One of the most fun projects I’ve worked on lately is faux leather earrings. They are quick to make, relatively inexpensive, and a great way to express your creativity. As soon as I completed my first pair, I was hooked (no pun intended 😉 !).
(Be sure to read all the way down to the bottom to find out more about the giveaway.)(The giveaway has ended.)
Working with faux leather can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right settings and a few helpful tips, it’s as easy as working with paper or vinyl. When I first decided to experiment with faux leather, I thought I would need to use my Curio and/or my deep-cut blade. I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to cut using my Cameo and a regular blade, making this project suitable for all Cameo models as well as the Portrait or Portrait 2.
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For purposes of this tutorial, I tried three different types of faux leather:
- Faux leather ribbon by Ribbon Boutique (Hobby Lobby)
- Silhouette Leatherette Sheets
- Faux leather purchased by the yard from my local Walmart
As much as I wanted the faux leather ribbon to work (because it comes in some really beautiful colors), I did not have much success. It’s thin, stretchy, and prone to peeling. I plan to keep working with it and will let you know in a future post if I find a technique that works.
Update: After a lot of trial and error, I’ve discovered a technique that works pretty well with the Hobby Lobby faux leather ribbon. Click here to read some tips and tricks for using this material with your Silhouette machine.
The Silhouette Leatherette worked “ok” but I found it to be a bit thin as well. It does come in some gorgeous colors though and the gold color (which looks more like pewter to me) was perfect for my daughter.
The winner – by far – in my comparison was the faux leather that I purchased by the yard. It comes in several colors, has a nice thickness (without being too bulky), and cuts like a dream. I purchased mine at Walmart but you can also find it in fabric stores or online.
Ribbon Boutique Faux Leather Ribbon
8” x 24” roll
MSRP: $4.99 (but can be purchased with a 40% off coupon or often on sale for $2.49)
Cost per square inch: 2.6 cents (1.6 cents with coupon or 1.3 cents on sale)
Silhouette Leatherette Sheets
8.5” x 11” sheets (3 sheets per pack – gold, cream, black)
MSRP: $6.99 ($5.99 at Swing Design)
Cost per square inch: 2.5 cents (2.1 cents at Swing Design)
Faux leather purchased by the yard
54” – 60” widths
Cost per square inch: less than 1 cent (approx .4 cents per square inch)
As you can see, not only was the faux leather yardage easier to work with, it was much more economical!!!
But enough about facts and figures – let’s make some earrings!!!
All screenshots are from Silhouette Studio, Version 4.1
What you’ll need:
- Earring design
- Faux leather
- (4) round jump rings (I used 4mm.)
- (2) fishhook earwires (I used 21mm.)
- Round tip jewelry pliers
- Adhesive (I used my Xyron machine.)
Update: After this tutorial was published, I discovered Double J Earwires from Craft Chameleon. They are SO much easier to use than jump rings and earwires. Craft Chameleon also now sells some leatherette that works very well for faux leather earrings and comes in a wide variety of patterns and colors.
Step 1: Choose your design & open it in Silhouette Studio
I found this design on Etsy Studio.
It contains 8 variations of a teardrop-shaped earring and I chose the design labeled “Hteardrop4”. You could also draw your own design, purchase one, trace an image from the internet, or search for a freebie to download. Popular designs include teardrops, feathers, and geometric shapes.
If you are using the Basic Edition of Silhouette Studio, you will not be able to open the SVG file and your best bet will be to use the DXF file that’s included in this set. You can also use the PNG file and trace it, but you may have difficulty getting smooth cut lines. (I highly recommend Designer Edition. It contains many nice features in addition to the ability to open SVG and PDF files and is well worth the cost. The upgrade can be purchased here.)
Tip: Before making any adjustments, save the design with a new filename so you don’t accidentally overwrite the original file.
Step 2: Decide on the finished size & resize if necessary
This is really a matter of personal preference. The SVG version of the design I purchased measured 1.25” x 2.169” which was a bit too large for my tastes, so I chose to reduce it to a width of approximately 1”.
Before you resize, keep in mind that the hole for the jump ring needs to stay the same size as the original design. If you reduce it, not only will it be too small for the hardware, but it will be difficult to cut. If you are making earrings from your own design, the jump ring hole needs to be approximately 0.1” diameter.
