There’s something you should know about me.  It’s one of those things that’s just NOT mentioned in my family, especially around my sweet, darling little parrot daughter.  I can clearly imagine standing in a busy line moments before Maddy decides that today is the day for me to face my ultimate humiliation…

“My mommy’s a trash digger!”

Gulp.

Yeah… It’s a problem, I know.  BUT I JUST CAN’T HELP MYSELF! Especially when my trash digging ends up looking as cute as this:

The trash diggin’ in this particular case happened at the car dealership that my mom works at.  Some nut (I say that moments after I confess to being a trash digger) was going to throw these beautiful scraps of car seat leather in the garbage.  *Gasp* The horror!

So, I decided to pick them out recycle them, because I knew these poor overlooked scraps had many miles still left on their engines (please excuse my poor attempt at a car pun).

However, you don’t have to go begging leather scraps off your local car dealership to make this necklace.  You’d be surprised how much unwanted leather there may be lying around your house!  Old belts, thrifted purses, and (as Disney over at Ruffles And Stuff pointed out), the good old leather cosmetic cases man bags.  ^_^  My husband happens to have a few of these that are on my “search and destroy upcycle” system now…  Thanks for the tip, Disney!  **NOTE: Disney was just posted in Fresh Style Magazine!!  Read about it and congratulate her here.

If you don’t have any old leather lying around, most craft stores sell bags of scraps for around $10, which contain more than enough leather to make multiple necklaces.  Not too much money for hours of crafting fun – right up my ally!

Ok, on to the tutorial.  Here is what you’ll need:

You will also need a pen, some small bits of felt, and a bead or two for your flower.  I know, I know.  Easy enough to photograph.  But hey, this is my first tutorial… I’m new at this.

step 1: After deciding how large you want your leaves to be, create a tracing template out of cardboard.  (I’m normally more of a free-hand-it kind of gal, but my scraps were fairly limited and I didn’t want to waste any.)  Trace your template onto the leather.

step 2: Continue tracing until you have the desired amount of leaves.  DON’T cut them out just yet.  It makes the next step much easier if the leaves are still on one leather sheet.

step 3: Create holes for your jump rings by nailing through your leather scraps onto a spare piece of wood.

step 4: The leather has a tendency to want to close around the holes, so I worked it around the nail a bit, pushing it up…

step 5: …and down.  (Did this actually require it’s own step?  I guess so.)

step 6: Cut out your leather leaves.  (Again, this didn’t actually warrant a completely different step.  Can you tell I’m new at this?)

step 7: Layer the leather leaves together the way you want them to hang on the necklace.  I have just enough here to make a few necklaces.

step 8: Insert jump rings into your leather leaves using the pliers I forgot to mention in “Materials Needed”.

step 9: Honestly, I’m not completely sure what I was trying to show with this step…  Line your leather leaves up nice n’ pretty?  Ok, yeah.  Let’s go with that.

step 10: I bought a $2.99 packaged, chunky chain from Joann’s, so I’m not sure how many inches it was.  All I know is that it was long. All I did was drape the chain around my neck, marking where I wanted it to lay and leaving a tail for the leaves.  Oh, and please forgive the extremely yellow photo – those florescent lights are killer and I’m still learning the Photoshop tricks of the trade.

step 11: Cut the excess off the chain.  And yes, that’s supposed to be a smiley face.  I hang out with a two-year-old all day and I’m easily amused, what more can I say?

step 12: Insert a jump ring where you want the chain to link right above the tail.  Leave the jump ring open.

step 13: Insert the jump ring at the appropriate place on the chain.  I found that it helped to drape the chain around my neck again, but that’s just me.

step 14: Close the jump ring.  (Really?!  You have to close the jump ring for it to work?  I’m a little peeved at myself for treating you all like my two-year-old.  Ugh… sorry.)

step 15: Cut the chain at the neck of the necklace.  Yeah, I’m squinting, too.  Ouch.

step 16: Attach a toggle or clasp to the chain.

step 17: Attach the leather leaves.  It’s starting to look cute at this point!  **NOTE: I ended up hot gluing the leaves together because I thought they were too floppy.  But again, that’s just me.

step 18: Now for the organza flowers.  Cut multiples of three different size organza circles – small, medium, and large.  Like I previously mentioned, I’m an organic cutter (read: I don’t usually use templates).  I normally freehand three of each size circle per flower, but it could be more or less depending on how full you want your flower to look.  If buying organza from a fabric store, I’ve found that 1/4 of a yard will yield three to four flowers that are about this size.

step 19: I’ve used everything from large candles to lighters to singe the edges of my organza flowers.  But after many failed attempts (and burns), I’ve found that tea light candles are the best way to go.  In case you’ve never made organza flowers before, the goal is to slightly burn the edges of the circle so they ever-so-lightly curl towards the center.  You do this not by touching the edges to the flame itself, but by finding that tiny trail of heat coming off the flame.  BE CAREFUL, because the heat will burn completely through the fabric if you keep the organza circle hovering over it too long.

step 20: Gather the organza “petals” of your flower.  You can see where I burned through the edges on some of the smaller petals.  However, I ended up keeping them because I really liked the organic, natural look of them.

step 21: My secret weapon for making organza flowers – a flat head pin stuck through a piece of felt and sandwiched in place by hot-gluing a second piece of felt onto the bottom.

step 22: Still here?  Wow, I’m impressed because this is turning out to be one looooong tutorial.  Alright, let’s keep going.  Layer your organza petals into the pin from largest to smallest.

step 23: As my daughter likes to say: “Ta-Da!”  You now have the beginnings of a beautiful organza flower blossom.

step 24: Gently pinch the petals together and ease your threaded needle through your organza flower, while still keeping the fabric on the flathead pin.  I find that if I take the flower off the flathead pin before I’ve stitched it a few times, it has a tendency to be off-centered and noticeably crooked.

step 25: Once you’ve stitched through it a few times, it’s safe to take the organza flower off the flathead pin.  Leave the needle and thread still attached to the flower, for you’ll need it again on the next step.

step 26: Sew your choice of seed beads, pearls, or buttons into the middle of your organza flower.  Bear with me everyone, we’re almost done.

step 27: Cut two circles out of your felt – one large, one small.

step 28: Hot glue the small circle directly onto the flower, using it to cover the stitches.  Turning the flower upside down, drape the intersecting “Y” of the chain onto the small felt circle now glued onto the organza flower.  Glue the chain in place and put the larger of the felt circles on top of it all.

And that’s it!  You’re done!  All you have to do now is get all glammed up and frost yourself with your necklace wearable artwork.

Anybody else hate pictures of themselves as much as I do?

Still learning the art of taking my own picture in the mirror.  Some people are able to pull it off and still look like a hot super model (what’s your secret, Disney?).

If you don’t mind a tutorial as long as an encyclopedia, then I’d love to see your creations!  Post pictures on my flickr stream of what you made using this tutorial.  Thank you so much for taking the time to craft with me!  Keep Shabby Beach Nest on your radar, for although this is a brand new blog, there’s lots more fun coming your way in days to come!!