DIY

Build Leather Animal Figures From Leather Scraps

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Patterns to make leather animals.
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Anyone with a few basic leatherwork materials and tools (all of which are available at most craft stores) can easily duplicate my efforts.

Build Leather Animal Figures from Leather Scraps

The little leather creatures I make for my daughter have
provided her with hours of playtime fun. I patterned my
creations after some similar animals—which I saw on
display in a gift shop—that had been handmade in
India and were thus pretty costly. However, anyone with a
few basic leatherwork materials and tools (all of which are
available at most craft stores) can easily duplicate my
efforts.

Before you begin, you’ll need to gather together the
following items: a sharp knife (either a tool especially
made for use on leather, or an X-acto-type knife, or some
other heavy-duty cutting implement) . . . a sturdy,
large-eyed sewing needle some waxed cotton or
linen thread . . . a rotary punch or an awl . . . leather
dye in a color of your choice, plus cotton cloth to spread
the dye . . . and, finally, the leather itself (five- to
seven-ounce hide holds its shape best).

When drawing a pattern, keep in mind that the end product
should be a stylized—rather than a
realistic—representation of the animal. Practice
cutting patterns out of paper and folding them until you
find a shape that works. To begin with, however, you may
want to try one or both of the animals pictured here.

Leather Animal Figures: Step by Step Instructions

First, enlarge the pattern and cut it from the leather with
the knife. (A separate short strip is used for the tail.)
Now—using the awl or rotary punch—make the
holes indicated by dots on the pattern, both those that
will serve as eyes and those that allow access for the
needle when you’re ready to do the stitching.

Then saturate the leather in warm water, and—while
it’s still wet—spread on the dye with a soft cotton
cloth until the desired color is obtained. (Keep in mind
that leather looks darker when it’s damp.)

The next step is to sew the tail onto the main piece, as
shown on the pattern. Once that’s done, turn the edges
under as indicated, and press them to shape with your thumb
and index finger until they stay folded under by
themselves.

After that, it’s time to stitch the holes together: A
matches up to A, B to B, and so on. If you’re making the
giraffe, you’ll first need to bring the neck under
the body and through the slit shown in the drawing before
matching up points A and points B. The ears and tail of the
critter should be curled upward.

Now, you’re ready to shape the animal with your hands. Make
sure the leather is still wet . . . then bellow the body
out for roundness, and bend the ears and face into the
correct positions. To form the elephant’s head, you’ll have
to fold the leather back—on a line below the
ears—over the body, then bring the face down in
front of the ears. You may want the trunk to curl
up, too.

When you’ve finished primping and molding the animals to
your satisfaction, set them aside to dry overnight. Then,
in the morning—provided your creatures haven’t roamed
off in search of a jungle during the dark
hours—you’ll have some sturdy, whimsical additions to
your children’s toy box . . . or (since there’s no reason
youngsters should have all the fun) for grown-up display on
a shelf or desk.

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