Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Leather Head Case - Part 2

I finished up a couple more molded head cases over the weekend, refined the process a bit and had some fun with the paint. Having completed the brown distressed version, I wanted to do one in a classic black, and one in a deep, rich blue - my model asked for me to match the color of the dress Lea Michelle wore to the Met Costume Institute Gala on one of them. It was a good challenge...
For the black hood I used Fiebring's USMC black dye. It goes on with the leather slightly damp, and you can get a real deep rich black if you keep applying a lot of coats. I applied about 2 or 3 coats, and wiped down between each to keep some transparency and give the finish an aged look. I wanted it a bit antique looking, but subtle.
Once dry, I buffed the leather smooth with a brush and applied a light application of "bag coat" for a subtle sheen.
I actually still need to glue down the seams, but am still toying with the idea of hand stitching the entire piece in a heavy tan thread.
For the blue hood, I used Angelus brand water-based acrylic paint in sapphire. The photo doesn't really show the color accurately - it's actually a pretty dark blue.
I applied 2 coats of the color, then for the third coat I mixed in some "pewter" color - which has little silver metal flakes. It added sparkle without diluting the color, and gave the hood a deep, almost automotive finish.
The acrylic paint dried with a pretty high level of gloss, and I didn't really need to add anything on top, although the instructions say you can add an acrylic finisher if you want a higher gloss or scuff protection.
These are very different from the hoods I normally make - they are so heavy and stiff they hold their shape all on their own. They're more like a gun holster or binocular case.
Based on the results I achieved with the paint, I am thinking of so many things I want to try with the vegetable-tanned leather. These experiments have been very inspiring, to say the least. I want to make about 50 of these, just so I can paint each one differently.
On the first version below, I trimmed the seams after assembling the hood completely. But I think it is better to trim as the seams are sewn, and while the piece can be laid flat. It is much easier than trimming once the hood has been stretched on the form. Also, it is easier to cut the leather when it is wet from soaking.
I don't know how practical these are to make for others, as the hood form is so specific, and I couldn't possibly carve one for each custom order. I don't even know how wearable they are, as I haven't even tried one on in my size. I suppose I should make one to find out...
Until next time...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bondage Hood How-To

Here is a step-by-step process for making leather hoods that can be used with the open-faced and mouth-only patterns I posted here. These are perfect for a soft, stretchy lamb leather - and you can get a couple of hoods out of a 10 to 12 square-foot hide.

1. Refine pattern and edit for size if necessary.
2. Mark hide for defects to avoid when laying out pattern.
3. Layout pattern pieces, use weight and transfer shapes with colored pencil.
Parts list: Front panels x2, rear panels x2, large tongue, small tongue.
3. Cut out all parts.
4. Clip & sew front panel seam, top of rear panels.

5. Cut & fold down any access openings (optional). Clip, glue & fold down seam allowances: front, top of rear....
...and rear opening.
Open-face seam glued & turned in.
Detail of inside mouth opening.
Rear opening glued & folded.
Topstitch openings.

6. Set & tape small and large tongues in place.
6a. Topstitch tongues using width guide - leaving room for grommets.
7. Remove tape and trim excess from rear tongues.
8. Clip front to rear panels, aligning on center seam.
9. Sew front panels to back.
10. Remove clips, trim...
...glue, fold & flatten seam.

11. Re-draw bottom seam if necessary.
12. Trim seam allowance to prepare for folding (or trimming if doing a rolled-edge).
13. Glue, fold & flatten bottom edge seam. Trim tongue pieces if necessary to make room for rolled edge.

14. Topstitch folded edge. Be careful not to sew through tongues.

15. Mark position for grommet holes 1" apart with tape measure.
16. Punch holes - go slightly undersize for softer leather.
Punch nose holes too, if necessary.
17. Set grommets with washers. Size #0 on the left, #00 on the right.
18. Cut lace to length and lace through holes.

19. Lace hood on form & allow to stretch overnight (optional).

19a. Admire your handiwork...(optional).
20. Paint nose grommets matching red (optional).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sewing breast openings on a Butterfly straitjacket

I just finished up a test butterfly straitjacket with a lighter-weight (2-2.5 oz) leather called E-18 from the Hide House. It's a variation on their explore hide (which is 2.5-3 oz). I was curious to see how the jacket would come out with a lighter-weight leather, although I was a bit worried about strength and durability. The cool thing about this particular hide is its almost ironed-smooth finish, tight grain, and silky soft feel...

I figured this would be a good opportunity to show you the steps I take to make the rolled-edge seam along the round breast opening.
The first step is the most daunting: you have to cut round holes in a perfectly good butterfly jacket. Positioning is crucial, and I try to center the nipple in the opening. Another thing to keep in mind: the hole gets larger after you sew the turned edge around it. I cut an 3-inch opening, and after the rolled-edge seam is sewn in place the opening measures a little more than 3.5 inches across.

Once the hole is cut, I sew the 1.75-inch strips around the opening, overlapping slightly at the bottom of the opening. Wherever you begin stitching, that will be where the exposed beginning of the seam will rest. I try to stay a little more than 1/8" from the edge of the opening, and feed the strip while turning the jacket under the needle. I tried using clips to hold the strip in place initially, but find it easier to just feed the strip manually as I go.

Once you complete the circle, you actually want to overlap a little bit to complete the edge.
Next, trim off the excess length.
Apply glue to the outside...
...and inside around the opening.
I kind of skipped ahead here on the pictures, but after the glue sets up, you carefully fold the strip from front to back, cutting relief notches as necessary to make the strip take the shape of the circular opening. When you are happy with the way it looks, topstitch around the opening from the front side to lock the rolled edge in place.
Once that stitching is done, trim any excess from the strip inside.
The jury is still out on whether this weight leather will do the job, but for now I have some testing to do...