Another Class with Denny Lowe

Denny is such a gracious teacher and this time, he’s helping our office staff train to understand customer concerns with a bit of practical application. Today’s lesson was in tooling a passport cover – here are a few images from the class! 


Denny teaches by showing first and supervising later. He’s allowing for students to make mistakes happy accidents. It’s the best way to learn a craft


Students tape the back of their projects to minimize stretching

They trace the pattern onto their leather diligently. 


Now they’re ready to begin carving and stamping

Of course, everyone works at their own pace. 

Eventually they’ll end up with something like this. 


Thanks for checking out this simple gallery. If you’d like to get some actual instruction, check out a few posts on our blog, check out our YouTube channel or grab a kit or pattern at our store. Denny has created the patterns for a number of more advanced projects including this popular shoulder holster pattern and he designed many of our CarveRite Craftaids

Until next time! 

Getting Started with Denny

We’ve told you before that Denny teaches short classes on Friday mornings for the members of our staff that don’t get to make cool leather products daily. A few weeks ago, he taught some members of our marketing and e-commerce team how to make their first stamped projects. Today, we present to you this simple craft that Denny was able to teach several rambunctious ladies in about 45 minutes. 

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The craft in question are coasters made with just a few simple stamps and pre-cut circles. The student pictured went off-book and used a tap-off pattern, which you can read all about in this blog post


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What You’ll Need: 


The Process

This project is simple! You can have your first stamped coaster complete in a matter of minutes. 

Step 1 – Wet the Leather 

How much water to use is just one of those things you have to try out for yourself, but less is more in the beginning. We recommend using a spray bottle to get even and light coverage. Try a little water, wait a few minutes and see if the leather is soft enough to make an easy impression – if you have scrap leather of a similar weight, it should work well for testing. 

Step 2 – Set the stage 

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Use winged dividers or a compass to create a line around the perimeter of the circle. Make this circle go in as far as you’d like – we stuck to about 1/4″. 

Then, place your ruler in the center of the circle. Use your ball point stylus to make a light impression down the center of the circle from one end of your newly marked circle to about ¾ of the way down. If you end up taking the line all the way to the end, it shouldn’t make a big difference as it’ll be covered up in subsequent steps. 

Step 3 – Stamp away 

Grab a patterned stamping tool of your choice and start somewhere near the center of your circle taking care to align your tool with the center line. Use this tool repeatedly to obtain the desired pattern. Test this out on a scrap piece of leather if you have one! It’ll help you get the alignment right and help you with things like a basket weave tool which requires rotation. 

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Denny is breaking the rules here and starting near the edge, but he’s an expert and knows how far to keep it away from the edge. You are free to try this method too, we just don’t recommend it for your first time. 

Repeat your stamping steps and lean your tool to the side when you get near edges to get a faded effect. You want to leave some space between the ends of your stamping and the line you made with your winged divider in step two. This will allow your border tool to make clean impressions that won’t cover all of your awesome stamping work. 

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Here is one of Denny’s coasters. Notice how the faded-out the edges of his design allowed the border stamp to come in seamlessly. 

It doesn’t totally ruin it if you go to close to the edge but it looks a lot cleaner to fade the edges out.

Step 4 – Decorate that borderline 

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Here’s one a class member made. Inconsistent spacing and running over the original stamped design because it was brought all the way to the edge.

Take your camouflage or border stamping tool and line it up with the guide you created in step two with the winged divider. Repeat the pattern along the edge until it’s complete. You may want to practice how you will line these stamps up as that can get a little messy too – check out the image above to see what we mean. 

Step 5 – Have fun with it! 

You can leave the coasters as they are and allow the environment to have its way with your work or you can color/seal it. We didn’t do the coloring and sealing in the class, but that doesn’t mean we can’t tell you how. 😉 

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We recommend using dye or antique paste if you’re going for a uniform and classic look. For those of you who want a bit more color and design, we recommend using some paint like Angelus acrylic paint

You can use any finisher you prefer, but we recommend Master’s Quick Shine – it has a glossy, long-lasting finish that dries quickly and won’t bulk up your project. 

Step 6 – Bask your own glory

For you are done! It may not look perfect, but it was made by you and we’re sure there are plenty of cups that would be honored to rest upon your coaster, even if it looks like this…

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We hope you enjoyed that simple little lesson. We sure did! We love learning at SLC and there is always something new to pick up. If you have any tips, tricks or suggestions to add, feel free to let us know! Did you try this project? Please do show us here on Tumblr or share it with us on Facebook and/or Instagram. Until next time! 

