This idea sprang from falling in love with several rugs in the Haute Hides collection at Joss & Main (and possibly the need to create something for my sister’s birthday). When I first spotted these rugs I knew they were waaay out of my budget, but then I immediately thought of all my sister’s leather scraps and the possibility of creating something DIY. See my sister is the Queen of Leather Scraps and has an entire craft room overflowing with many different colors and types of leathers. Most of the pieces are small and odd shaped, hence the “scrap” part of her official title. But, the great thing is that she keeps me supplied with any of my leather scrap needs. So the idea floated around in my head of how to make it work, but I left it on the back burner because I am smack dab in the middle of a B.I.G. latch hook rug project and knew better than to try and tackle another project at the same time. That is until I remembered that it is my sister’s birthday at the end of the month. She loves leather (obviously) and it would give me an excuse to play around with the idea in my head.
First, I had to decide what size mat to create and figured that starting small would be the best bet, plus I had all the pieces you see above already pre-cut and ready to go from some earlier projects (that I may or may not have ever completed ) and that also gave me an idea of how large I could make the finished mat. The finished mat above is approx. 24″ W x 35″ L and the leather scraps measure 3.5″ x 6.5″. Once the finished size was determined I cut a large piece of Decor Bond heavy duty interfacing to size. I would have preferred something dark, but to my knowledge they don’t sell a black/grey heavy duty interfacing and I had the white already on-hand.
Originally, I thought I would be able to temporarily iron the scraps in place (Decor Bond is fusible) before top-stitching, but the leather was just too thick to heat thoroughly enough to create the bond. So I scratched that idea and moved onto to spray adhesive. I relocated to the garage and then laid out the simple herringbone pattern on top of the interfacing.
I started in the top left hand corner by pulling off the first two pieces spraying them with glue and then replacing them. I used a large cardboard box as my spray box and just placed the pieces face down in the box, sprayed them with glue and the carefully put them in place on the interfacing. This job is sticky and somewhat time consuming, but it does make the step of top-stitching fairly easy. When all the pieces were glued into place it looked like this (sorry for the orange glow it was late at night)…
Now for the most time consuming part of the project. The top stitching (after the glue has dried). I would have loved to use clear thread, but a big part of this project was to try and use materials already on-hand. So I went with dark brown thread since the majority of the pieces were in shades of brown. This takes some time because there is a lot of starting and stopping to work around the pattern. I did start by stitching around the entire piece and that helped keep some of the smaller pieces in place that didn’t seem to want to stay put. In total I think I spent around an hour and a half stitching everything in place (this is just a guesstimate as I didn’t time myself). Also, most regular sewing machines can sew thinner leather (like pig suede) by just using a leather needle.
With the top part of the mat complete it was time create the base of the mat. This was something I wasn’t sure on how to do, until I did a little searching and discovered this post. The mat she used is inexpensive and you can purchase it by the foot. Perfect. I went to my local HD and purchased 4′ in length (because I didn’t remember exactly how long my mat was… duh) and then cut it down to size when I got home. I used the same technique as they did in the store to cut off the excess length.
The following steps are very similar as those used in the post I mentioned above. Using spray glue I sprayed half of the black part of the mat and half of the back of the leather part of the mat. Then I laid the leather part down on top of the black mat and attempted to space the sides and ends evenly. I wasn’t so good at that part, but left it as it was and then sprayed the other half of each piece and then meshed them together as well. Once I smoothed everything out, I flipped it over and used the spray glue to adhere the edges of the leather to black mat as seen below. I trimmed the corners to eliminate any bulkiness.
The final step of assembly is to break out the duct tape. I know you don’t actually see the underside of the rug, but in an effort to keep it as clean looking as possible (it is supposed to be a gift after all) I purchased some black duct tape. The duct tape was applied on all edges and corners. I actually did a second row of tape all around just to give it that extra bit of hold.
And, even though leather is already a very durable material and somewhat naturally waterproof, I treated it with some dry-o to make it officially waterproof. The stuff is smelly, so be sure to use in a well ventilated area. They recommend a couple of coats and it takes about an hour for each coat to dry. I did spray a sample piece first before spraying the whole thing, just to be sure I wasn’t about to ruin all my hard work.
And, now that it is done I think my sister will love it as a birthday gift. I already have plans to create another one for myself in a slightly different herringbone pattern and probably more uniform in color. I’ll just have to keep bugging my sister for more scraps until I can accumulate enough for my own rug.