fray, and the belt loop cut-out began to tear. Perhaps the material I chose was too intrinsically flimsy.

I had better luck with a key pouch made out of firehose. I’ve used it for several years now, and am happy with the results. Again, note that only one edge of the pouch needs stitching, due to its tubular morphology.

It’s possible to get tubular synthetic firehose overbraid that has no rubber bonded to it. I obtained a long section of some in 4cm width, though I don’t think it’s firehose overbraid; I suspect it’s used for overhead crane straps. This width I found very useful, as I’ve made knife scabbards and belts out of it. The knife scabbard was simple as pie, and being that the closed end experienced no mechanical stress, I didn’t even stitch it closed, I just heat-sealed it.

The belt buckle I welded myself. Being tubular, the only stitching required on the strapping is what you see just below the buckle.

The belt buckle hole were formed with a red hot poker (a sharpened machine screw) Over time mechanical stresses will distort this material, so this is not an ideal, long term solution. But I’ve had this belt buckle for several years now, with no major malfunctions.
posted by Tube at 12:08 PM on November 16, 2008

I think they're on to something with that mixed material cuff. Instead of facing all the complications of making new things out of your old junk, just attach the old junk directly to your limbs, eventually you will become some kind of hermit crab thing, and will carry the entire material history of your life around with you.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:30 PM on November 16, 2008

And now I understand why you call yourself "StickyCarpet", StickyCarpet. The rest of us just get rug burns, but you go above and beyond that.
posted by orange swan at 12:57 PM on November 16, 2008

So are all of Tube's projects eponycraftical?
posted by FatherDagon at 11:46 AM on November 17, 2008

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