These Bracelets Will Charm the Sports Fan in Your Life

 Make a custom bracelet for the sports fan in your life! In this tutorial, we will show you how to create bracelets that mimic a baseball and a football. As usual, we have a video version at the beginning of this article to cater to multiple learning styles. 

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Here’s what you’ll need: 

Materials 

This list includes materials and tools needed to make both bracelets. 

  • Lightweight Leather (3-4 oz)
    • Brown or White depending on the ball you’re mimicking. 
      • For the football bracelet we chose a brown pebble grain oil tan
      • For the baseball bracelet we chose white chrome tan
  • Lightweight Veg Tan (2-3 oz)
    • You can use suede or other leathers for this part. We recommend veg tan for its relative stiffness, which will make it easy to work with and it will patina over time, making it look better with more wear. 
  • Lace 
    • You are free to use any kind of lace for these! We’ve used a variety and found that materials that lay flat work best. 
      • Football bracelet –  we used two different kinds of white kangaroo lace – 1/4″ (1 foot) and 1/8″ (3-4 feet)
      • Baseball bracelet – we used artificial sinew (4 feet) 
  • Short Line 20 Snaps

Tools 

  • Utility Knife/X-Acto Knife 
  • Adhesive (Contact Cement) 
  • Line 20 snap setter 
  • Poundo/cutting board 
  • Mallet
  • Ruler
  • Compass/Wing Divider 
  • Needles 
    • “00″ harness needles for the baseball cuff 
    • Lacing needle for the football cuff 
  • Punch/Chisel 
    • 1/16″ hole punch for the baseball cuff 
      *adjust size based on your lace/thread choice
    • 1/8″ single prong lacing chisel for the football cuff
      *you can use a different kind of punch or chisel based on your lace/thread choice. A chisel is highly recommended for use with flat lace. 

Learn by Watching

For those of  you who want to watch someone make these bracelets, view the video below! Liz adds in some helpful tips and demonstrates lacing and snap setting.

If you’re looking for written instruction, keep scrolling. These instructions are complete with animated GIFs.


Football Bracelet 

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There’s always room for customization! The bracelet in front is exactly what the directions call for. You can add your own spin on this design with paint, additional snaps and different lace. If you’re going to go your own way with the design, make sure you adjust any measurements for your bracelet. 

Getting Started

To begin, you’ll want to cut your cuff and cuff backer. We clicked out 1.5″ cuffs that measure around 8.5″ long. Your cuff can be any size! You can buy it pre-cut or cut it by hand. Be sure to mark and create holes for your snaps. You’ll want to leave some space between the snaps and the edge of the cuff. Try laying the snaps on to the cuff first to see where they’ll rest. Be sure to do this for both your cuff leather and your veg tan backer. 

Create Guides 

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Before you begin creating holes, it is important to create guide lines to make things as uniform as possible. Use winged dividers or a compass to create a line down the center of the cuff, taking care to begin marking at least 1/4″ away from the holes you have punched for snaps.  Since our cuff is 1.5″ wide, we set our compass to 3/4″. 

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Create two more lines, about an inch apart. We placed the outer lines 3/8″ from the edge of the bracelet. Be sure to adjust the compass based on the size of your cuff. 

Punch Holes
Use a 1/8″ single prong lacing chisel and a mallet to create holes for the 1/4″ lace. Be sure to place the cuff on a hard surface like a granite or marble slab and to use a surface that won’t be ruined by the punch like a poly board.

Place the 1/8″ chisel on either side of the center line, slightly overlapping the punches to create one 1/4″ wide slot. Do this on both ends. 

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Use the remaining guidelines to punch 1/8″ holes. Make your first hole 1/4″ away from the slot on the center line. Continue making holes down the line, placing each about 1/2″ apart. Do this on both lines, taking care that the holes are as parallel as possible. 

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Lace it Up

Grab a lacing needle and about a foot of 1/4″ lace. Starting on the side of your choice, bring the needle through the back of the bracelet. Then, pull the lace through and guide it into the other slot. Your lace should be laying across the top of the bracelet. Be sure to leave a tail on both ends no shorter than 1.5″. 

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Now thread the lacing needle with the 1/8″ lace. Starting from the back of the bracelet, pull lace through the first slot. You may start at either end of the cuff. Be sure to leave a tail for this piece of lace as well. 

