What to do with hideous tie dyed leather?

All those who could, you  did go vote today?

Martha has been organizing my stash and found this hideous thing; about 15 square feet of tie dyed leather. I thought that since you guys are designers, you could tell me what to do with it. So what should I do with it? In my opinion, it looks a lot better in this picture than it does laying on my table.  Martha likes it. Or at least she says she does. Sometimes Martha forgets I’ve known her for 20 years and that I also know she can be… diplomatic… about these sorts of things. But she insists she likes it.

The results of this first attempt tie dyeing leather was mixed. It was successful in that I learned it is pretty easy to do -I used some ubiquitous taupe pig skin I had lying around. It was already ugly and figured I couldn’t do much worse (the failure part, I could make it uglier).

If you want to try something like this, count on tying the leather rather loosely (this was a 2 oz. garment weight) because as you can see, dye didn’t penetrate in too many areas within each circle. My other concern was that the dye of the hide and the applied dye would blend but that didn’t seem to be an issue. I suppose one could try this with a white hide but those tend to be rather pricey so I don’t know if it is worth doing on the off chance you end up with something hideous and then have to bleg about it.

I still would welcome any suggestions as to what to do with it. Using it to line cat beds is out. One cat (the Bat Faced Cat) pees on leather so we can never have it lying around. Then again, maybe it would be okay because he seems to be partial to goat and lamb.

Edit: since people assert this item is so lovely, I’ve decided to auction it off to someone who will appreciate its “beauty” more than I do. Proceeds of the sale will be donated to Hurricane Sandy assistance. The opening bid is $29.70 which is the cost of the leather itself ($1.65 per sqft). We measured it today; it is actually a bit more than 18 sqft.

Get New Posts by Email


  1. ginevra says:

    Cut it into 1-2cm strips; weave the strips in a basic criss-cross pattern; sew the newly woven fabric into a tote bag (lined with a different fabric). Then it will just look colourful & trendy, not tie dyed & hippy… ;P

    I know you have 15 square feet, so either make lots of bags, or try out a range of other suggestions.

  2. Teijo says:

    Perhaps a short dress of an otherwise black and red stage costume for a slim rock artist? It might also work as the back panel and lapels of a very dark, very slim and closely fitted waist-length jacket…

  3. Cheryl says:

    ebay baby. I like it even though I am not into BUYING at the moment. List it..or list on etsy. TIE DYE is the ‘in’ thing. All of these YOUNGSTERS think they DISCOVERED IT. That and PEACE SIGNS. I think these ‘young ones’ are FUNNY. These things have been around since the 60’s :)

  4. kellyt says:

    You could perform another experiment on it. The experiment I would like to know is can leather be discharged (strip the dye out)?
    You could also retie it and over dye in black or another darker color. That would tone the contrast down more.
    I think it would look nice on the inside flap/panel and collar on a biker style jacket.
    I really like Ginevra comment. It would make a very nice bag.

  5. Andrea says:

    Don’t fight the feeling — go with the flow, and make the most heinous hippy bag you can imagine, complete with tie dyed leather fringe(8″or longer). Just get it out of your system so it won’t come back ! And before you know it people will be stopping you on the street to ask about your cool bag. Seriously.

  6. Quincunx says:

    Actually, given that the original was taupe and this pattern appears to have a lot of white in it, it might have discharged some dye already. (My husband, upon seeing the photo, was more fascinated that leather could be made white than that it could be tie-dyed. Spot the metalhead with the all-black wardrobe, anyone. . .)

    My imagination of garment leather is limited. I’d just go ahead and embrace the hideous gaudiness and make a rain skirt that you WILL see coming in all weathers.

  7. You could always overdye it. My co-worker gave me about an afghan’s worth of absolutely hideous-colored yarn that had been given to him by another colleague because it was so ugly, who’d gotten it from someone else because it was such a bad color, etc, etc. I overdyed it and got an afghan’s worth of nice yarn in a color I can use.

    Overdye it some mostly-solid blue, and you’ll still have the tie-dye patterns, but without the blue-and-yellow-and-purple-and-white-and-pink thing.

  8. Barbara Christensen says:

    I love the acid colors. I could see it as seats on some Louie dining room chairs. Love the woven tote idea too.

