I have been working on a project involving edge-finishing and hand-sewing leather, which are two areas of leathercrafting I've been trying to learn more about recently. I've spent a lot of time lurking around on leatherworker.net, which has many answers provided by amateur and professional craftspeople - some with many, many years of experience. I've picked up lots of really helpful tips...
The idea for this design is to add stitched detail around the eye openings on one of my molded hoods. This one didn't turn out too great, so I'm using it to experiment with a bunch of different techniques. The idea was to make the eye openings just little slits, but surrounded by a piece of oblong vegetable-tanned leather. I wanted the stitching to be prominent, so it becomes a part of the design.
I start off by cutting the oblongs from a 1-inch strap of 6-7 oz. veg-tan leather.
I use the strap-end cutter to round the ends, and the oblong bag punch to cut the slits inside. It's pretty tough to get the punch through the veg-tan, so I usually end up completing the cut with a hole-punch and x-acto knife.
It's kind of tricky, but I grooved along the inner slot as well, just to create another shadow line.
Now I use the edge-beveller to knock the sharp edge off the leather and give it a round shape.
The edge-beveller has a groove in the bottom, so it just slides along the edge of your workpiece.
Done with the edging...
On these pieces I lightly sanded with the sandpaper, and then used gum-tragacanth on the edges.
I buffed the edge with heavy canvas cloth.
I laid the piece on my granite surface plate, and rubbed briskly with the canvas. You actually want to generate a bit of heat, and that with the pressure and friction help bind the leather fibers together.
It should give you a clean, smooth and shiny edge.
Once it was dry, I applied a bit of brown Fiebing's edge kote, using a small brush for inside the opening.
I cut the openings for the eye using a hole-punch and x-acto.
I think the bare eye-slits look pretty cool at this point. May have to do a hood like this in the future...
But for this one, I'm sticking with plan "A".I apply some contact cement to the hood and the eye pieces. Even though they are getting stitched in place, it's common practice to use glue to hold things together while sewing.
For a good primer on hand-sewing technique, this book is the bible: "The Art of Hand Sewing Leather" by Al Stohlman. It takes you through the process in very clear, illustrated step-by-step instructions.
It's a bit overwhelming at first, (there are actually 33 steps to his technique), but the steps all make sense, and once you practice a bit, it starts to come naturally.
One of the challenges of this project is the back side opening is hard to see because it's inside the hood.You have to use the outside needle to guide the inside needle through the hole.
Of course, the things I like to do are never easy... Compared to machine sewing, this is almost painfully slow at first.
But eventually, you settle down, and get into a rhythm. It's not a race...
And when it's done, you have every stitch exactly where you want it.
And it will last for a really long time!Thanks for visiting! Until next time...