how to paint on leather & faux leather clothing & accessories

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Have you ever wanted to learn how to add your own illustrations and hand lettering to leather clothing and accessories? 

I have been painting on leather and faux leather items for about a year now and I thought that today I would share some of my tips and tricks that I have picked up. It's not very difficult to do and you don't really need a lot of different supplies. You don't even need a lot of different colours of leather paint if you keep you designs as simple as mine. If you are new to painting check out your local second hand stores and on clearance racks in your favourite stores for leather and faux leather items that you can customize.

If you are new to painting on leather, you might want to try it out on something like this faux leather tote bag.

Tip: I prefer to plan and draw out my design on paper first. You can enlarge or reduce your artwork on a photocopier to test how your finished design will look.

Once you have figured out what your design will look like on paper, cut it out as I have (see above) and use a measuring tape to figure out where to place your design. I use painter's tape to keep the paper in place. Once you are happy with the placement of your design you are ready for the next step - transferring the design onto the leather.

Tip: I placed magazines and books inside the tote bag to create a firm surface to work on.

Place a sheet of white transfer paper under the paper. Make sure that the white chalky side of the transfer paper is facing the leather. Use a sharp pencil to trace your design. 

Tip: You can trace as much or as little of the original design as you like using the tracing paper. I often leave out a lot of the smaller details and then add them in later using a white Stabilo pencil.

By the way, here's my supply list for this project: Gap faux leather tote bag, white transfer paper, Angelus flat white acrylic leather paint, white Stabilo pencil, pencil, assorted paint brushes, measuring tape and painter's tape.

This is a close up of the transferred design. The chalky lines are faint and will be easy to remove once you are done.

Now you are ready to paint. If you are feeling a little nervous about making a mistake and want to practice with your paint brushes first, I suggest doing so on scraps of faux leather or a worn out leather item from the second hand store.

I am right handed, so I always start painting on the top left hand side and work my way over to the top right side. I try to make sure that my hand doesn't accidentally rub up against any of the wet paint as I go so I work from the top to the bottom. 

Don't overload your paint brush. Allow your paint strokes to flow naturally and be prepared to go over some areas more than once to achieve a solid white line. 

Tip: Leather paint is permanent which means that there are no "do overs". Take your time and think about each brush stroke.

Larger areas will require a few coats of paint to become completely solid.
I used four light coats of paint on the LOVE letters and waited for the paint to dry completely between each layer.

Once the paint is completely dry, use a soft clean cloth to wipe away all of the white transfer  and Stabilo pencil lines. 

This technique is a great way to personalize clothing, accessories and home decor items.

I hand painted this jacket for a styled shoot I participated in earlier this year. It was used as a photo prop for a wedding set up. The jacket was stored in a garment bag that I embellished with floral illustrations to co-ordinate with the jacket design using a Sharpie paint pen. 

My custom jacket and matching garment bag are currently included in a Giveaway on InstagramThe #loveisintheair contest closes on August 18, 2019 and you can find all of the details about the giveaway on a post my Instagram account.