Design Making Series: Leather Making

This was written back in 2018 and was saved in my drafts…..it’s never too late, right?

Last month, I had a chance to do some leather making at the Chicago School of Shoemaking and Leather Arts.

Our instructor was Sara McIntosh, and she draws on over 35 years of experience in leather making. She gave us the option of making a pouch, phone case, or wallet as part of the three-hour workshop. I decided to choose a wallet, since I’ve been buying a new one every couple months. Why not make one myself that’ll last?

We began by picking the type of leather. For me, I spent more time picking the right color, which, I learned later on, was a rookie mistake.

Sara gave us wallet templates to use, so all we had to do was trace them using pencils onto our sheets of leather. It was a bit challenging to cut through the material; you didn’t want to put so much pressure that it would cut through the material under, but you wanted to apply enough pressure to make sure it was just one cut to get one whole, smooth section.

After cutting out all the sections and layering the pieces together we started hammering out holes to sow later on. Now I thought we were going to use a sowing machine to piece it all together, but nope. I forgot we’re in a leather making class. Of course we would do everything by hand. There were a lot of sewing techniques, but I decided to do a simple one where you just loop through it one by one, then go back and do that same thing.

I am pretty proud of my final product, although the wallet is currently sitting somewhere in my room. I probably won’t actually use it, but it’s nice to look at it knowing I made that. I had an amazing time and built an appreciation for people who spend years learning, building, and perfecting their craft.

If you are interested in any of this, I highly recommended checking out the place (No, I was not sponsored)!

Product Designer 🖊️ Writing is an outlet for me to learn new topics, share ideas and improve as a creative. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alvinchan7/