How To

A Basic Guide On How To Dye Leather – Step By Step

Have you ever wondered how leather craftsmen get such bright colors or how dark black and light brown come about? The answer is of course dye. If you are a hobbyist or even a professional leather crafter, dyeing leather may be something new. It’s a process and you need to practice, but Cheap Air Tickets‘ guide will help you in the process. Here is a basic guide on how to dye leather.

The equipment you must prepare:

  • Cloth or sponge
  • Latex gloves
  • ​Leather dye
  • Leather finish

Step One: Don’t Dye your skin

Leather is skin. You are about to dye the skin of another animal. That being stated, you do not want to have your skin dyed. Put some gloves on (latex is best) and have a few to spare just in case you rip through them. While it may be a bit tiresome to change out gloves throughout the process, in the long run it saves a lot of soap and frustration.

Step Two: Open a window

As dye is chemically based, you will want to have a lot of ventilation. No, you will not dye incautiously if you do not ventilate the room, but you may get as high as a kite. Physically, the chemicals can cause headaches, vomiting, etc. if you are exposed over long periods of time. It is best to have a fan or something to circulate the air and to keep as many doors and windows open as possible.

Step Three: Chose your leather and clean it

The only real concern that you should have for the type of leather is in the treatments which have been done prior to it as well as to the grain. Yep, you need to consider about everything. First, if the leather has been pre-dyed then you need to look for waxes and other such things on the leather which will prevent the dye from setting. If the leather is untreated, then consideration needs to be made to the thickness of the leather (as the thicker it is the more dye will be needed to fully saturate the leather). Top grain leather should be noted as a concern as, by definition, the leather is on the top surface. This means that imperfections and defects will be accented when dyed.

Before you progress to the dyeing phase, you should clean the leather. Leather Cleaning in this circumstance does not necessarily mean using deep conditioners and such. You may be able to simply wipe it down.

Step Four: Avoid the water down

Some leather artisans have advocated that a water based dye can be watered down and applied to your product. But this is a bit counterproductive. If you add a water based dye, then you will need to add an oil based coat to put oils back into the leather once you are done, as overwatering can damage the leather. So, my advice would be just to find a color that you want and to apply the coats in thin layers, rather than trying to cut the dye.

Step Five: Add the first coat

Applying the first dye coat should be done in small circles. Use a non-abrasive cloth or a sponge and apply the dye from the left to the right. It is important that you keep a consistency to the circles. Do not make large and small circles. Additionally, you will want to overlap your circles. Typically a ½ inch overlap is sufficient. Do not neglect the edges of the leather. This is where that attention to detail will really shine. Even if you are performing a dye to an already died leather, such as a vegetable dye, it is crucial that you apply a base coat and that it is applied in a consistent method.

Step Six: Diagonal coats

After you have given the first coat a chance to dry, then apply a diagonal coat either from the left to the right or from the right to the left. The important thing is that you apply your coat with even strokes and overlap. The diagonal coat will cover up some of the circle marks from the previous coat. Let the first diagonal coat dry and then apply an additional coat in the opposite direction (so if you went from left to right, go right to left). Allow it to dry.

Step Seven: Apply a finish and buff

Once you are satisfied with the dye color, I use Fibbing’s Tan Kote to finish. After the finish  had time to dry, buff the leather with cotton cloth to ensure that you have the consistent look. When the buffing is done, you want to look at the leather for any definitive lines in the dye. If you see that there are, then it is advised that you add another thin dye coat. Remember, you want the leather to have a clean and professional look.

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Step Eight: Let it rest a day and then condition it

Let the leather sit and settle/dry for a day or two. You will not be able to tell right off the bat the effectiveness of the dying. It takes a few days some times to have the leather take on and absorb the color. Do not rush the process. The last thing that you want is to have your leather blotchy because you decided that this area and that area need more dye (which you should not apply to selected areas but rather do full coats to avoid this).

Conditioning and cleaning of the leather should be done only after you are completely satisfied with the end result. As these cleaner contain chemicals and weather proofing elements, it may be quite difficult to have dye adhere to the skin after application.

If you get stuck, ask a pro.

If you get stuck on the dye process, contact me directly via blog comment. Most importantly, practice often. It is a skill and it does take some practice to master.


All About The Types Of Leather Are Used To Make Shoes

Shoes, unlike other leather products which vary from geographic location to geographic location, are primarily constructed in the same method universally. While there are some slight stylistic differences between the “type” of shoe, creation is the same. However, it is the type of leather which is used which makes a substantial defining factor to the quality, luxuriousness, and durability of the fabric. Leather in shoes is not exclusive to cowhide, and so the artisan as well as the consumer should understand some of the differences between leather options which are available.

