DIY Project: Leather Folders

Design*Sponge | DIY Project: Leather Folders
I’m an avid believer in surrounding ourselves with things that inspire our work, because after all, work is what we spend most of our time doing. Though, maybe we can’t exactly watch our favorite TV shows or sip on scotch while we work (as much as I know that those things inspire me), we can always personalize the very things we work with every day to make them a bit more special. So for the papers, receipts, notebooks, tablet, e-reader – whatever it is that you keep around your workspace – these leather file folders will provide chic, stylish and fun storage for them. –Amy Kim

Click through for the full how-to after the jump!

-leather (smaller folder uses an 8.5 x 11″ piece and larger folder uses an 11.5 x 18″ piece) *We used black and natural leather we found online
-rotary cutter and/or X-ACTO knife
-two leather stitching needles
-waxed thread
-leather awl


markings1. Use a pencil and ruler to draw out the tab shapes on opposite ends of the leather.

rotary cutter2. Cut along the pencil lines with a rotary cutter and/or X-ACTO knife while holding a ruler right along the lines for straight cutting.

You should end up with a piece of leather that looks like this:

filer folder cutout

mallet3. Fold over the leather so that the bottom edge comes up just a little short of lining up with the top edge and use a mallet to pound along the fold. Cover the leather with a towel to protect it from mallet marks.

threaded4. Thread a stitching needle and poke the needle through the thread.

twisted5. Pull the needle through the thread, then twist the thread tight.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to the other end of the thread.

awl 17. Pierce a hole with a leather awl through both layers of leather near the bottom corner of the folder.

stitch 18. Insert one needle into the holes and pull it through until the center of the thread is between the two holes.

9. Switch the needles to the opposite hands and pass them through the same holes again one at a time. This creates a double loop with the thread.

pulled tight10. Pull both ends of the thread tight.

awl 2

11. Pierce another hole along the edge of the folder.

stitch 2

12. Insert the needle on one end through the hole to the opposite side and pull it through tightly.

stitch 3

13. Insert the needle on the other end through the same hole to the opposite side and pull tightly.

14. Repeat steps 10-13 along the entire edge.

15. At the last hole, knot each end of the thread and cut off the excess.


16. Lightly pass a lighter flame over each knot a few times. You’ll see the wax from the thread melt into a ball.

17. Repeat steps 5-16 on the opposite edge of the folder.

DIY Leather Files

Black and natural leather file folders


Leather File Folders


  1. Jillian says:

    where do you buy the leather?

  2. Vajra says:

    I love this so much! I’ve been holding back from DIY projects because I’d doing a major decluttering, but these folders are so beautiful I may not be able to refrain

  3. Rochelle says:

    I love this project, and I just happen to have some leather scraps in my workroom. Thanks for the day’s inspiration.

  4. These are not only beautiful, but way more durable than my normal folders!

  5. Kate says:

    I LOVE THESE! Unfortunately I have zero sewing or drill skills, so I’ll just have to long after these pictures :)

    Kate at ummmnowwhat

  6. I love these! So smart, simple, sophisticated – perfect!

  7. Emmy says:

    These are so beautiful and practical!

  8. Wow. This is such an awesome DIY! I love that you can re-purpose leather scraps with this project. I definitely need to try this one day.

  9. Caitlin says:

    These are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Alex says:

    Hello! Where can I buy same leather online?

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Hi Alex

      Please see my comment above ^


  11. That is such a beautiful idea and seems to be easy to make…maybe you could use studs instead of the thread?

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Hamburg von Innen + Verena

      You totally could- I just prefer the minimal thread look. But studs would get the job done. :)


  12. margaret says:

    These are beautiful. Have might use old & ugly leather coats – might try with grommets or studs…

  13. Alix says:

    A gorgeous idea, but unfortunately way beyond my crafting capabilities! Now, if I could *buy* them somewhere…

  14. These are so cool and modern!! And look easy enough too.:)

  15. Theresa says:

    What a great way to step up your work space! Wish I’d seen this before I did my post on office essentials!

    As soon as I have the spare $$$ I’ll be attempting this diy :)


  16. ali mufid says:

    That is such a beautiful idea and seems to be easy to make…maybe you could use studs instead of the thread?

  17. adm says:

    I’m actually pretty disappointed to be seeing this “CREATIVE DIY PROJECT” as I have been making these for two years now.
    This is not right.

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      I’m sorry that you feel this idea is too similar to your product. I know how it feels to have work taken without credit, but I’m afraid that is not the case with this project.

      Leather folders, envelopes and portfolios have existed for a long time and have been a part of our office DIYs for years. We were looking to build off of this project from 2011 and we looked at several sources of inspiration for this project (the majority of which were produced more than 2 years ago) and chose the leather colors, natural and black, based on the most popular colors we’ve used in the past 5 years of leather DIY projects.


  18. Chloe says:

    I was inspired by your post, and created my own DIY document portfolio.
    with reference to this post. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. Kelly says:


    Do you realize how many people make hacks, and diy similar off products from stores and brands? Ex. Search on Pinterest “West Elm DIY”. I see that you might feel that this may take sales away from you since it’s similar. Unless you’ve trademarked the idea, it is free for all.

  20. Cassie says:

    Thanks for sharing this tutorial! Are the gold/glass bowls and cup in the last image also DIY? I would love to know how you made them!

  21. Rachel says:

    Totally loved the DIY. I’m definitely doing this one :)
    But, I was wondering what kind of thread is the one you used?
    Maybe a wax covered thread or something like that?
    xoxo from Spain

  22. Kay says:

    Rachel, I would use a heavy ‘upholstery’ or rug thread. Hemp or linen would be good, and one that’s waxed.

  23. MonBanez says:

    it seems a bit difficult to follow.

  24. TheInject says:

    This a good idea, i think with Suede it would be good too :)
    Thanks for sharing !

  25. Kim says:

    SO Classy! How much larger did you cut your leather for each folder size? And how far from the outer edges did you start your stitches? Thx!

  26. Analily says:

    Great + fun project!
    $$$ or lack of it should not be an obstacle to not give a project or creativity a try! Go to a thrift store, purchase an old leather jacket, cut it following the pattern and, voila!
    Who knows, one may be up to a great business and start REUSING, RECYCLING leather envelopes, pouches, bracelets, purses, etc., and final product may be more relevant!!!


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