Remote Control Holder – Leather Wrap Handle

Today we’re making over a thrift store wooden caddy by turning it into a remote control holder and answering the age-old question: how do I keep my remote organized? Do you always lose your remote controls too? This one will keep your remotes in one handy spot!

I like to come up with interesting alternatives, like this remote control caddy for Hubs’ DIY Man Cave. But this remote control organizer is for our other TV. Since it’s missing the lid, it’s just begging to be upcycled into a remote control holder! And I’m off to a great start with this wood caddy and a few supplies:

Materials for remote control holder: wooden caddy, scrap leather, waxed thread and hole punch

Plan for Remote Control Holder

Aside from giving the remote control holder a beachy feel using white gel stain, we’re also making a leather grip wrap on the handle! Leather grips are all the rage on golf clubs, tennis rackets and motorcycles, so why not a remote control holder? For that matter, this technique can be used on anything with a handle!

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How do you Wrap a Leather Handle?

Watch this video to see how I apply gel stain and turn a cheap thrift store caddy into a luxe remote control holder with leather handle!

International Bloggers Club – Leather Challenge
It’s time for another International Bloggers Club (IBC) challenge and this month our theme is Pleatherable Leather. The IBC is a group from all over the world who challenge each other every month to make something using a common theme. Our previous challenge was ‘Cardboard Creations‘ and we created a unique lampshade makeover DIY out of a tissue box!

You’ll find our friends’ upcycled leather ideas at the bottom of the post. So don’t forget to check them out before you go. And if you don’t have time to browse today, pop back in later in the week to pick up where you left off.

Remote Control Holder Supplies

Upcycled Leather

Although Earth Day is fast approaching, every day is Earth Day at Birdz of a Feather! A few weeks ago Hubs picked up these leather scraps from a leather maker for only $10.   Better in my craft studio than in land fill! But when it rains, it pours: I also found a discarded leather sofa on garbage day so harvest the leather from that too!  This may be my first leather DIY, but I now have loads of leather to upcycle so there will definitely be more projects to come.

scrap leather for remote control holder handle

Here’s the wooden thrift store caddy before. It has the kind of deep groves reminiscent of our faux barn board technique.

It also looks very much like Shou Sugi Ban, so the sky is the limit for the ways you could finish this wood. Shou Sugi Ban is a Japanese wood burning technique to treat cedar siding to make to make it weather proof. Although this cedar has the distinct look, I’m keeping the finish simple. But if you want other ideas on how to decorate this style of wood, you have to visit my friend Anita for her mind blowing Shou Sugi Ban creations!

thrifted caddy for remote control holder; wooden cedar with plastic lacing on handle

Wood Caddy Drawer

You’ll notice the water stains. So the first thing I do is pull out the drawer and wet the whole thing down and set it aside to dry. And it works! The stain is no longer as apparent when I stain it!

Side view of caddy for remote control holder showing water stains on side

Then I remove the felt drawer lining and make a replacement out of vinyl wallpaper. The wallpaper is also upcycled – from a wallpaper sample book.

Felt pulled from drawer of remote control holder

Instead of cutting out 5 pieces, like originally, I make a one piece template. First, I cut a paper template.

Paper pattern for inside drawer

Once I’m sure the paper pattern will fit, I do the same out of the wallpaper. Score all fold lines with a ruler and tracing wheel.

Scoring wallpaper for new drawer lining using tracing wheel and grid ruler

And then bend it along the lines, burnishing it.

Burnishing folds in wallpaper for new drawer liner using handle of tracing wheel

For anything that sticks above the edge, you can trim the wallpaper back with a utility knife held flat against the edge. Be careful and cut away from yourself.

newly lined remote control holder drawer with double side tape

There happens to be enough adhesive to hold the wallpaper insert in place. But for the edges, I add a piece of double side tape.

How to Apply Gel Stain to Remote Control Holder

In order to gel stain the wood without obstruction, I decide to pull the handle off.

Unfortunately, it isn’t screwed on; it’s held on by metal prongs. So I have to use pliers.

Once they are bent back, I can remove the handle.

I love the smell of cedar, but the colour is quite drab. So I’m using Voodoo Gel Stain to perk it up. If you’re ever curious to see how a product will look first, try it out in an inconspicuous spot. If you look closely at the video, you’ll see I tested first on the bottom of this caddy.

To apply it, I’m trying out these new foam brushes and I have to say I’m impressed with the performance. Not only do they not leave streaks, but the foam stands up to the of the wood. I know that cheap dollar store foam brushes would just shred on this rough wood, but these are tough and durable!