In order to keep the hole the same size when reducing the overall size of the design, you’ll need to release the compound path and make a few adjustments. (If you are using the DXF file, skip steps 1-3.)
- Make a copy of the original design and move it into the grey area that’s off the mat (known as the “holding space”). This will provide you with an unedited copy should you need to refer to it later.
- Select the design that remains on the mat. Change the line color to something that is easily distinguishable from the fill color. (The original design is filled with navy blue, so I made the line color red. I also chose to change the fill color to a lighter blue.)
- Choose Object > Release Compound Path. The entire image will turn to one color and you will see bounding boxes around the individual pieces of the design.
- Select the hole and move it away from the earring design. (If you are using the DXF file, the hole will need to be resized to approximately 0.1” diameter.)
- Select the remaining portions of the design and group them together (CTRL/CMD + G).
- Resize by either dragging the corner handles or entering your desired dimensions in the Scale Tool. If using the Scale Tool, be sure that the Aspect Ratio is LOCKED.
- Move the hole back into the desired position. (If it disappears behind the earring design, choose Object>Arrange>Bring to Front.) Select the earring design and the hole and choose Object>Align>Align Center.
- Select all parts of the earring design and choose Object>Make Compound Path. The design will now become white, but when you fill it with color again you will able to see the detail.
- Depending on how much you have decreased the size of the design, you may want to eliminate any portions that you feel will be too small to cut. The easiest way to do this is by selecting the design and using the Point Editing Mode to delete the points of the unwanted portions.
Step 3: Duplicate
In order to make a PAIR of earrings, you’ll need to duplicate your design by either copying and pasting or choosing Object>Replicate>Duplicate Right. If the design is not symmetrical, make one earring a mirror image of the other, by choosing Object>Replicate>Mirror Right.
With only the replicated design selected, Choose Object>Rotate>Rotate by 180°. This will nest the two designs in such a way to save material while adding a bit of space between the cut lines.
Step 4: Mirror the image
Not only is the faux leather very lightweight, but it also has a cloth backing that’s often white and not as attractive when viewed on the reverse. To remedy this, I made the earrings double-sided. Adding the second layer gives the earrings a nice weight (without being too heavy) and a much more attractive appearance.
To make the second layer, select both earrings and choose Object>Replicate>Mirror Right. (I recommend doing this even if your design is symmetrical, as opposed to simply making a copy of the design. Mirroring the image will assure that the front and back match up perfectly.) Select the two replicated designs and move them slightly to the right to allow space between the designs.
Step 5: Cut
Place the faux leather on your mat. Make sure it is laying flat and adhered well. Make a Test Cut and adjust your settings as necessary. The settings that worked best for me were:
Blade: 10 Speed: 1 Force: 18 Passes: 1
Step 6: Finishing
You will need to adhere the front and back pieces together using glue or another type of adhesive. My Xyron machine made this step a cinch. If using liquid glue, be sure that all surfaces are covered and wipe away any excess that seeps out from the edges.
If you plan to give the earrings as a gift, an earring holder from the Silhouette Design Store makes a nice touch. (Design pictured is #14053.)
Wasn’t that fun! I admit that I’m a little bit obsessed with these earrings right now and can’t wait to try some new designs and more types of faux leather. What about you? Are you going to give it a try?
To help you get started, I’m giving away a sample pack of faux leather along with a Premium Blade. The entry form is at the bottom of this post. Recipient must be a US resident, age 18 or older. Entry deadline is January 21, 2018 at 11:59pm CST. Winner will be chosen at random on January 22, 2018 and notified via email and announced on my Facebook page.
If you’ve already been working with faux leather, do you have some tips to share? Post a comment below or come join my Facebook group. It’s always great to hear from you!
Until next time,
Lycia is a lifelong crafter whose goal is to help others find value, confidence, and joy in whatever they create. She geeks out on using technology to supercharge craft projects with Silhouette Studio, Design Space, Glowforge, sublimation, etc.! Lycia teaches these skills and more through online tutorials and videos as well as in-person classes at both the local and national levels.