Using leather patches to create an item is in no way a new idea, but it didn’t hit mainstream fashion in America until the second half of the 20th century. Patchwork leather combines a number of different smaller, leather pieces and can be used to adorn or create everything from a simple watchband to a massive sofa.
Leather is fitted together in a patchwork pattern for an aesthetic purpose. Different shades, contrasting patches and a variety of shapes can be sewn together for a wholly unique and eye-catching look. Using lots of small pieces also opens the options of what can be produced as the final product. Another purpose is to use up scraps or small pieces of leather, constructing them into a larger project, so they become useful rather than refuse.
Patchwork leather can be found making up a wide array of different items. One of the most common is jackets, but it can also be used for purses, bags, long coats and vests. Patchwork leather shoes, boots, hats, ponchos, wristbands, skirts and shirts are other options. Home accessories, such as rugs, wall décor, chairs and couches, can also be made using patchwork leather.
The 1960s and 1970s were the heyday of patchwork leather in America, especially with the hippies. Not a street could be walked down without at least one person sporting the brown, beige and orange-hued patchwork leather sports coat, long skirt or bag. The 1980s saw patchwork leather turn monochromatic. Popular fashions included all-black patchwork leather duffel bags and all-black patchwork leather short jackets ribbed with elastic on the waist and wrists.
Patchwork leather items offer a variety of features. Some jackets and bags may be all one color, which gives a very subtle effect with enhanced durability if the patchwork is done right. Other features that accompany more colorful patchwork items include fringe, decorative studs or buttons bordering the patches, patchwork handles to go with the bags, and plenty of pouches, big pockets and snaps.
The thing that will kill a patchwork leather item the quickest is allowing the thread between patches to unravel. Anyone working with patchwork leather should choose needles and thread tough enough to adhere the patches together. Unraveling should be treated immediately, by knotting the thread that is loose and then sewing up any gaps that may have formed.