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The Perfect Groom's Wedding Day Gift

Posted by Fiona Ritchie on

A gift from a bride to her bridegroom on their wedding day is a beautiful wedding tradition.

On her 13 March wedding day, Amy from Whangarei surprised her fiance with his Sparrowhawk Leather handmade Medium Brown wallet embossed with his initials AP, and their wedding date 13.3.21. 

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Five "Matching" Leather Bookcovers

Posted by Fiona Ritchie on

When a lady pilot wanted a custom made library of 5 "matching" leather bookcovers. Sparrowhawk Leather's Artisan, Fiona Ritchie told her that as Sparrowhawk Leather hand dyed its premium pieces, each cover would have the same depth of Medium Brown colour with a uniquely beautiful grain pattern.

Most leathergoods are made of the top grain and factory dyed leather where the aim has been to produce a uniform finish by removing, 'painting over' or hiding the leather's grain. The difference with Sparrowhawk Leather's bespoke leather pieces, is the aim is to enhance the beauty of leather's unique grain character, which is as individual as a human fingerprint, by using un-dyed leather and hand dyeing each piece as it was made.

Fiona said she had a whole un-dyed leather hide just big enough to cut all the lady pilot's book covers with interesting grain characteristics across the hide. Fiona's would highlight the grain of each cover using the hand rubbed dyeing technique Fiona had perfected over the last 6 years to produce a coordinating but individual finish for each book cover. Fiona's process for the Medium Brown bookcovers involved a 5 step dyeing process including final antique and sealer.

 See the process below:

 Hand cut, initials embossed and tooled undyed Sparrowhawkleather book covers   Hand rubbed dyeing technique Sparrowhawk Leather handmade in NZ 1st dye

Hand cut and embossed leather          1st hand rubbed dye application

Sparrowhawk Leather NZ hand rubbed dyeing technique second application    Sparrowhawk Leather logbook cover hand rubbed leather dyeing technque 3rd application

 2nd hand rubbed dye application        3rd hand rubbed dye application

  4th hand rubbed dyeing application Sparrowhawk Leather handmade in NZ Pilot Logbook covers  After antique finish and sealer Sparrowhawk Leather NZ

 4th hand rubbed dye application        Antique and sealer

Sparrowhawk Leather Pilot Logbook cover collection cut from the same hide, hand rubbed dyeing

 Finished leather book cover "library", the "same" but each cover with its individual grain and embossing characteristics, all hand embossed, hand dyed and hand stitched.

 The lady pilot was thrilled with her bookcover library and wrote:

They are just perfect, thank you so very much!
My logbooks are all now wearing their new clothes and they look so smart and professional, and the Pilot Licence and Medical Certificate Wallet too.

 To order your Sparrowhawk Leather custom made piece, view Our Products.

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Journal essentials = quality notebook + Custom Sparrowhawk Leather cover

Posted by Fiona Ritchie on

A growing number of Sparrowhawk Leather customers are avid journal writers.

Some say writing their daily thoughts and experiences is a cathartic pastime. Other journal as their strategy for goal setting and recording personal achievement.  

What they all agree on is writing in a good quality Notebook protected by their own, personalized leather cover adds to the value and enjoyment to the discipline.

Sparrowhawk Leather NZ handmade journal covers with embossed initials        Sparrowhawk Leather's NZ Made leather Journal covers fits Moleskine notebooks (also stocked by Sparrowhawk Leather)  

After making more than a few Leather Journal Covers to fit the Moleskine Large (A5) Classic Notebook and I found these to be of good quality and popular worldwide. To make it easier for customers gifting a Sparrowhawk Leather Notebook cover, and to ensure journal writing customers can purchase their replacement Moleskine Journal, Sparrowhawk Leather now stocks the Moleskine Large (A5) Classic Notebook  in sought after Scarlet Red and Sapphire Blue.

Moleskine Large Classic Notebook in Scarlet Red stocked by Sparrowhawk Leather NZ (Personalised leather notebook covers handmade to fit) Moleskine Large Classic notebook in Sapphire Blue, stocked by Sparrowhawk Leather NZ, with handmade personalised leather journal covers made to fit

 Buy Moleskine Large (A5) Classic Notebook ruled (13 x 21 cm) $36.95

Buy Moleskine Large (A5) Classic Notebook plain (blank) (13 x 21 cm) $36.95

Each Sparrowhawk Leather bookcover is a "one off", unique to its owner and can never be exactly replicated for another. Its not only the personalisation and wide choice of hand dyed colours, its Leather Artisan Fiona's use of time honoured leather craft techniques. Its her hand embossing of initials and dates,  hand punching stitching holes, hand stitching using Irish Linen Waxed thread in a 2-needle locking saddle stitch, and most of all, her hand rubbed dyeing of "raw" vegetable tanned leather.




Most leather Journal Covers look the same as they are cut from leather dyed at the Tannery in a drum or with an "airbrush" with the aim of looking minimising individuality to look "uniform". Fiona's practiced hand rubbed dyeing of each individual piece is like applying varnish to wood and has the effect of bringing the leather's unique grain to life.

Sparrowhawk Leather Pilot Logbook cover collection cut from the same hide, hand rubbed dyeing

 Finished leather book cover "library", the "same" but each cover with its individual grain and embossing characteristics, all hand embossed, hand dyed and hand stitched.

