A few months ago, I experienced a sudden and inexplicable urge to make a leather hat with an octopus on it. This nebulous idea rapidly evolved into a goat leather steampunk-inspired top hat (using this tutorial) with a bone octopus as decoration.
Almost-Hubs bought me some goat leather for this project. I measured out the crown of my head, added an inch, and then blew up the pattern in the linked tutorial to that size. If I were to do this again, I might make it a little larger -- the hat band I added at the end made the hat a bit tight.
I decided that I wanted to sew, rather than rivet, the hat together, probably because I hate myself and my poor little hands. So, once I had the pattern cut out in the goat hide, I immediately got to work punching holes that I could use for sewing. And, ouch. Don't do that in one sitting unless your hands are used to it, guys--my hands were totally covered in blisters by the end of this step.
The first step of cutting out the pattern, the leather pieces, and punching out the holes took a few evenings thanks for my blistered hand-claws. Then, I set aside a day to wet and dye the leather and sew the hat together. I soaked the goat leather pieces for 30 minutes. After they were sufficiently soaked, I dabbed the water off to lightly dry the outside. Hubs-to-be tells me this is necessary for getting the dye to stick, and, for once, I didn't argue. Then, I debossed the leather with an exacto knife and debossing tool to give it the nautical design. I next dyed the leather using a light brown on both sides. After letting the leather sit for awhile, I dyed the "land" in the design with a slightly darker brown. Once the dye was set, I polished off the leather with a shine/finish, and let that set (phew, lots of steps!). Finally, I sewed up the hat. Eight hours later, I had this:
A few days thereafter (once I recovered from all of that work), I cut out, dyed, and sewed on a hat band. Then I began the real fun: stringing fish vertebrae for the tentacles and gluing those and the replica skull to the hat to form the bone octopus. The tentacles were finished off with pearl "suckers". And voila, at least 24 hours total worth of work later, the finished product!
Finally, I made a pair of matching goat leather bracers. Pretty, right? These were way, way easier and faster to make than the hat.
While I haven't worked with cow leather before, my conversations with the boy lead me to believe that goat leather -- while thinner than cow leather -- is also a little stretchier. So, it is harder to punch holes in, and dries a little more rigidly than cow leather might. I love the feel though -- it's thin, light, and delicate, and takes dye lighter than cow leather. Hooray for first leather projects!