How to re-purpose a leather jacket: sustainable creativity in action

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Unfortunately, we live in a throwaway society coupled with a world of dwindling natural resources where the only growing ‘resource’ is landfill!

Leather is an example of a valuable natural resource that humans have used in its various forms throughout time.

Today, it is more useful than ever and is found in car upholstery, furniture, clothing, bags, shoes, fashion accessories, jewellery and homewares.

I love leather — especially leather bags and homewares — and in the creation of same, but it is expensive to buy in any form.

This is to be expected considering its sources.

For this reason, I’m always on the lookout in second-hand stores for more affordable leather, albeit that it may have already served a purpose. I’m inspired to make new from old not only to save money but to create with sustainability in mind.

Recently, I used two second-hand leather jackets — one tan, the other black — to create a range of new products. The tan jacket was used to make two leather cushions — see below. I used the black jacket to make a tote bag — also shown below.

I have plans to create another cushion and two pouches — one for my headphones and another for my mobile phone — with the remainder of the leather gleaned from the black jacket

Making anything is a creative process that requires an understanding of design principles. It also involves questions such as:

  • What is the intended use of the item?
  • Is it making best use of materials?
  • What features will it have?
  • How will it be constructed?

Additionally, producing items using resources that have already been in use requires additional insights into problem solving and a considered approach to use of materials.

Even though the leather I use has had a past life, this does not mean that I am less conservative in its use as I would be with any new materials used in my designs.

In the case of these projects, the starting point is the deconstruction process that must take into account gaining the most usable amount of leather.

Similarly, the features of the finished product must remain a focus and, in the case of re-using, the design is often dictated in part by what the materials already have to offer. This point can be noted in the tote bag where the original pocket from the front left-hand side of the jacket was incorporated in the design.

Other examples include the seams on the tan cushion which used leather from the original back of the jacket and also the back of the Moroccan pouf-inspired cushion which used the original fastenings on the front of the jacket to make the back closure of the cushion.

For those of you wanting to create something similar it is beneficial to think like a designer and follow a similar process.

You can follow Lisa Haas on instagram @leeseja

Author: Lisa Haas
Lisa lives on the North West Coast of Tasmania and is involved in the local craft community.

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