I dampen the brush with a little water first before applying the gel stain. Since this gel stain is water based, you can also add more water to thin it out so more of the wood shows through.

applying gel stain to remote control holder with a foam brush

Notice that I leave some of the natural colour cedar. Tape can help mask the areas you don’t want to gel stain.

I question that choice, but as soon as we add the leather, it will tie it all together!

White Voodoo gel stain on cedar wood remote control holder

As the gel stain dries, we can cut the leather for the caddy handle!

Cut the Leather

Preferably, use a sewing tape measure to determine the circumference of the handle. I couldn’t find mine so make a paper pattern instead.

Because I find it doesn’t mar the leather, I use a Fons and Porter ceramic chalk pencil to mark as I measure. Use a rotary cutter and self healing mat to cut the leather to size. A self healing mat is just as much for safety as well as it is to keep the blade from dulling.

Initially, when I went to wrap the leather around the handle of the caddy, it was too small; there was a whopping 1/2 inch gap.

But then after removing the plastic lacing, I find that the leather stretches while sewing. Just keep in mind that the leather should stretch to fit tight – that’s what you want. So, after trying this for the first time, I think it’s best to add at least 1/4″ to whatever circumference you get. You can even cut it a little bigger to test it out before punching holes and adjust. After all, you can always take away, but you can’t add.

Watch the video to see my tips on cutting!

Score a line 3/16″ in from the edges. I just use the metal tip of a retractable pencil (with lead retracted) to mark it.

Piece of leather scored for stitching onto handle of remote control holder

Punching Holes in Leather

If you have a leather wheel or prong punch, you can use those to mark or cut the holes, respectively.

Since I don’t have any of those tools, I use the retractable pencil tip once again to mark my holes, starting with 1/8″ from the edge and then 3/16″ in between. A grid ruler helps with this task!

Then I punch the holes with this rotary punch tool set to the small hole size. This punch is old, and belongs to Hubs, but it’s still going strong. It’s one of the only tools I didn’t have a duplicate of when we got married!

Rotary hole punch punching through leather for handle of remote control holderInstead of punching each side, on a test piece of leather, I try doubling over to punch through the holes on one side, but it’s tricky to keep the edges even.

However you end up punching your holes, do make sure that they are even and parallel to each other! You’ll notice anything off kilter once the leather is stitched onto the remote control holder.

Punched holes on either side of leather for hand stitching to handle of remote control holder

How to Leather Wrap a Handle

There are so many types of leather stitching to choose from. But for this project we’re going to cross stitch the leather together onto the handle.

What is the Best Thread for Leather?

For hand stitching, you can buy natural and synthetic threads such as linen, polyester and nylon threads specifically made for leather. Whatever you choose to use, be sure to purchase one that is pre-waxed – or you can even wax your own thread! This article discusses the pros and cons of each type of thread.

Weight is another consideration. I started sewing this project with the waxed linen thread shown below but it immediately snapped with the first stitch. Given the weight of my leather, a heavier thread is best. I guess it would be fine for lighter leather applications, but not this one.

The best waxed leather thread for this particular job is this polyester one from ArtMinds. It’s thicker, therefore can withstand all the pulling necessary to tighten each stitch.

What are the Different Types of Leather Stitching?

When sewing by hand, there are a few popular stitches such as the saddle stitch, cross stitch and baseball stitch. The saddle stitch is actually stronger than machine sewing and can stitch two pieces of leather together. Typically you would use a leather pony to hold the leather as you stitch. However this video shows a novel technique for sewing the saddle stitch without a pony!

For leather wrapping a handle, as we are doing here, the cross stitch and baseball stitch are both decorative and strong. We’re showing you how to do the cross stitch for this project.

How to Sew Leather by Hand

About the Needles

Sewing the cross stitch on leather is a two needle job. If you get into more leather work, you’ll want to purchase ‘harness needles. They come in various gauges, depending on the thickness of the tread you’re using, and have blunted tips especially for use with pre-punched holes. I just happen to have sewing needles that are blunt and they work perfectly well for this small product.

To start, measure out a length of thread and cut. I measure about 6 times the length of my leather and then double that. then thread both sides of the thread.

To lock the thread in place and keep it from slipping out of the holes, wrap the end around twice. on the second pass, insert the needle through the thread, splitting it in two. Pull the end down past the eye of the needle, then pull to tighten it up against the eye. This probably won’t make sense unless you watch how it’s done on the video :).

Leather Wrap the Handle

To keep the leather in place as I stitch, I use a velcro strap and tighten it around the middle.

