Leather Work Basics

How to Use a Leather Work Pattern

Ok, so now you’ve learned about the different types of leather and grabbed the one that suits your needs. You’ve figured out which tools you will need and picked those up. Where do you go next? Well, now you need to learn how to use a leather work pattern.

Most people start out by downloading free patterns and making those. Creating a leather work pattern is an art in itself and it would just be needlessly difficult to try to learn to make templates while you also learn the leather craft basics.

Where to Find a Leather Work Pattern

A quick search on Google for “free leather work pattern”, “free leather work template”, or “leather working free pdf” or some combination of those magic keywords should find you an endless amount of patterns to try.

You can check out the templates I’ve made here. If you’re brand new to leather craft, I’d probably start with the Leather Cup Sleeve pattern or the Folded Card Holder. These are very beginner-friendly.

How to Use a Leather Work Pattern Once You’ve Downloaded It

Now that you have the pattern downloaded, there are several ways to use it. I’ve covered this in detail here as well as in this video:

In this post, we’re really only going to focus on using the PDF paper/cardboard methods and discuss 3D printing in another article.

Paper Template

This is the most basic and probably widely-used methods. You simply print out the pattern (making sure it is 100% scale), tape it down to your leather with masking tape and cut it out.

There are a few things to focus on to get a better-looking end result using this method, though.

  1. Take your time! There is no need to rush it. Really focus on cutting along the line smoothly. A jagged edge will give you either pieces that don’t fit, or a lot of sanding to do later.
  2. Paper bubbles up. It’s taped around the edge and the leather flexes as you cut it. The bigger the pattern, the more it bubbles up. One trick you can use is cutting a small hole in the middle of the paper and then taping that down to the leather.
  3. Print your leather patterns at 100% scale. You really need to check the scale when you hit print. PDF’s are often scaled to fit the margins on a page. This scaling is usually minor (around 94% on my computer), but it can make a big difference in how the pieces fit together and how the finished product will function (think trying to fit cards into a wallet that was cut slightly too small)

Reusable Patterns

These start out by printing out the pattern just like in the method above, but they should actually give you a better end result and can be used multiple times.

After your pattern is printed, glue it to a piece of cardboard, foam core, plastic… Really just anything that is fairly rigid.

Now cut this out the same way you do in the other method and you have a pattern that you can use again and again. Just toss it down on a piece of leather and scratch around it with your scratch awl. This will transfer the pattern directly onto the leather and you can cut it out from there, not having to worry about paper bubbling up or trying to see the lines through the masking tape.

Give It a Shot

If you’ve made it this far, you are now a leather worker! Make sure you hang onto your first project. It’s good luck. And let’s you compare it to each thing you make afterward. I guarantee you’ll be able to see the progress.

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