DIYdiy projectsmatt pierce

DIY Project: Leather Cup Jacket

by Matt

There’s something infinitely comfortable and classic about Kerr jars. They remind me of visiting my great grandma in Oklahoma and having jam at breakfast as a kid. Their look is timeless, they are easy to find and they are wonderfully replaceable when I fumble and drop one on the kitchen floor. However, a no-handle glass cup is definitely not the way to cradle a hot drink. Using some simple leatherworking skills and a few new tools, you can make a great insulator jacket. (And yes, I’m purposely avoiding the word “koozie.”) — Matt

See the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • leather scrap (I used 11oz bridle leather)
  • waxed cord thread
  • half-pint mason jars



  • rotary knife
  • cutting mat
  • metal ruler
  • leather needle
  • leather hole punch
  • leather edger
  • overstitch marker
  • stitch groover



1. First cut some leather rectangles to create the wrap. These jars are mostly straight cylinders, so don’t worry about any curvatures. If you’re using a different shaped cup, you can adjust the pattern. Cut your leather to a 2 1/4″ x 8 7/8″ rectangle.

2. Using a tool called an edger, you can round the hard edge of the leather. It’s a simple tool to use — just push it against the edge of the leather, and it will trim the corner. I edged the top and bottom, just on the front side.

3. For a decorative element, I used a stitch groover to cut small channels into the leather. It has an adjustment guide on it, so you can set it to different depths and make multiple parallel grooves. This is normally used to sink your stitches, but left open, it creates a nice contrast design in the leather.

4. Once your pieces are edged and designs have been cut, it’s time to punch holes for sewing. I used another tool, called a stitch spacer, to make perfectly spaced marks for punching holes. Make sure you start your spacing at the same place on each side so your holes align, and use a straight-edge or ruler to keep the line straight to the edges. Then with your hole punch, create holes along the stitch marks.

5. The last step is stitching. I knotted an end, started at the bottom and fully laced the seam once. Once completed, I laced back down the seam again for a strong doubled stitch. At the end, I pulled the remaining thread up through the underside of the stitch. The cord is so waxy that it will hold itself in place.

You can certainly experiment with the design on the sleeve and the stitch patterns. Maybe try stamping patterns into the leather using tools or stamps or even something like a rock to create interesting patterns and textures. There are many ways to customize it.

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  • I’m loving this idea for a votive holder too, with a few more holes punched through for light. Very pretty.

  • This is a great idea. I was thinking I would need to put away the mason jar (with plastic lid) I have been using all summer as my coffee to go cup but, this should let me use it with hot coffee as well. I’ll have to try it!

  • This also looks like a great way to disguise what you’re drinking. I’d love to never hear “gross what are you drinking” about my veggie juices again :-)

  • They’re marvelous. But washing? How is this achieved without staining/damaging the leather?

  • This is an awesome idea! I made a few tonight for a friend of mine who uses these jars as cups every day. Thanks for the idea!

  • Too bad I just bought essentially this same thing! Well, if anyone else doesn’t want to DIY it, you can buy a nice version from Holdster – http://www.holdsterusa.com/. If you want to make a jar the perfect drinks-on-the-move solution, add a Cuppow lid. They’re like a to-go coffee lid, but silicone and made to fit a Ball/Kerr jar. http://cuppow.com/

  • Thank you! I have a ton of leather scraps, some in beautiful colors like deep navy blues and gorgeous candy apple reds as well as classic tans and rich browns and some even in different textures. I ran out of ideas for them and they just sat there all year. My husband almost convinced me to give them away as they are, but I think I will be keeping myself busy with this project so I can hand them out as gifts for the holidays. Thank you so much for the awesome idea!

  • Hi Matt, nice design and nice tutorial, thank you!
    I have just one question, how thick is your waqxed cord thread?

  • Just knocked out three of these tonight! Before I laced them up I used a woodburning pen (soldering iron) and burnt illustrations and initials in to the leather. So soooo thankful for this great idea/tutorial!

  • I am having a hard time finding a site where I can buy all of the supplies. Any suggestions? I would love to make some of these for Christmas!

    • Tandy Leather is the old-school source for all things leathercraft: leather, tools, sewing supplies. You can find them online or have a catalog shipped to you. They also have physical stores. I used to visit one every once in a while when I was in Boy Scouts. (www.tandyleather.com)