DIY: Custom Leather Patches

custom leather patch DIY

custom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIY

For Christmas, Olive has been working on custom leather patches for her siblings. She’s adding the patches to hats. She is halfway done with the project and I think they’re turning out really, really great! It’s been fun to see how easy it is to burn the leather. I can imagine making all sort of designs — initials, silhouettes or patterns — to create cool leather patches. Fun to embellish a wooly scarf or a totebag or even a baseball cap.

[ UPDATE: Olive has finished the project, so I’ve added in more photos to this post. ]

custom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIY

1) Start by assembling your materials. The only thing unusual you’ll need is a heated crafting tool. There are lots of different brands and they’re available at pretty much any craft or hardware store. I picked up this Dremel VersaTip for about $20.

custom leather patch DIY

You’ll also need leather. For ours, Olive and I stopped at at Goodwill and picked up this $5 leather purse. We also picked up a collection assorted hats in cotton and wool for everybody in the family. (Yes, our family has endured lice before, so yes, we thoroughly cleaned them when we got home.) Getting our materials at Goodwell made this an eco-friendly project too.

custom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIY

In addition to a heated tool, leather and hats, we also used a stencil and pen for lettering — but if you have good handwriting, you could totally freehand it.

custom leather patch DIY

2) Since I’d never used a heated craft tool before, or worked with leather much, I experimented on a small patch of the purse to get comfortable with the different tool tips. Then I taught Olive. (Tip: use pliers to change the tips if the tool is hot. Don’t get burned!)

custom leather patch DIY

3) Once we had our materials assembled and felt comfortable with the tool, we got to work. We started by tracing a circle on a piece of the purse leather and cutting it out.

custom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIY

4) We decided to personalize the patches with each person’s birth year. We used the stencil and pen to get the numbers onto the leather.

custom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIY

5) Then we went over the pen marks with the very hot craft tool to burn the numbers into the leather. (Note: the heat will make the leather curl a bit, and the smell is strong. Work with ventilation.)

custom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIY

6) Custom patch is done! Time to secure it to the hat with embroidery floss and the biggest, sharpest craft needle I had in my multi-pack. Getting the needle through the leather was tough but doable. Olive still has 4 hats to go, so we’re still experimenting with different knots and stitches. If needle and thread aren’t your thing, I know there are glues/adhesives specifically for leather out there.

custom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIY

Here’s the process one more time on Ben Blair’s hat. Stencil. Burn. Stitch.

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Here’s an overlapping patch we used for Ralph’s hat.

custom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIY

And that’s it. I’m so pleased with this project. Again, it was fun to experiment with a new tool and I feel confident more custom leather projects are in our future. I’ll be sure to update this post with the rest of Olive’s hats when they’re finished. [ Update: I’ve added all the pictures now that Olive is finished. ]

What about you? Have you ever worked with burned leather before? Does it look too complex to you, or would you want to try it? If you were making custom patches what would add them to — backpacks? shoes? lunchbags? party favor hats?

custom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIY

Need more sibling gift ideas? We made several fun projects this year: Monogram MugsBleached Out TeesBottlecap Magnets and Photo Snowglobes. You can also find a list of projects from past Christmases here.

custom leather patch DIYcustom leather patch DIY

41 thoughts on “DIY: Custom Leather Patches”

  1. After working in the home interiors business for time, I have inherited an lot of leather scraps. I would totally try this. Looks fantastic! Would be fun to try on little coin purses, or keychains, belts, etc. Thanks for the fantastic idea! Will be experimenting soon.

  2. that is so cool!! i also love how you got so much stuff from goodwill! i often shop there for stuff but this opens my eyes to more!

  3. So cute! To speed things along, and give yourself the option of chunkier string or a leather thong to tie on the tags, you could use a hole punch on the leather tags.

  4. Does June, like, sleep through the night already? Mine is still up and the many steps of thrifting purse to buying hot elements for a kid & making sure they don’t burn themselves and then finding a needle AND thread to sew it all together just make my eyes swim…

  5. They look great! Please don’t push the needle with your thumb nail and other thumb when trying to get it through the leather. I did that once and the needle went through both nail and other thumb. Use a thimble.

  6. I love this idea. Such a cool christmas gift. How do you hide these presents from the other kids when working on them? I will definitely add this tutorial to my DIY files for future reference. I think it would be as a personalized party favor. BTW last year I made flower headbands for my daughter and 2 other little girls after seeing your post a couple of years ago. My present rocked!! Thanks for sharing such great tips.

  7. I think the sibling gifts you do are fabulous- probably my favorite of your posts each year. They are such great ideas- unique but doable! Thanks for sharing! We have been doing them for the first time this year- so far gloves and plates- and it has been great.

  8. That looks like so much fun. Reading one of your former blogs. My little grandson will be 7 months old in 2 days. What an incredible wonderful time. Everyday he learns something new. I am a grandma so in love with little guy it makes me swell with gratitude. Happy Winter to you and your little sweetie pie.

  9. All I could think about while reading this post is one of my sons trying to “brand” the other with the hot tool. Now THAT is how they would have a good time!

  10. I love the birth year idea. That would be a creative way to label presents. Hmm, except that I was born the same year as my husband.

  11. Adding this one to my future DIY kid project lists! Great ideas as always! Due to the eco-friendly nature I think I am going to repost this one for you! Love it!

  12. So clever. We got all into the wood burning tool making decorations at the Inn this year. My head started spinning with the possibilities.
    Well done Olive!

  13. I just did this project with my tween daughter–we used leather patches to personalize drawstring bags that she crocheted as holiday gifts. After struggling with getting the needle through the leather, we took advantage of my husband’s leather punch which makes tidy holes (adjustable in a variety of sizes) very easily. We used the smallest setting and the hole was concealed by the yarn. Larger holes could certainly be part of the stylizing. We can’t wait to find other things to put cool, burnished leather on! Thanks for this wonderful idea.

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