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Greenhorn
posted
Hello all,
I have been lurking here for some time and reading and learning, great info. I have a question about the actual sewing aspect of leather bags. When you sew two pieces of leather together are you all just pushing the needle through or do you make holes along the edge where you then use them to run your thread through, I can see how with thin leather this wouldn't be a problem, but with thicker cow hide not so much.
Thanks
Jim
 
Posts: 2 | Registered: 26 April 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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Yes,we usually punch a series of holes in the pieces to sew together,then run lacing,or thread through to make the seam...


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1487 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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If I am sewing leather to make something like a shot pouch, I thread my needle with linen thread rubbed over a bee's wax candle and I wet the leather to be sewn together. With 2-3 or 4-5 oz leather I don't use an awl, just the needle.
 
Posts: 505 | Location: SC | Registered: 03 May 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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The answer is, YES.

Fist, for thinner leather, you will either need a glover's needle, which has a triangular cross section and cuts its way through the leather. OR..., you will need a stab-awl to make the hole, and then a regular needle to pull the thread/simulated sinew through. IF you try real sinew, you will need the stab-awl technique. Be sure when you buy your stab-awl that you get a round shaft, and not a diamond shaped cross-section, as sometimes the diamond shaped cutting awls are mislabeled as stab-awls. Sometimes stab-awls are called scratching awls

IF you are going to do a saddle stitch with two needles, or using a single needle where you start with a running stitch thus _ _ _ _ , then reverse and go back over the running stitch to end up with the stitching looking thus -------- (very similar to a sewing machine), you will need a stab-awl during the reverse stitching, as otherwise you will cut the thread/sinew in the original holes when using a glover's needle going back through those first holes.

Some folks do it all by eye, and some use a stitching embosser a.k.a. a stitching spacer to get a more uniform seam. Some like this and other think this looks too much like a machine did the work.

As mentioned for the thicker, really stiff hide like cowhide, you will want to punch a small hole, and perhaps even wet the leather, before running the thread/sinew through the leather. For example, I use a glover's needle on supple leathers, even Moose, when doing mocs, BUT when sewing cartridge boxes, belt frogs, and cowhide knife or 'hawk sheaths, I punch tiny holes before sewing. (It's more like lacing up the project really when you punch the holes. Wink )

OH and you won't go amis also buying a good fitting thimble to help push the glover's needle through thicker hide like elk or moose.

Finally you may want to look into using a welt between the two pieces of leather when sewing a seam. For the portion of the seam on a center-seam moc that is under the toes, it protects the thread. For a knife sheath it protects the thread from the edge of the blade in some styles of sheaths. It can help with water resistance in some articles such as a shooting bag.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3661 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
Picture of Hanshi
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I've made a few items, shooting bags and ball bags, and have used different materials. For any cowhide bag I punched holes with an awl and then stitched it. For deerhide I found no hole is needed. I have used the saddle stitch (two needles) and a running stitch where I go back over the stitching from the opposite direction. My stitching is very crude but it works well and is strong. Welts are something I know nothing about including how they are used.


*Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.*
 
Posts: 3131 | Location: Virginia (by way of Georgia) | Registered: 26 January 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Pilgrim
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I do a fair amount of stitching as a hobby.

Hanshi: a welt is basically a leather spacer. On many clothing items, it is the strip of leather that is then cut for fringe.

For most of my sewing, I use a stitching awl like this one at Tandy Leather, although they can be found lots of places: https://www.tandyleather.com/e...oduct/sewing-awl-kit
It both punches the hole with a 3-sided needle, but then sews the leather. For this, I then use artificial sinew that has been split to 1/2 thickness, wound onto the spool. This is my preferred method of sewing

Of course, for thicker leather (2 or more layers of 5 oz+ leather) I will punch holes and then stitch using the 2-needle method.


Part Man, Part Critter
Born under the watch of the Great Spirit
 
Posts: 58 | Registered: 26 April 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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I guess I'm between Hanshi and most others....I know what a welt is,but have never used one.I can manage a saddle stitch,and running stitch,but nothing turns out looking like a skilled stitcher did it.
Oh yeah,I've never been able to figure out how to use a sewing awl....


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1487 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Hivernant
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In some applications a spacer is used to protect the threads. Like in the example of a axe head cover.


"I don't know where we're goin', but there's no sense bein' late." Quigley
 
Posts: 104 | Location: The Beehive State | Registered: 12 April 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of MountainRanger
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I was going to put my two cents in, but decided that giving some of those who have contributed to this thread a case of red-rump isn't worth it, besides, if I dood it, I get a whipping... oh heck, gonna dood it anyway.

