bookmark final

I’ll be traveling a lot next month, and I’ve been looking for inexpensive, easy to pack, not-too-hard-to-make host or hostess gifts. These DIY leather bookmarks were made entirely from materials I already had on hand and require only the ability to cut a straight line. It’s not hard to make a dozen at a time. And they pack nice and flat in a suitcase.

Although the materials aren’t expensive, you will need a rotary cutter to make these bookmarks. Otherwise they will look homemade in a bad way. If you don’t already own one, you can purchase a small cutter and mat for about $20.

Project estimate:

  • Old leather coat, free and up
  • Gold fabric paint (or acrylic paint mixed with textile medium), on hand or $3 and up.
  • Mod Podge, on hand
  • Painter’s tape, on hand

Total: Free and up

In addition to a rotary cutter, you will need sturdy scissors, a piece of scrap cardboard, tailor’s chalk and a leather hole punch. You can save some time and steps by using new leather.

bookmark 1

First dismantle your leather coat using sturdy scissors,  removing the lining and removing and flattening out the sleeves.

Then create a cardboard template to the dimensions of your finished bookmark. I made a 6 inch by 1 1/2 inch rectangle from a cereal box.

Using tailor’s chalk, trace the outline of your template on the unfinished (suede) side of your leather.

bookmark 2

Continue tracing rectangles, placing them to maximize use of your leather.

bookmark 3

Roughly cut out the rectangles of leather.

bookmark 4

Using a rotary cutter, cleanly trim the sides, top and bottom.

bookmark 5
To get straight edges, press straight down on the cutter, go slowly and cut past the end point of your leather. This keeps you from pulling away as you cut and stretching the leather. Also, pull the cut piece away before lifting your ruler. If a little spot is hanging on, you can go over it again with your cutter.

While you are cutting, you can also cut a strip of leather 6 inches long by 1/4 inch wide from your trimmings to make a tassel.

bookmark 6
If needed, you can iron the leather by using low heat and sandwiching the leather between an ironing cloth.

Most leather used for coats is too soft and floppy to make a good bookmark. If you want to stiffen your leather, apply a coat of Mod Podge to the back or unfinished side.  Be careful not to get Mod Podge on the front. If you do, wipe it off with a damp cloth before it dries. Allow the Mod Podge to dry.

bookmark 7

Tape off the end of the bookmark with painter’s tape and paint with gold. You can angle the tape for variety.

bookmark 8

You can stop here.

bookmark 9

Or, use a leather punch to add a hole and tassel. Use painter’s tape to mark a hole in the center of your bookmark. Punch one hole and use it as a template for your other bookmarks.

bookmark 10

Tie a knot in the middle of your tassel strip and pull it through the hole.

bookmark 11