Types of leather used in shoes

While calfskin is the more popular of choices among shoe craftsman, goat, pigskin, cordovan (horse), as well as exotic leathers such as buffalo have been used. Additionally, the use of non-mammal skins can be used for more luxurious projects. Ostrich, alligator and snakeskin are leather derivatives. The case in point is that there is such a diversity in the types of leather available for use on shoes, that one should focus on the construction and the functionality of the shoe. The more luxurious a shoe’s construction, the thinner and more delicate he leather used in the shoe can be. However, even with something as delicate as lambskin, there is a certain standard to the thickness and the application. Understanding the type of leather, and its practical applications for shoes is the first and most essential part.

Consumers should be aware that a great many “luxury shoes” which are offered at discounted prices are not genuine leather but rather bonded leather or imitation leather. At its simplest definition, the appearance of leather is presented under the guise of leather, but in reality the person is purchasing trumped up vinyl.

Shoe construction

Typically, a shoe is constructed by stretching the toe of the shoe over a wooden or metal frame and then sculpting the rest of the shoe accordingly. As such lower portion of the shoe tends to have thicker ounces leather ratings than the top of the shoe. The toe and along the laces may also have slightly thinner leather. If luxury leathers are used, the shoe is traditionally layered with a thicker more durable leather to ensure durability. This allows for the more delicate leather to be presented on the exterior for aesthetics while the inner is formed for contact with the foot and for functionality.

Professional leather artisans should pay careful attention to problematic areas when choosing the type of leather in shoes. Areas such as he back inside where the sole rests, the exterior heel, the toe, all need to have thicker leather as these areas will receive ample amounts of abrasion.


  • 1 oz = 1/64
  • ​2 oz = 1/32
  • 3 oz = 3/62
  • ​4 oz = 1/16
  • ​5 oz = 5/64
  • 6 oz = 3/32
  • 7 oz = 7/64
  • 8 oz = 1/8
  • ​9 oz = 9/64
  • 10 oz = 5/32
  • ​11 oz = 11/64
  • ​12 oz = 3/16
  • 13 oz = 13/64
  • 14 oz = 7/32

When determining the type of leather to use for shoes, especially where it pertains to the durability of the shoe as well as the perceived value of the shoe, the thickness of the leather should be noted. As one would assume, the thicker the leather the less flexible he shoe will become. This does not mean that the shoe should be made of thin material either (as it would be prone to tearing). Typically, a luxury grade shoe is made from 7-9 ounce rated material. Rated ounces are equivalent to 1/64th of an inch or .4mm in thickness. Keep in mind that finer quality may fluctuate a few ounces, but there should not be anything which ranges in the 1 to 3 ounce range on a shoe.

What is the grain and how does it play into the type of leather I should use?

Grain is a nice way of talking about the pores and the defects on the leather. You need to remember that leather is the skin off of an animal and so there are going to be pores and defects present naturally. While most people are comfortable with the term grain, putting “this material has very little skin defects visible” is a little bit upsetting. That being stated, there are two main kinds of grains.

Top-grain is leather which has been made from the very outer part of an animal’s skin. Nubuck is one such example. In most cases, the leather is sanded and then dyed to give it a sleek and suede appearance. Top-Grain tends to be a bit more susceptible to stains, tears, and such, especially if the top grains have been sanded. Full-grain leather is leather which shows all of the natural grain (defect). It is the most natural look.

It is important that the artisan ask about the grain. It may be that the so called grain that is being presented is in actuality a print. There are a few ways in which you can tell if you have real full-grain leather or imitation. First, look at the cut of the leather. Real leather will have a bit of ruggedness to it. Secondly, look at the grain for a pattern. Real skin defects are not in a pattern but are rather sporadic in the design. Third, look for the pores. All of this adds up to show the quality of the grain.

Define the purpose when you determine the type of leather

Finally, in determining the type of leather in shoes to use, determine the practicality of usage. You would not want to put lambskin on a pair of tennis shoes. The application would make no sense. On the other hand, you would not want to use thick leather on a pair of loafers as the appearance would be more to the tennis shoe than to the luxury shoe.

It all comes down to a balance of experience, education, and evolving as you hone your craft. Of course, if you have any questions about which types of leather are best for a shoe, please feel free to contact me. With the information available, there is no reason why you should not be able to create the perfect shoe using the perfect leather selection.


