Have new leather? Make a lightweight apron

I know many folks picked up some large whole hides at the leather sale. If you’re looking for a good project, consider making a lightweight leather apron for woodshop/other projects. While I don’t think a single layer of the upholstery leather is beefy enough for a blacksmithing apron, it’d be fine for a general shop apron.

Consider using the leather suede side out for a different look.

Weaver Leather has a good tutorial video. It uses minimal hardware (4 D rings and 16 rivets) by utilizing ties instead of snaps or buckles.

The basic pattern looks like this:

These dimension should be adjusted as needed: full width is 2/3 your waist to allow coverage without binding at the back of the knees. Waist to knees is 18" (longer for fuller coverage. Waist to top is 16" (perhaps longer if you are barrel chested).

They also provide some dimensions for different types of pockets (Note that the pen and knife pocket widths in the 2nd pattern don’t match the sizes on the master apron pattern. I recommend the latter widths):


I am having some difficulty finding rivets short enough for the upholstery leather. Do you have suggestions on this?


The evil empire (Tandy) should have what you need. the small size (1/8") should work for 2-3 layers of upholstery leather. However, I would suggest tubular rivets for strength in this case.

You have several options:

  • Copper or brass rivets can be trimmed to fit varied thicknesses of leather. They use a post and washer (called a burr), and the post is peined over to secure the rivet.

Copper Rivet and Burr:

  • You can add a leather washer (square or round, with a hole for the rivet) behind the leather to add thickness
  • hand sew the tabs onto the fabric
  • machine sew the tabs onto the fabric (THOR or a regular sewing machine with a leather needle should work).
  • Use small 1/4" “rapid” rivets and just pound them until tight (will deform them somewhat).
  • Locate 1/8" rivets as @nicksilva suggested, but I don’t think Tandy carries them.

IMHO, of these, the leather washer approach is probably the easiest and sewing the tabs on would probably look the best.

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I was hoping to avoid the need for a sewing machine. Hand stitching will be tedious, but doable.

thanks much for the suggestions.


The straps would only need about 20 stitches apiece (in a box pattern) so wouldn’t take long by hand. Even three layers of this leather would be easy to punch and stitch.

We have diamond punches which will punch up to 6 sewing holes at a time, which would also go pretty quickly and make for straight stitching lines.

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