I’m absolutely loving leather right now after recently completing my first ever leather workshop! I’ve been sourcing leather for years, whether for an armchair, a headboard or a contrast piping detail, but I have never physically worked with it. The material is actually quite beautiful to work with, and the results you can get are really remarkable, not to mention my addiction to the smell of a good hide!
I put my virgin leather hands in the care of Fungus Workshop, a small workshop in the heart of Sheung Wan that captures the essence of a fully-fledged leather studio; full of quirky looking tools and walls hanging with finished examples of leather products & jewel-like off-cuts of leather.
I dragged my fellow designer and DIY friend Vicky along for a four-week leather course. We both had our minds set on making a chic summer clutch (a must for every sassy lady!), and with the tutor’s help we were able to hone in on the finish of the leather and to master (albeit very basically) the assembly technique. Our first session was made up of cutting out the leather template, smoothing the edges of our chosen leather with a chemical solution and learning about the tools that we would be using.
The workshop has an electric vibe, full of students and tutors who are eager to help enthusiastic newcomers. When they are not dishing out advice, the tutors fill their time with their own exciting leather projects, from belts to custom eyewear detailing. The workshop interior has a real prohibition feel, full of vintage finds such as old phones and original Singer sewing machines, which help to create a real ‘edgy’ tone.
After my first lesson, I was anxious for my next class, where I thought I would be able to start sewing. Understandably (but to my frustration!) before we were able to start stitching we had to mark out and punch the holes for the stitching to ensure that everything would be as symmetrical as possible and that all the holes would be perfectly aligned to the edge of the leather. After a full session of hole punching, for our third session we were knee deep in special thread and needles, and boy did we underestimate how hard that was going to be!
The stitching was a laborious process, which required the patience of a monk, but once we had completed this painstaking task we were able to stand back and be incredibly proud of what we had achieved. To finish off my clutch, I wanted a magnetic latch to fasten the bag, so I had to do a small additional amount of stitching to affix the magnet to the bag.
I had a little extra time so my tutor quickly helped me make a wrist cuff to match my handbag (which has been a huge hit with my friends!).
Overall, I would highly recommend this course; it opens your eyes to working with a new material and is a great way to meet new people. The tutors take a stand-off approach to teaching, which may not be to everyone’s liking, but they are friendly, always there if you have any questions and they know leather inside out – I liked to call them the Leather Gods! Time to get creative Sassy ladies… who knows, you might end up making your own Christmas presents this year – now that’s impressive!