I love working with leather and exploring ways to decorate it. Here I chose the ancient technique of batik using wax and dye to make a colourful leather wallet.
What your need to make the batik leather wallet
- Vegetable-tanned leather, 1 to 2mm thick is suitable, 36x20cm (14x8in)
- Waxed thread
- Sam brown stud
- Beeswax Leather finish, to enhance the natural beauty of leather and protects it from the elements
- Sewing awl and needle to make lock stitches
- Revolving punch pliers to punch holes
- Utility knife or leather shears for cutting the leather
- Self-healing mat
- Metal ruler for cutting straight
- Grooving tool, serves to create a channel into which the stitches are set, thereby protecting them from wear and use
- Edge Slicker to burnish and smooth the edges of cut leather
- Stitch Marker to mark stitches evenly or use a measuring tape instead
- Water-based leather dyes, I used ochre, brick red, cranberry and blue (from Identity Leather Craft)
- Pieces of sheep’s wool
- Stiff paint brushes in different sizes
- Batik wax, soy wax is best
- Wax melting pot, to maintain the wax at the right temperature during the batik session or use a double boiler (with caution, don’t let the wax boil or smoke, and don’t leave it unwatched)
How to make the wallet
Step 1: Cutting the leather
Draw the pattern on thin cardboard according to the measurements given in the diagram.
Place the pattern pieces on the rough side of the leather as close together as possible and draw around them.
Cut out all the pieces with the utility knife and metal ruler. The two little rectangular pieces at the bottom give volume to the interior pocket.
Step 2: Grooving, punching holes and burnishing
Using the grooving tool, drag a channel around the edges about 0,5 cm (¼ in) in from the edge. This gives you a guideline along which you will sew and make the stitching line look even.
Lightly dampen the stitch groove and run the stitch marker around the edges.
Punch holes with the smallest size of the revolving punch pliers. The distance between two stitches should be between 0.5 cm and 0.8 cm. If you don’t have a stitch marking wheel, you could use a measuring tape to mark the stitches evenly.
Burnish all the edges with an edge slicker (dampen the edges and rub them with the slicker until they seal).
Step 3: Decorating the leather
First dye the leather in a light colour using the piece of sheep’s wool, then apply the hot wax with a stiff paintbrush.
Let the wax dry and dye the surface in another colour. You can repeat this process several times, depending on how colourful you want your design to be.
Use an iron (set at a low temperature) and old newspapers to remove the wax once you finished the dyeing.
In my design, I dyed the surface first with lighter and then with darker colours using different sizes of stiff paint brushes to apply the melted wax between layers of dye.
Dye the rough side of the leather with a dark colour.
Step 4: Stitching the wallet
I used the stitching awl method to stitch this wallet, but you can use any leather stitching technique you like.
Step 5: Attaching Sam Brown stud
Attach the Sam Brown stud using the screw on the backside. To fasten the stud to the leather flap you will need to punch a hole in the flap and then cut a line from it as shown in the picture below.
That’s it, you finished the wallet! Enjoy!
For more leather crafting projects check out my eBook on How to make unique leather sandals!