I've been crafting leather Diary Covers and Journal Covers since 2014 and the standard hardback A4 and A5 Diary Covers such as Collins and Impact have remained roughly the same. As I hand make Sparrowhawk Leather book covers from full grain, vegetable tanned leather, the internal leather sleeves mold to fit your hard cover book over time while remaining durable and beautiful. 

As I custom make each Sparrowhawk Leather Journal cover when it is ordered, you can choose from a wide range of hand dye colours (1 or 2 colours), hand embossed personalisation ( initials, or initials and date) or a Black on Brass or Stainless Steel nameplate (logos available on Black on Brass nameplates), and optional pen holders and snap closures. 

Click on the narrations for links to order these products.

Sparrowhawk Leather handmade NZ Royal Blue Journal Diary Bookcover with penholder    Sparrowhawk Leather handmade Raspberry Journal Cover with snap closure

Royal Blue Journal cover with single    Raspberry Journal cover with single
penholder                                              penholder & snap closure


Sparrowhawk Leather handmade in NZ leather bookcover wiht penholder and date

Medium Brown Journal cover with           Medium Brown & Black Journal cover
embossed initials and date                      with locking penholder (another
                                                                 penholder on back cover) & date

Black and Brown handmade journal cover with engraved nameplate by Sparrowhawk Leather NZ   Sparrowhawk Leather NZ Navy Leather Journal Diary cover with snap closure, penholder and stainless steel nameplate

Medium Brown & Black Journal cover     French Navy Diary cover with
with Black on Brass nameplate               Stainless steel nameplate, penholder
                                                                 and snap closure

I need 10 working days plus shipping time to make your Journal, Diary or Bookcover with hand embossed initials and an additional week for engraved Black on Brass or Stainless Steel nameplates. 

Fiona Ritchie, Leather Artisan, Sparrowhawk Leather

See the full range of Sparrowhawk Leather handmade bookcovers here.














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Only the best to preserve a great flying career

Posted by Fiona Ritchie on

For nearly 14 years Australian based pilot Ian had been using a self-made plastic pouch as a NZCAA logbook “cover”. It was time for an upgrade. Ian decided to preserve his flying career properly by having two of his logbooks rebound and Sparrowhawk Custom leather cover made to fit.

When Ian’s order come through, I was ecstatic. I rarely had the opportunity to make the premium cover Ian had chosen, and had never made it in the Medium Brown & Black leather with Butterscotch stitching. I knew the cover would be very masculine and distinctive.

 It was a little tricky adding the extra space required for Ian to fit his rebound logbook cover, but I was up for the challenge.

The first step was to tool the front cover piece. This included hand carving the pilot wings and embossing Ian’s initials in the right position so they would not be obscured by the wrap closure. Once carved, I carefully dyed around the wings. and then hand rubbed the dye on rest of the front cover piece to bring out the grain. From here I antiqued the Medium Brown dye and the wings to enhance the detail.


Next I made the outside cover, including the inside keeper sleeves, which are made out of kangaroo hide as they need to be thin and pliable.

 There was also to be a NZCAA licence pocket and pen holder. The pen holder is tricky as it needs to be stitched in a position where it fits neatly in the fold of the wrap around cover, without interfering with the logbook.


The result was a handsome logbook cover that packed up for International Courier to Ian in Australia. Emailing Ian some photos first, I was thrilled at his positive feedback. The cover arrived safely and Ian was so pleased. 

What a spectacular piece of work!
The colours and the arrangements look great!
It feels SO special and personalised.
You do great work. Thank you so much.





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Husband's Facebook comment leads to Birthday wallet surprise

Posted by Fiona Ritchie on

If you are like me, you worry about your man's upcoming birthdays. What to give him this year?

An online hint from husband Jason provided the solution for wife Simone, a handmade, Sparrowhawk Leather wallet, emblazoned with his initials. Perfect. 

Jason was browsing for New Zealand Made products on Facebook and came across my Sparrowhawk Leather wallet post. He commented:
I know where to go to for my next wallet, beautiful work.

By chance, Jason's wife Simone, saw his comment. She immediately placed an online order for a Medium Brown Coin & Currency wallet, hand embossed with Jason's initials.

I saw Simone's surname on the order. It was too coincidental. I emailed Simone to ask if she was Jason's wife? Simone replied:
It is his birthday next week and I have been struggling to think of something he'd love...and then I saw his comment, so problem solved.

 Sparrowhawk Leather handmade medium brown coin and currency mens wallet  Brown men's handmade wallet with intials by Sparrowhawk Leather

 I got to work and made Jason's wallet in a few days. I was so pleased, as the piece of hide that I cut for the cover responded really well when I hand dyed it. As is my custom, I packaged Jason's wallet in a gift box, put my dye and embossing trial piece in the box, and a note describing how Simone specified his initials and the colour, and my process for making the wallet.

When Jason received it, he sent me a message and photo straightaway!
Just got my new leather wallet WOW! absolutely beautiful, thank you so much!!


Simone sent me an email too;
Jason's wallet arrived yesterday, the look on his face was priceless. Thank you so much for this beautifully crafted gift!"

 Thanks for reading my story,
Fiona Ritchie, Leather Artisan, Sparrowhawk Leather



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