This holiday I went to the Christmas market in Grand Central Station, NYC. If you live in the area and love crafts, you should go. I saw a booth of leather items (everything from key fobs to purses) that had photographed images on them. I'm sure they used some special machine that T shirt sellers and special transfer paper but I wanted to try it using what I had.
I used a light fabric transfer paper by Avery that I think I bought at Staples. I reversed my image and printed it out on the paper from my computer using the instructions that came with the paper.
I ironed it like they suggested in the instructions. I have an old iron without the holes. This is a great tool since it also heats up hotter than new irons do and doesn't leave those telltale holes. Look for one at thrift stores, rummage sales, etc.
This is my 3 try and by far the best result, although not without flaws.
I first tried the transfers for dark fabrics, but it is a thin opaque rubbery film that I actually melted and made the baby look like he had a terrible skin condition. None of the leather grain came through and the photo ended up peeling off.
I tried the light transfer paper on a dark piece of leather and you could hardly see the image. No go.
I finally tried the light transfer paper on a pale piece of leather and got the results I was looking for. The grain of the leather showed through and it had the vintage look I was after. Somehow, though, I distorted the leather on the left side (iron too hot?) and even though I ironed over and over again, I couldn't get that purple splotch to transfer.
The bottom 2 images were the best so I cut them off, folded them in half and made a small photo album.
The top 2 won't go to waste as I will but them apart and sew/glue them onto something else and camouflage the oops purple part somehow. (Bedazzler anyone?)