I know that most Western tackmakers tool first and dye later. However, for my (mostly English) purposes, I find it's easier to dye first and then select the best areas to use in my saddles. I don't discard the uneven and splotchy sections. Instead, I save those for areas that are covered with skiver (the panels and saddle tree, for example).
Here's a quick look at the items you will need for this project. First and foremost, be sure to protect your work area by covering it with newspaper or something similar. Leather dye is meant to penetrate and it will leave permanent stains on most surfaces. Trust me--I speak from experience! You will also need a piece of leather, leather dye (I prefer Fiebings brand oil dyes), and daubers or paint brushes. The Leather Amore conditioner and paper towels are optional.
Dip the dauber (0r paint brush, if you prefer) into the dye bottle and begin to spread the dye onto the leather.
Don't worry if the dyed areas look extremely uneven and streaky.Ok, I know there are some accomplished tackmakers who read this blog. If you're one of them, please add your best dyeing tips to the comments section. Dyeing leather is one of my least favorite parts of tackmaking and I would be delighted to learn a few new tricks!
Just keep working in a back and forth motion until the streaks start to fill in.
When the leather is reasonably well covered...
flip it over...
and repeat the process on the flesh side.
When you've finished that, flip it over again. Chances are your grain side will look a lot more even now. The leather will be quite damp at this point.
I'm not sure this last step helps, but it certainly can't hurt. While the leather is still damp, I squirt some of the Leather Amore on the grain side...
and quickly rub it into the entire surface with a paper towel. I have convinced myself that this helps avoid the greenish sheen that sometimes appears when leather is saturated with dye. It also conditions and softens the leather which is never a bad thing!
At this point, you're basically done. You may need to touch up a few streaks later, but that's about it. Set the leather aside and let it dry thoroughly. Depending on the type of dye you're using and the temperature and humidity, this can take several hours.