How To Choose Suitable Thread For Leather Handicraft

Crafting leather is an art form which requires attention to details, but also to the quality of the materials which are to be used within the product which is being crafted. And while the leather quality should be the top priority of for the professional leather artisan, there are other factors to consider. First, one must consider the glue and binding of the product. Secondly, the stitching of the leather, specifically how to choose the best thread for fine leather work, should be considered.

Keeping the binding in mind

If you have ever purchased a pair of cheap shoes, then you understand the threading issues which can become dominant in leather products. Fraying threads are often the first signs that poor thread choice has been used. Typically, there are two main factor which can contribute to fraying on your leather. When the stitching is inconsistent or when the stitching is too tight, the product is apt to have areas where the threads fray. Additionally, if the thickness of the thread is not appropriate to the thickness of the leather, then there will be fraying.

Keep in mind that when you choose thread that the binding method needs to be at the forefront of a person’s mind. If the binding and glue is to be on several overlapping leather pieces, then the thickness of the leather will require a thicker diameter of thread. However, if the stitching is tight and there are not too many overlapping pieces, then a thinner thread may be used.

Understanding the product and thread relationship

Apart from the functionality of the binding, a leather artisan must take into account the aesthetics of the thread used based upon the product for which it is being used upon. For example, if you are trying to find the best wallet for men, a finer thread will give the wallet a delicate look. However, if you are trying to craft a leather workman’s belt, the thicker thread and wider stitching may be more ideal for obtaining that rugged and “workman’s” look.

Going beyond the aesthetics, when an artisan is trying to determine how to choose the best thread for fine leather work, he or she should consider their target audience. Women, tend to cater to products which have a definitive delicacy. This would mean that a thread of 832 or 0.43mm thread diameter should be used. Men, on the other hand, tend to want a more aggressive look to the leather. 432 or 0.63mm thread diameters may be appropriate. Yet, these diameters are dependent upon the thickness of the leather and the product which is being offered to the target audience. Specifically:

  • 332 or 0.77mm – Should be used for sturdy binding and stitching such as that to be found on the handles of leather handbags, on the inner seams of cowhide pieces (such as at the armpit), and for rugged aesthetics.
  • 432 or 0.63mm – Is a bit thinner than the 0.77mm thread but no so much as to make it a major thread. This thickness may sometimes be used in replacement of 332 threads, especially when blending various stitching styles.
  • 532 (0.57mm) and 632 (0.51mm) – I have placed these two thicknesses together because they are the standard sizes for threadwork. They are ideal for the wallet for men, the handbags for women in that they are no too thick and not too thin. Additionally, if you are attempting to give off the perception of durability to a product, the 532 and 632 threads tend to do so more than the 832 diameter selection.
  • 832 or 0.43mm – Reserve the use of this diameter for extremely fine and delicate detailing. Such items as watch bands, slim wallets, accessories, embroidery on lambskin and on detail work with nubuck leather may choose to use such. It is not recommended that the thread be used on thicker leathers such as Alligator leather or cowhide as the diameter does not equivalate to a durable and quality product in thicker leather work (unless glues and other diameters secure the binding).

Keep in mind that the thicker the thread, the looser the stitching will appear in most cases. Yes, the product will tend to take on a sturdier look, but as an artist, you will want to ensure that the presentation of durability does not overshadow the presentation of quality and craftsmanship within the product.

Color Selection

Once the technical aspects of how to choose a thread for fine leather work has been determined, the professional leather artisan then must determine the color of the thread. It is advised that the thread match the leather. And while there have been a few products which have attempted to contrast the thread with the leather, primarily in using white thread on black leather or vice versa, I have found that such a methodology takes away from the design and frankly gives the piece a cheap appearance. It is ok to use the white to black/ black to white theme on the finer details of a product, so long as the overall thread is not competing with the overall design of the product. What you want as an artist is to make the leather the shining star of the product. Therefore, the color of the thread should blend with the leather, not compete with it.

On the rare occasions where a contrasting color would be more idealistic for the product, craftsmen must understand the complimentary and contradictory colors. Browns and yellows work, Greens and blacks work, white and almost any other color works, reds and blues work. Yet, purple and red do not, green and red (unless you are going for a Christmas look) generally do not, orange and yellow tend to compete when used together and so they do not. My advice is to have a color wheel or make a hue chart if you have any trouble with thread color selections.