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Next, guide the lace underneath the 1/4″ piece and drive the needle through the nearest hole. 

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As you continue on, take care that the lace is not twisted and is pulled securely across. Next, carry the lace over the 1/4″ piece on the back and drive the needle through the very first hole. This will secure the 1/4″ lace. 

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On the front side of the bracelet, bring the lace over the 1/4″ piece and drive the needle through the nearest hole, completing the loop. The product will have the 1/4″ lace secured on both sides. 

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Starting on the next row, repeat the steps above until you have completed the bracelet. To tie things off, tuck your remaining lace. If the lace is too long, trim it!

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Bring it Together 

Once your bracelet is laced, it’s time to cover the laces with a veg tan backer. To do this, we simply glue the pieces together. For the best results, apply contact cement to both pieces. Be thorough in your application as this tutorial does not call for sewing. 

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Allow time for the glue to get tacky (when it’s hardly sticky to the touch) and then press the pieces together. Give priority to lining up the edges. This will help ensure that the holes punched for your snaps will line up and that your bracelet will have a clean appearance with no trimming. Take your time pressing the pieces together to ensure optimal adherence. 

Get Snappy

The final step is to set the snaps. This part is business as usual. For this step, grab your line 20 snaps, snap setter and mallet and get to work. Make sure you have them turned the right way! 

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Next… 

You’re done! Great job! 

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Baseball Bracelet 

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Here are some options. The one in front features artificial sinew lace and a single snap setup. 

Getting Started

To begin, you’ll want to cut your cuff and cuff backer. We clicked out 1.5″ cuffs that measure around 8.5″ long. Your cuff can be any size! You can buy it pre-cut or cut it by hand. Be sure to mark and create holes for your snaps. You’ll want to leave some space between the snaps and the edge of the cuff. Try laying the snaps on to the cuff first to see where they’ll rest. Be sure to do this for both your cuff leather and your veg tan backer. 

Create Guides
Creating the guides for this bracelet will be begin with a light pen and a bit of creativity. The center line for this project is up to you, but should be in an arc shape that is safely away from the edges of the bracelet. We recommend leaving at least a half inch between your line and the edge. We used a silver marking pen that wipes off leather. For that reason, it’s tough to see, but it’s there – we promise! 

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Once you have created a line that you are satisfied with, use wing dividers to make two outer lines. We set our compass to 1/4″. Adjust the size for your cuff as needed. Place one end of the divider onto the arc and create an impression. Repeat this step on the other side of the line. 

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Open Things Up 

Next, use a 1/16th hole punch and create holes about 1/4″ apart. Since this line is curved, using a ruler can be difficult. For best results, as your repeat this step on the second line, take care that the holes are as parallel as possible.

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Next, use a utility knife and slice the bracelet along the center line. Creating a slot (or a smiley face, as Liz calls it).

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Lace It Up 

It’s time to lace. get started by threading the artificial sinew onto two “00″ harness needles – one on each end. Since sinew is waxy, you can just fold down the thread. No need to tie or double up. 

Start at the back of the bracelet on the end of your choice. Drive both needles through the topmost holes – one needle for each hole. Pull them through and ensure that the thread is even on both sides.

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Proceed to lace by bringing needle through the slit then through the nearest hole opposite. Essentially, you’ll be crisscrossing the lace. You may begin on either side. 

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Just be sure to proceed in the same order that you began. So, if you started with the left thread and followed with the right, make sure you do that every time. As you proceed, the needle should never be tucked underneath an existing stitch

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Follow this pattern until you reach the end of the bracelet. To finish things off, pull both strings through the middle slot and pull forward.  Trim the sinew as needed. Since sinew is waxy, you can simply press it into the leather to stick. 

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If you would like you final stitches to be more secure, you may double lace the final slots. 

Bring it Together 
Just like the previous bracelet, it’s time to glue the veg tan backer on using contact cement. You’ll want to apply contact cement to both pieces. This time, be careful about glue application around holes. Applying too much glue will make it difficult to keep your bracelet clean. 

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Push the pieces together, giving priority to lining up the edges. 

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Get Snappy 

The final step is to set the snaps. This part is business as usual. For this step, grab your line 20 snaps, snap setter and mallet and get to work. Make sure you have them turned the right way!

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And you’re done! 

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Good job! 


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This Simple & Trendy Leathercraft Idea is the Perfect Gift

Last week, we taught you how to make a leather journal cover, but we want to tell you about another, very similar, kind of cover that is taking the stationary world by storm. 

