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Custom Leatherwork

Interested in placing a custom order for leather journals, aprons, and accessories from Riveted By Design? Start here...

This article is intended to give you information on the process for placing custom leatherwork orders with us. We enjoy offering custom and personalized options because it creates variety, keeps us interested and helps make your purchase more unique and meaningful.

As a married couple, one of the primary purposes behind our work together at Riveted By Design is creativity and enjoyment. We're happy and excited to be offering our work for others to enjoy! We focus on quality craftsmanship and genuinely personal customer service because when we look to make a specialty or handmade purchase, that's what matters to us.

We're happy to go back and forth with customers throughout the planning process and we'll do our best to answer your questions. Once we have a good understanding of what you are looking for, if we're able to help, we will give a cost estimate. Before we start working, we will request a payment (deposit or full).

Communication is Key

The process starts with a dialogue. We ask several questions and try to get the best possible understanding of what you want. Please start your custom order by reading through this post and contemplating your answers to the questions.

1. What is your budget?

  • Browse through our wesbite to get a sense of our pricing

  • Visit our blog post that discusses how we set our prices (coming soon)

2. What is your timeline?

Our lead time is variable depending on...

  • The season (specifically the months leading up to Christmas)

  • The level of detail (intricate designs, tooling, hand dying and hand stitching)

  • Design (have we made something like this before or are we starting from scratch?)

  • Materials (ordering certain supplies can delay a project up to 6 weeks)

3. What are the most important features of this piece?

4. What qualities or aspects of our style would you like to see extended into your custom piece?

The Language of Leather

It can be useful for our customers to know about the key terms we use to describe leather because depending on the project, we will be looking for certain characteristics (beyond colour) that will impact function.

Weight / Thickness

The thickness of a leather hide is described in ounces. One ounce of leather is roughly 0.4mm of thickness. We use leather that ranges from 3 to 5 ounces the most, but we do also occasionally work with 1 to 2 ounce leather.


The temper of a piece of leather refers to firmness. How easily does the leather fold or crumple? We select leather of a medium to firm temper for our journals. We would use soft tempered leather to make a pair of gloves, for example.


Beyond colour, we will talk about the appearance of leather in terms of texture (smooth, pebbled), special finishes (metallic, embossed), protective finishes (matt, satin, glossy, waxy). Other things to think about in terms of the appearance are scars, brands and natural range marks. As we mention on many of our product listings on the website, we often incorporate brands, scars and marks into the design of the piece. We do this for two main reasons:

  • we enjoy the unique and natural aesthetic that it creates

  • minimizing waste is important to us and one way we can do this is by accepting and including some of the natural flaws

That said, if you prefer minimal to no marks or flaws for your piece, just let us know and we will do our best to accommodate.

Types of Leather

Leather is the main material that we work with (we like cow and bison hides). Depending on the project, certain types of leather need to be used. There are many kinds of leather, here we'll talk about a few that we use regularly. Probably the most important one to mention is the veg tan leather because that is the type of leather that we must use for certain projects.

Vegetable Tanned Leather

  • leather that is tanned / preserved with plant sourced tannins (such as bark from trees, for example)

  • a beige coloured leather that is used for stamping and tooling

  • we use veg tan leather for making journals, albums, wallets or any item that we want to stamp or tool a design into, or any item that we want to dye a certain colour

  • we can wet it down and shape it around molds to create a bowl or purse

  • after tooling or shaping, it will be dyed or finished in some way

Oil Tanned Leather

  • leather that is treated with oil after the tanning process which gives it a soft and supple quality

  • we use this type of leather for making aprons because its supple and can move nicely when worn on the body

  • we can use oil tanned leather to make slip on covers for a hardcover notebook, but we wouldn't use it to make a journal because the oil could seep into the pages

  • it is usually possible to stamp initials into this type of leather but it's not appropriate for extensive stamping and tooling

Chrom Tanned Leather

  • leather that is tanned / preserved with chemicals

  • pretty much any leather that is not veg tan will involve chemicals for processing

  • there are leathers that are tanned in a hybrid process involving steps with plant tannins and chemicals

  • this is a faster tanning process than veg tan

  • we may use this type of leather in any of our products (as long as it doesn't involve a lot of stamping or tooling)

Thanks for visiting our blog! If you would like to work with us on a custom leather project, contact us by email, text or our contact page.


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