How To Clean Nubuck Leather – A Step by Step Guide

When it comes to leather, not all of them are the same and therefore, not all leather should be cleaned and cared for in the same way. Nubuck leather is a more luxurious leather than “standard” leather in general. Details and blemishes on the leather have been buffed out leaving a smooth suede/velvet feel on the surface. Although they are aesthetically pleasing and very comfortable, especially for shoes and furniture, they are a bit difficult to clean. Here’s The Crunchy Ideas guide on how to clean nubuck leather.

Step One: Remove debris by hand

The first part of nubuck leather care is to remove any large debris from the surface of the leather by hand. Keep in mind that any large debris can cause additional damage to the leather if it is rubbed back and forth. If you are uncomfortable with removing the debris by hand, simply turn your shoe upside down and give it a light tap. The point is to dislodge anything which may work as an abrasive against the already soft texture.

Step Two: Use a Nubuck Cleaning Sponge

To maintain the look and feel of your nubuck leather, use a nubuck sponge. The nubuck sponge is specifically designed to clean and care for that specific leather. You don’t need to apply a ton of pressure to the sponge. In fact, it is advised that you keep the pressure minimum when cleaning. The design of the sponge will absorb dirt and mild stains to the leather. Ensure that you clean the entire surface before you proceed to using any cleaners.

Step Three: Perform a light brushing to revive the fibers

Using a nubuck brush or if you chose to use your sponge alongside a cloth, make small circular motions over the surface of the leather. Keep in mind that the leather has already been buffed and that the pores are pretty much gone from the surface of the leather. You do not want to wear a hole or cause a definitive mark to the leather. Even strokes and small circles are best.

Step Four: Spray a thin coat of nubuck cleaner onto the surface

Do not soak the leather when you apply your cleaner to the surface of your furniture or your nubuck shoes. Apply the cleaner in the same method that you would apply spray paint to a surface. Once you have applied the nubuck cleaner, use a toothbrush or a leather brush to gently clean any stains and deep rooted debris from the surface. Remember to work in small strokes, preferably circles for the best results.

Step Five: Dry the leather

All leather is absorbent as it is hide. Even though the nubuck is a top leather which has been sanded and buffed down, it is still a hide and therefore still has crevices in which moisture can accumulate. Do not just set the shoes, wallet, or furniture in the sun to dry. Such could cause the leather to get spots or (depending upon the saturation of the leather) you could get rot on the leather. The best method for drying nubuck leather is a hairdryer put on low to medium heat. Keep the dryer in motion to dry the surface evenly.

Step Six: Gently Sand and Buff out bad stains

There are just some stains which will not come out with the traditional cleaning techniques. You must realize that nubuck cleaner is intended for mild to medium debris. Heavy soiling on nubuck leather may require that the person re-buff or sand down the surface of the leather. While you can do this yourself with a very low grade of sanding paper, it is strongly advised that you bring your shoes or other nubuck product to a leather artisan. The leather is very susceptible to the sanding process and it is quite easy to disfigure the surface from sanding if you do not know what you are doing.

Step Seven: Add conditioner

Just like you would do when washing your hair, the conditioner should be added after the cleaning to give the leather a nice shine. Ensure that the nubuck conditioner is in fact for nubuck and not a generic brand for standard leather. When applying the conditioner, spray according to the instructions, but also ensure that there are no areas which appear to be wet or overly saturated from the conditioner. Allow the conditioner to set in.

Step Eight: Add a protective coat to the leather

There are many brands which are available on the market for nubuck protection and you can check out Crimson Care’s Shoe Cleaner & Conditioner which is best for your nubuck leather care; they have been reviewed and valuated at this article. Typically, the protective coat will be in the form of a spray. You do want to ensure that it is not an acrylic seal that you are adding to the leather. Acrylic seals are, in all reality, a plastic that is being applied to the surface of the leather. As plastic would (1) crack under everyday use (2) possibly minimize the integrity of the leather and the feel of the nubuck and (3) give the surface an unnatural appearance it should be avoided.

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Just Take Care of Your Stuff

If you want to have your nubuck leather looking like new, then you must take care of your stuff. Maintenance is critical as well as day-to-day repair and common sense. If you spill something on your shoes, clean it off. If there is a scuff on the shoe, wait till you get a moment of free time and buff it out. The longevity of the nubuck leather is dependent greatly on the care and cleaning of the product. Should you have any questions about how to clean nubuck leather or if you just want someone professional to clean your nubuck leather, visit your local professional leather artisan. I am sure they would be more than happy to help you.