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While this is no new concept, the traveler’s notebook is gaining popularity and the leather world is right in the thick of it. 


So, what is a traveler’s notebook? 

It’s essentially a notebook cover without the notebook! The idea is that the buyer is able to make a custom notebook by purchasing all of the inserts separately. All they need are a few elastic bands to secure them inside! 

The design is simple: create a notebook cover in any size (preferably something standard like 8.5″ x 11″) and create holes in the spine of the journal. You can add grommets, strings, strips or elastic so that customers can slip a notebook or two inside.

Of course, add-ons like pockets, pen holders and clasps can be added to bring your traveler’s notebook to the next level. All of the examples you see here are journal covers, but could easily be converted to traveler’s notebooks with a few additions to the spine. 

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The best part about these sweet little things is that prices range from around $15 all the way up to $300! Naturally, genuine leather covers are on the higher end of the spectrum. 

So, if you’re looking to diversify your offerings or looking for a gift idea – this might be the one! It’s simple, requires little material and it’s sure to be a stunner. 

How to Make a Journal Cover

Why not slip your journal into something more durable? Get a leather covered journal, or any book for that matter, by following this simple guide to journal making. If you’re familiar with our YouTube channel, then you’ve likely seen the video we posted a few days ago about making one. Tonya, the star of the video, makes all of the covers for SLC and can make one in as little as 30 minutes. That’s why she is sharing with you the simplest way to make a cover with the most basic supplies. 

Keep reading to check out Tonya’s instructional video and a text version of the instructions below! 

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As gift giving season approaches, lots of crafters are looking for good items to sell and journal covers are one of our favorites. These covers are the perfect project for those looking to make something simple, practical and unique. If you have minimal leather crafting supplies, this is the project for you! 

What you’ll need: 
Please note that links will be SLC products that are recommended, but that doesn’t mean it’s the one you have to use! For example: if we link to white thread, that doesn’t mean you can’t use thread of another color. Or maybe we linked to a different brand of contact cement than you prefer. Take a look arounf the site, we tend to have more than one variety of each item. Links are meant to be a guide! What your project looks like in the end should always be up to you.  

  • Journal – whatever style or size you prefer is fine. Just consider the stiffness of the covers when you work on the leather pockets. 
  • Leather – we recommend light to midweight leather (2.5 – 6 oz.) 
  • Shears or a utility knife – you want to make sure your scissors will cut through the leather without messing up your edges. If you’re unsure about your scissors, test them out on a scrap piece first. 
  • Wing Divider 
  • Contact Cement 
  • Ruler/Square – a square is optional but will make your job easier
  • Pen – we used a gel pen, but you can use anything that will show up on leather
  • Sewing supplies: 
    • Awl/Waxed thread and needle
    • Leather sewing machine with nylon thread – you don’t want to use a standard sewing machine on leather. It will not go well. 

Let’s get started: 

Watch the video below for instructions, tips on sewing and to watch Tonya make one herself! Check below the video for written instructions. 


Step One – Laying Out the Leather 

Lay your leather onto a flat surface with the finished side down. Place your journal onto your leather and ensure you have enough material to cover both sides of the book and the spine. If your leather has a pattern or grain, now is the time to consider how you would like it to look on your cover. If you plan to do any decorating on the leather, save that part for later.

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Step Two – Create a Pattern

You have your piece and now it’s time to create guides to cut. Use a winged divider or other tool that will create a clear indentation in the leather. A winged divider is ideal as you can trace the shape while creating space between the journal and your markings. You’ll need some extra space around the journal, so if you plan to use something aside from a divider, keep that in mind. Something less than a centimeter will work fine for a journal with thin covers like ours.

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Step Three – Cut it Out 

You can use leather shears or a utility knife to cut out the cover. If you decide to use scissors that are not shears, test them by cutting a scrap piece of leather to ensure it won’t fray your edges. An x-acto knife is an acceptable utility knife to use. Just be sure the blades are sharp! You can always clean up your cutting later and you’ll likely have to do a bit of trimming when we get to the pockets so don’t worrying about it too much. Get it as clean as you can in one go and move on.

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Step Four – Create Pockets & Strip

After testing the fit of your journal and the leather you’ve just cut out, it’s time to make the pockets that will secure the cover to the journal. Measure the covers of your journal and subtract at least one inch from the width. The amount you will need to take from the width will be dependent upon how stiff your journal covers are. Covers that won’t bend much will likely require more space. Try clamping the leather together to test it out. 

