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A Detailed Guide on How to Dye Leather

A Detailed Guide on How to Dye Leather

Have you ever thought of dying your leather goods? Sounds crazy right! If you are someone who likes to add a pinch of your creativity in everything you do then you must try this. Although it's not that easy, leather dyeing is a subject of trial and error but with a little bit of practice, you can master this art and of course, it may sound cliche but practice makes a man perfect!

Our detailed guide will help you start from preparing the leather to finishing and sealing the leather after dyeing. Alright, let's get started.

What is Leather Dyeing?

A Detailed Guide on How to Dye Leather

Before we move forward on "how to dye leather" let's first look into "what is leather dye"? Leather Dye is a pigmented substance mixed with base substances like water, oil, and alcohol applied to leather fibers to change the original color of the Leather. To satisfy the request of the most imaginative designer and create a more diverse finish, the tanning industry has introduced dyes of synthetic origin in its tanning process.

Also Read : Is Leather Waterproof? How to Waterproof Leather?

Reasons to dye leather

Although leather in itself looks effortlessly amazing and stylish. Then why dye leather any further?

Well, there are some good reasons for dyeing leather.

  • One reason is that after certain years your favorite vintage leather bag or jacket might start to fade its original color and you can bring it to life again by dyeing it in some rocking shades. You can think of the dye as a revitalizing tonic for your leather goods.
  • Another good reason is that replacing a leather article, be it your leather bags, leather jackets, leather belts, leather shoes, and even pieces of leather furniture because of faded colors is quite expensive as compared to dyeing them.
  • Fading or color loss with time is inevitable. It happens after frequent use or exposure to the sun and will need a new coat of dye at some point.
  • Dyeing a leather piece can be the personal choice of an individual who wants something different from the usual shades of brown and black. After all, dyeing leather is an art and a way to express your creativity and imagination. 

Types of Leather Dyes

Before moving into how to dye leather, let's see how to choose the best type of leather dye? Here are some of the most popular types of Leather dyes that you can use to liven up the monotonous piece of art.

Basic Dyes

These types of dyes are among the darkest dye available and have a high color value. If the right section is used it will give full level basic shades. When exposed to light they do not light away easily and are among the brightest dyes available. So if you are planning to dye your leather in the darkest shade then go for these dyes. 

Acid Dyes

If you are looking for a fancy shade to dye your leather bags then go for acidic dyes. After adding the color, the product should be in the dye for about 15 minutes or more to get the desired level of dying. More time will ensure high color leveling. You can get colors like reds, greens, blues, or pastels with acid dyes. You can use acid dyes with any other dye except basic dyes.

Sulfur Dyes

To provide deeper penetration you can use Sulfur Dyes. It offers high light-fastness so that the dye doesn't fade away if kept in sunlight for too long and high wash-fastness to prevent washing from taking away the substance. 

Sun as a Leather Dye

If you ask how to dye leather naturally then technically sun is a natural leather dye. You can tan your leather accessories like Leather Backpack, Messenger Bag, Leather Briefcase, etc. by keeping them in sunlight for not more than 30-45 minutes. It does take time but it tans the leather naturally. Many leather crafters use this method to naturally change the colors of leather to a darker color. 

Also Check : Can You Get Leather Wet?

Leather Dye Color Mixing And Combination

To make custom leather, we can mix the existing leather dye color. Remember to mix colors in natural light as artificial light can give false colors. Try mixing the primary colors red, yellow, and blue.

Here are a few examples:

  • Black- Yellow, red, and blue
  • Brown- Violet and Orange
  • Orange- Red, and Yellow
  • Violet- Red, and Blue
  • Green- Blue, and Yellow
  • Gray- Violet and green


A Detailed Guide on How to Dye Leather

Find perfectly tanned Handmade Leather Goods

Which Type Of Leather Can Be Dyed?

Usually, most types of leather that do not have any protective finish applied can be dyed. Also, a leather piece with light original color can be dyed into a darker shade easily but a leather piece with a darker original shade cannot be easily dyed into a lighter shade. Natural vegetable-tanned leather is one of the best options for dyeing the leather. 

How to Dye Leather in 5 easy steps?

It is advisable to first try this process on a test piece of Leather to get more friendly and confident with the process before dyeing the final goods. Now, let's see how to dye leather in 5 simple steps.

Step 1 - The Collection and Preparation

  • Choose a vacant and properly ventilated area where you can start the process. The chemicals used in dyes can be highly toxic when breathed in for a longer duration. It is advisable to dye either leather outdoors or in a ventilated space.
  • Put on rubber gloves to avoid dye from getting on your hands.
  • Properly cover the workspace to protect it from dye spills. Use plastic trash bags to cover the surface.
  • The chemicals used in leather dying work best within a given range of temperature. The ideal temperature is 22 Degree Celsius with low humidity. If the atmosphere is too dry, hot, or cold, the dye won't be able to work at its best.
  • Get some cotton swabs or T-shirts for dying the corners and edges of the leather.
  • Get the suitable Leather Dye, Leather Conditioner, Leather Finish, and Vegetable Tanned Leather. 

Step 2 - Prepare Leather before Dying

  • Before we get started with the dying process the first and the important step is to clean the top surface. Use a clean cloth to gently wipe down any lingering dust and body oils.
  • Tape the parts/hardware you don't want to dye.
  • Use a light coat of Olive Oil or Jojoba Oil to hydrate the leather for it to better receive the dye. Do not use any kind of leather conditioner as it won't let the dye penetrate deep.

Step 3 - Diluted/ Cut Your Dye

  • The intensity of the dye to be used depends upon you. If you want to go for the darkest shade use non-diluted dye. But for a lighter shade, you need to cut your dye. It is advisable to dilute the dyes as it will leave room to even out any patchy areas.
  • it is highly advisable to cut/ dilute the dye with the type of base you are using. Use water to dilute water-based, alcohol for alcohol-based, oil for oil-based, and so on.

Step 4- Apply the Dye

  • Although there are many options available to apply the dye, a soft cotton rag is the best and easy option for applying the dye easily.
  • Gently apply the dye in a thin layer for the first coat in a circular motion to get an even spread.
  • Let the first coat dry completely and follow the same steps to get the desired color. Make sure to let the dye dry before you apply a second coat.
  • Once you are satisfied with the final result, allow the leather to dry completely for a whole day. Touching it at all during the drying process will ruin the finish.

Step 5 - Conditioning and Finishing the Leather

Let’s now see the final step on how to seal the leather after dyeing.

  • The chemicals used in cleaning and dyeing leather can often dry out the natural fibers. To help ensure they are maintained properly and last a long time, it’s important to condition the leather after dyeing. So, After the completion of the leather drying process, it's time to add the moisture back into the leather. For that, we use a wax-based conditioner. It re-hydrates the leather skin, seals the leather color, and further prevents it from any kind of cracks due to drying.
  • Apply the conditioner in a circular motion with a soft and clean cotton cloth. Allow the conditioner to dry and lightly buff the surface with a clean cloth to remove any excess dye from the surface of the leather.
  • After conditioning, It is important to seal the leather to protect the leather underneath and to avoid rubbing off the dye to clothes or skin. Some common finishes are carnauba wax and leather resolene. While you can choose from a variety of other available to give glossy, shiny finish or waterproof finish.

Following these easy steps, you can dye your handmade leather goods in the desired color. So now that you know how to dye leather yourself, experimenting with leather dyes and some practice will lead to achieving desired results.

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