It’s the extra set of hands I need and works like a charm! Leather handle held onto remote control holder with velcro strap

Starting in the first hole, come underneath the first set of holes with each needle. straight out the ends of the thread, then loop one side to create a bar tack.

Then with the right needle, insert it into the hole down one on the opposite side (from the outside in), then out through the hole parallel to it on the other side.

Cross stitching leather handle of remote control holder; hands holding needle with waxed thread

Pull the thread through the hole, then drop that needle.

Now with the left needle, repeat this again but insert the needle into the hole that the right-hand needle just came out of (pulling the thread forward and out of the way as shown). Pull the thread through and drop both needles.

Take the threads on each side, and pull.

Pulling the waxed thread tight after each stitch

Now wrap your fingers around the thread to get leverage and really pull tight! You must do this with each and every stitch; you can’t criss cross a few and then pull because it won’t budge. The wax will help keep it from slipping and loosening.

This will all make sense when you watch the video.

Fasten Off Thread

I’ve seen other makers singe the ends and even add glue to the last hole, but I don’t want to take the chance of damaging the leather. So to complete the ends, I bar tacked twice, instead of the once I did at the beginning. Just insert each end into the opposite hole and come back through the original hole.

Leather handle progress of remote control holder showing cross stitching

Then knot each end and snip close with scissors. Push each knot down into the hole to wedge it in.

Remote Control Holder Before and After

Here’s a reminder of the before:

remote control holder before

And now?

remote control holder after with white gel stain, new drawer lining and cross stitched leather handle

The end result is fabulous! The leather really makes a cheap thrift store caddy look luxe! I love the smell of cedar and it’s still fragrant because I left some of the wood natural. With the leather complete, I’m actually loving how it looks.

Top view of remote control holder with cross stitched leather handle

But before we can call this done, let’s grab those remotes!

Remote Control Holder Reveal

I’m not actually sure how I’ll style this on our side table upstairs so I’m trying out three different looks/accessories in my studio. If you have a preference, chime in and help me decide by leaving a comment!




Pin Remote Control Holder

If there’s anything you want to add some flare to with scrap leather or gel stain, pin one of these for later!

Pinnable image for remote control holder Pinnable image for how to apply gel stain

IBC Pleatherable Leather Challenge

Want more leather ideas? Don’t forget to visit these awesome ‘Pleatherable Leather‘ projects from our friends below. You’re in for some incredibly unique and creative diy leather ideas!

  1. Kippi at Home – Succulent Planters
  2. Unique Creations by Anita – Geometric Lion Wall Hanging
  3. Interior Frugalista – Embossed Leather Drink Coasters
  4. A Crafty Mix – Boho Leather Tillandsia Planter
  5. Birdz of a Feather – Remote Control Caddy – that’s us!

26 thoughts on “Remote Control Holder – Leather Wrap Handle

  1. I’ve never hand stitched leather before. I kinda assumed it would be like stitching fabric by hand, so I appreciate the tips. I would have done it all wrong and probably given up halfway through. BTW I love the idea of adding leather handles to stuff. We have a whole bunch of leather scraps that are just to small to use in larger projects that would be ideal.

    • Leather handles can really elevate anything. Now that I’ve had one success, I’m sure I’ll want to cover everything with scrap leather lol!

  2. We are always are looking for our remote controls too. I love your upcycled caddy with the leather covered handle. Your idea of using a velcro strap to hold the leather while you sewed it together was genius.

    • Thanks Kippi! It’s so good to finally have them organized!

  3. I so enjoyed your leather sewing tutorial Sara. I’m a huge fan of the British show, The Repair Shop and mesmerized by watching Suzie, the master saddle-maker sew her leather restorations. Such a lovely addition to your very handy remote control caddy!

    • OMG Marie – I thought that I was the show’s biggest fan lol! We just got a free preview of the channel that carries it and recorded every we could so we can binge watch it! I wish I could be a fly on the wall there. I only took a break for this project 🤣.

  4. This is perfect for remote! I’m always looking for my remote. You should sell it. People definitely would buy it. :))

    • Thanks Maria! I always find selling the most difficult part.

  5. Really great makeover on the caddy, the leather handle was a great addition. I have never stitched leather before so your tutorial will be handy. We could do with one because our remotes are always falling down the couch.

    • It would be scary to add up all the time spent looking for remotes lol!

    • That’s great Crissy! So glad you were inspired to try something 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by and extending the invite; shared 🙂

    • Can’t wait to see what else I can ‘weatherize’!

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