Once you have your dimensions, grab another piece of leather and a ruler. 

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Use a pen to mark the dimensions off on your leather. If you have a square, it will help you make sure that all of your lines are straight as they relate to each other. You don’t have to use a square, but it will save you some time. 

Once you have your pockets drawn out, cut them using the same shears or utility knife from step three.  

While you’re in the cutting mood, find a piece of leather that is long enough to wrap around the journal and tie! We used a piece that was six inches longer than the width of our journal. Our strip was one inch wide. You can also skip this step if you don’t want a strip to keep your journal closed. 

Test your pockets out by placing them on your cover. Make sure they’re inside the lines you have marked and that they’re as even as possible. If you have any trimming to do, now is the time. 

Step Five – Secure your pockets 

Use contact cement on three edges of each pocket, leaving one log edge open for the journal to slide in. Apply contact cement to the journal as well for extra hold. This will be especially important for those who are hand-stitching. Try not to go too wild with the glue so that it’s still easy for you to push a needle through. 

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Place your pockets on the cover. Be sure to have the finished side of the leather facing you. We used a ruler to make sure that the pockets are resting on the cover evenly.

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Step Six – Add your strip 

If you’d like to have a strip of leather secure your journal, it is time to add it to the cover. Apply glue to one end of the strip on both the finished and unfinished sides. Create a small hole between one of your pockets and the cover and place the strip inside. Have the unfinished side facing up. 

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Step Seven – Time to sew! 

Now it’s time to put it all together. As we’ve mentioned before, you can do this with a machine or by hand. Please note that using a regular sewing machine on leather will likely cause damage to your needle, if not the entire machine. We do not recommend using standard machines on leather, especially thicker leather. The same goes for hand stitching – using a normal fabric needle and thread are not your best options. 

As far as leather sewing machines, the machine you should use depends on your leather and sewing needs, but just about any leather machine will do as you will not likely be using very heavy weight leather. We used a Cobra Class 20 and #69 nylon thread

For additional sewing tips, we recommend checking out the video at this time stamp. Tonya talks you through testing your machine settings, getting around corners and securing your strip. 

For hand-stitching, we recommend waxed thread and leather needles. Sizes to be determined by you! If you’ve never stitched before, we offer detailed hand-stitching instructions for purchase or Denny will show you how for free on our YouTube channel. 

Step Eight – Try it out! 

Your journal cover is complete. Slide your journal in and see how it’s fitting! Make your final snips, burns and adjustments. 

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This Easy Scuff Fix Will Make You the Belle of the Ball

Hello everyone! We’ve told you a lot about leather, how to buy it, how it’s graded and even how to make stuff with it, but we haven’t told you a thing about caring for it or restoring it. In this quick how-to, we tested

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Jeff’s quick fix for scuffed leather. 

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What You’ll Need 

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Scuffed leather – we used shoes 
Leather Conditioner – we used Bick 4 Leather Conditioner 
Leather Dye – we used Fiebings Leather Dye in USMC Black 
– Paper, plastic or a surface that you can get dirty with dye – we used a plastic grocery bag
Syringe – no needle required! 
Container for mixing 
Gloves and/or dye applicator – we used gloved hands
Soft cotton cloth 


Prep 

Prepare a work space that can get a little dirty. We just used a plastic bag big enough for our shoes. If your project is a bit larger, you may want to lay out paper or go outside. You’ll also want to start off with your gloves on. Prep is totally optional though, if you like the dye a lot, why not spread it around? 😀 

Let’s Get Started 

Mix the dye 
In a container, mix dye and leather conditioner. We used 1/8th cup of leather conditioner and 12 drops of dye (roughly a teaspoon). Essentially, you’re tinting your conditioner because your shoes need the TLC. If your piece needs more pigment, add more dye! The big idea here is that you want more conditioner than dye and if you use Fiebings, a little goes a long way. 

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Apply the dye
You want to carefully apply your mixture to the desired areas. We used gloved hands to apply the paste and gently rub it into the material. You want the conditioner and pigment to penetrate the material but you don’t want to soak it. If you only need a bit, an empty travel-sized spray bottle is a fine way to dispense and store your mixture. 

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Let your mixture sit on the material for at least one hour

Buff away any excess conditioner with a soft cotton cloth and you’re all done! 

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