How to make leather watch straps (with pictures)

Isn’t it way too cool to have a leather watch on your wrist? Today we will show you how to make your own watch straps from real leather. This will take a while so make your seat comfortable and let’s get into this ?

There are some tools that you will need to get things done

  1. Leather (color of your choice): I choose veg-tan leather imported from Italy
  2. Medium grit sandpaper, 200-400
  3. Needle and thread – for leather use
  4. Optional: Cardboard or watch strap exemplar (To do pattern)
  5. Pen (to write and mark down things ?)
  6. Ruler or t-square
  7. X-acto or sharp knife
  8. Skiver – For thinning the ends of the leather
  9. Scissors
  10. Hammer – To punch holes
  11. Diamond Chisels (one big and small sizes)
  12. Contact cement – For gluing the ends of the leather
  13. Watch pins and buckle, or use from a donor strap
  14. Bone folder – For folding the ends of the leather
  15. Edge Kote (Se Viền)– For burnishing the edges of the leather
  16. Groover
  17. Lighter (to burn the spare thread)
  18. Optional: Leather dying Liquid

The tools might change due to your use demand. No strict rule at all.

Let’s move on to the action.

  • If you already have your pattern designs right there, that’s great! If not, no panic at all, a lot of patterns, designs all over Internet. You can easily go to Pinterest or Instagram to find more ideas for a cool watch leather straps. Otherwise, there are exemplars which I use for today and it’s totally convenient that helps drawing the lines easier.
  • So basically you may need to draw the border according to the straps exemplars on a cardboard. Cut them off then cut the leather according to the patterns. It sounds redundant but it’s important step since you might want to adjust the design as your wish on paper before cutting the leather that based on it. If you do it directly on leather, there is no change to undo it.

The width of your leather watch straps should be based on the watch you want to put it on and/or your donor strap.

Cutting the leather out to size:

Now you’ve got 2 main pieces for the straps. you will need to cut out more little thin pieces with same length of main straps to pad inside. This will make the band look nicer and stiffer as well as keeping them in good shape. 02 shorter ones as the straps loop and another 02 leather pieces that are bigger than your main straps for the back side of the band. Glue them with contact cement

Like this….

It is essential to trim the edge of the pad in order to make it smooth when you place the bigger leather pieces on the straps to cover the center mold.  When you fold the leather, it won’t be too thick, which only make it hideous and uncomfortable to wear so use xacto knife to sand it out lightly. Skiving the ends of the straps

Ok! You’re doing a great job! Next up, switch to the bigger pieces. Use your pen to mark out the place to fold. Around 1-1.5 centimes from the border

The next step is to thin out the leather at the fold points. I used an xacto knife and scraped back an forth switching direction once in a while. if it isn’t thinned down it would be too bulky but It doesn’t need to be drastically thinner than the rest of the leather but just enough to make it fold easier.

All done skiving. If done properly, the thickness of the folded end (double layer) should be about equivalent to the normal thickness of a single layer of the leather.

  • Place Watch pins at the pen mark, which is also the place the fold in the strap will be. Glue the thin part then fold back onto itself

Use the bone folder to rub the leather piece, you will see the center mold gradually showing through

Need to press it hard so that the mold will show clearly and nicely.

  • Since the bottom piece (main straps as mentioned) was the one cut from the template, the top piece (the bigger pieces) will be attached, then have the rest trimmed off. Do the same with the other half, the one that will attach watch buckle. On this step, you should have a ruler to assist for this kind of cut. On the other half that attaches buckle, punch a small hole at the margin for the clutch to be pinned on.

Making straps loop

With 02 thin leather pieces, you’re ready to make the strap loops. Take a note that you should place one strap on another then wrap a thin leather around them to measure the length of the loop. This should not be too tight nor too loose. Make sure that it still has a little space so that the loop can move along the strap to adjust while using.  Remember to skive both ends so that it won’t be bulked up where they’re folded onto each other when creating the loop. You’ll want it to be roughly half the thickness of the rest of the strap. Same like you have done in earlier step with the main straps. Be careful not to ripe it!

  • . Then burnishing all of them lightly on the edges with Edge Kote and sandpaper

You can easily find this liquid in leather store

how to make leather watch straps

Rub the edge

Ok! Move on to the next section: Preparing for leather sewing

  •  It is a bit difficult to make the holes an equal distance apart and all in line so using a ruler and pen to mark their positions is necessary. However, marking with pen might leave some stains and I don’t like it so I choose an alternative way is that damping your band with water to make the leather softer, easier to groove. Use the groover to mark the sewing path along the edge. I recommend using the ruler as a guide to make the lines straight.

Punch Holes For Stitching Around

This is where the chisels and hammer come in. According to the line you just made in previous step, let’s punch some holes along the edge to prepare for next step. The holes come out clean and consistent, and the slightly larger holes make sewing a breeze. The chisels also come in several different spacings and sizes so you will need to decide which one suits your leather watch straps most. . You can use an awl and hammer or a hole punch also works

Punch! Punch! Punch!


After finishing punching holes, dying the color favorite color to your watch straps is optional. I used light brown for mine and it should be dyed before being stitched.

Sew em’ all!

This is a fairly easy step. Just go through each of the holes and once you get to the end. Then just tie it off and depending on the type of thread burn the ends

how to make leather watch straps

Burnishing the edges is essentially polishing them. It not only creates a smooth finished edge, it also protects the leather and will make it last much longer.

Final details

This is the last step, I put the conditioner on it at this stage but congratulations and enjoy your watch strap. The true beauty of this strap will develop over time as a patina evolves.


That’s how to make leather straps

If you planning to visit Hoi An, Blue Lotus leather handmade workshop is the best place to visit and we provide the best experience to do when you are here even if you have experienced working with leather before or not. Best way to craft your real leather goods from scratch (design patterns, cut leather, do punch holes, hand-sew and personalize). We’re always here to help you design what best fits your needs.

So don’t hesitate to join us for a fun workshop in Hoi An. Good vibes, good music, best coffee in town included 😉


Blue Lotus Leather & Coffee Shop

Address: 98 Hung Vuong, Hoi An, Vietnam

Hotline: + 84 916-183-279


There are 2 comments

  1. david 4 years ago

    Love your post! What weight veg tan leather do you use or recommend!? 🙂 Thanks!

  2. mcmr@topmail,ie 3 years ago

    One of the best on line tutorials I have ever seen congratulations

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