  9. Mary says:

    I’m dying to see how it would look cut into strips and woven just because I’m curious.

    If you have anything else that is tie dyed that could be sacrificed (an old t shirt?) you could try it out on it first just to get an approximation. Or maybe someone else has tried that.

    I remember an old Threads article of taking hideous fabric (oh and count me in on Team “I like your tie died leather” by the way) and doing what ginevra suggested. I always thought the results were amazing.

    Since my comment is rambling and confusing – #1 I love it like it is for a skirt, Louie chairs (wow!), whatever. #2 How do tie dyed fabrics look cut into strips and woven? Dying to know!

  10. gregbroxton says:

    A bomber jacket made entirely from this would be all the rage… in an ironic sort of way. I think it’s great, don’t cut it up!

  11. Sarah_H. says:

    Put me in the “I like it” group, but you know I’m an old hippie. I like the idea of overdying iwith more blue, and would love to know how discharging the dye came out, or the weaving. Since you have so much of it, you could use it as an experimental thing and try more than one approach. Oh, you could send it to Marisa Lynch. It would be fun to see what she did with it. (She writes the “365 days, 365$, 365 new dresses” blog that I read right after this one with my morning coffee.)

  12. LinB says:

    Masks for a costume ball? Hat to wear at a mardi gras parade? Suspenders for a production of Godspell? Sling to carry a small baby near one’s heart?

  13. Lynn says:

    Great responses and some really great idea, love the woven bag idea. The bustier would be cool too. I think this would make a great background for a more subtle design painted (with dye) over it, then you can see how it “speaks to you”. By the way Cheryl, I do believe tie dye started well before the ’60s.

  14. Kathleen says:

    I’m thinking the best solution for me is to sell it. That way one of you can make the woven bag or whatever. I think it is best to auction it, proceeds donated to the Red Cross.

    Quin: I know you can’t tell from the photo but the original color didn’t discharge.

    There is only 15 or so square feet of this. That is not very much, not enough to follow most of any of these suggestions. 15 sq ft is about one yard of 50″ fabric only there is waste because it’s a hide with areas you shouldn’t or can’t use, uneven edges etc.

  15. Anita McAdam says:

    I have been following your blog for many years and finally I cannot resist the urge to comment. I too love the tie-dye leather. At the moment intense complex digital prints in body con styles are all the rage here in Australia. So I have made an image of two styles using your leather and wonder if I can paste it into this comment? Mmmh…please advise how I can share the image (small jpeg file)? Thx

  16. Robyn says:

    Hmmm. I don’t think it looks all that ugly at all! I think a simple bag would be cool and it would be plenty for that. I didn’t read all of the responses, so perhaps that was already suggested.

  17. Natasha E says:

    I’m not sure why you’d even want to tie dye leather. Needless to say I’m not a fan but someone will love it. I have a friend who likes anything that’s in clown colors.

  18. Cristy Lee says:

    I went on eBay to check this out and didn’t find a listing yet. I’m new here so no fair judging me yet but I’m imagining this made into some elbow length gloves to go with some of my winter coats. (And as an added bonus, the tie dye will serve as a camouflage to hide what’s sure to be imperfections in my first attempt at gloves. And good move on the donation to Sandy relief efforts!

  19. Anita McAdam says:

    Still love it! 18 sq ft is not as much as it sounds. My leather jackets (not long) take at least 25-30 sq ft. So this 18 sg ft is a waistcoat, bag, 1/2 jacket, part dress at the most.

  20. hi there,

    i have been searching the net to locate where i can get specific info on how to tie dye or resist dye leather. and I came across this site which I love by the way. I would be so grateful if you could advise what types of dyes were used and what was used to strip the colour. Did you need to treat the leather prior to the dying process. I have been trying to get some advise for over a year with little success.

    Thanks so much in advance

    • kathleen says:

      Even if there were a tutorial on how to do it, there are so many variables that you’d still end up experimenting. On every single hide. The leather I showed here was an experiment.

      I didn’t treat the leather except I probably wet it down to prevent dramatic dye saturation simply by having been wet. As far as dye, I am sure I used the cheap stuff you buy in the store because I don’t recall every buying the good stuff from a place like Dharma. I’m partial to the wet Rit dye so I probably used that. I did this piece a long time ago. Probably close to 15 years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.