My first rule is use whatever tools you have to get a job done, especially if you are retired and of comparatively limited income. I will say, that I honestly think that using triangular needles to stitch leather isn't the best way to go. Most of those sail needles that I've seen have little blades on at least two sides of the needle just below the point to tear through the heavy sail canvas, which means you increase the chance of tearing the leather with other than a round hole. On leather weights of 1-4 oz, it can be very easy to tear. Why risk a nice piece of elk or deerskin, especially if you've paid for brain tanning or did it yourself?

Tandy also sells a 00 punch that comes as a scissor style punch tool or a single punch you whack with a mallet. They are inexpensive and are perfect up to at least 11 oz leather! Failing that, sharpen a finishing nail and epoxy the dull end in a stick. Bingo, a great punch.


Who am I to offer such a contrarian view? Check out my products under Period Clothing (full leather pants and military style wescot) and under Accoutrements for ball bags, tool wallets and my hunting bag. I know of what I speak when it comes to leather. I'm 70 and have been working leather since I was around 14. Have sold my products and done custom work for folks for years and do quite nicely, thank you very much. My policy is no one pays or gets their check cashed until they tell me they are happy.

I suggest using Lubriderm on those red rumps. It will take away the burn. And sorry about that.


Sua Sponte
 
Posts: 460 | Location: SW Virginia (New River Valley) | Registered: 13 August 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Hivernant
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I do agree with Mt.ranger a round hole is better than a torn hole. A tear is a weak point that can keep tearing. A round hole is a dead end.
Besides that, I own one of his bags. Well made!


"I don't know where we're goin', but there's no sense bein' late." Quigley
 
Posts: 104 | Location: The Beehive State | Registered: 12 April 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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I had no idea that English glover's needles were misnamed, and a bad idea, and to think they have been wrong for at least two whole centuries. Eeker

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3661 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of MountainRanger
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Well, maybe yes, maybe no insofar as misnamed for several hundred years or so... will swap links with you:
http://www.selfrelianceoutfitters.com/sail-needle-14/ Big Grin

Looks pretty much the same to me and oh my gosh, it's called a sail needle, and son of a gun, they had sail makers two hundred years ago too. Got the little sharpened edge too. I see on your link that that needle- that glovers needle- with its little sharpened edge is tearing the leather at the hole. When it comes right down to it, they are probably the same darned needle... glover's needles are sold to whoever glovers are (presumably thems what makes gloves) and then we move over next door where they make and supply sail needles to thems what gives a crap about sails (like my brother-in-law in Florida). Neither is a great choice for holing because of my previous observation that they cut and tear their way through the material which they are designed to do, regardless of the the kind of stitch one is doing. And that is why I recommend a single hole (size 00)scissor type punch, a rod-type punch(same size) or a hand held Awl... lots of varieties of awls to choose from, and like I said before, easy to make. I personally prefer the kind that narrows from around half an inch at the handle to sharp as the dickens at the tip. Has a nice comfortable handle and can be purchased on eBay for anywhere from $1.25/free shipping (from Hong Kong) then upwards in price from US vendors.

Didn't address sewing or stitching awls... people swear by them; People swear at them. I'm a card-carrying member of the latter tribe.

I guess the last thing I ought to say is that I think there is absolutely nothing wrong in using one of these said or glover's needles to do your stitching Once The Holes Are Punched.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: MountainRanger,


Sua Sponte
 
Posts: 460 | Location: SW Virginia (New River Valley) | Registered: 13 August 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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*Grabs a bag of popcorn and waits to see if the ball is returned*......Munch,munch,munch Razzer


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1487 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
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Pick up a copy of "The Art of Hand Sewing Leather" by Al Stolhman at any Tandy store. It is an invaluable reference, and will cover all the questions brought up here.

The secret to even stitches is to use an overstitch wheel, which is just a small wheel about the size of a dime with points on the perimeter attached to a handle. Run this along your stitch line and it will mark your hole spacing, so you can use your awl to punch your holes. They come in different sizes (stitches per inch) so you can pick a size that is proportional to the leather you are stitching.

To really dress up your seams, run the overstitch wheel back over the thread once you are done stitching. It helps to set the thread in place nice and even.

Really thick leather (knife sheaths or saddles)? Use a Dremel tool with a 1/16" drill bit instead of an awl.
 
Posts: 6 | Registered: 27 October 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
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Wow!! There has always been more than one way to skin a cat but many of these aforementioned practiceso are IMO tainting the meat : )
The Art of Handsewing book suggestion is a good one though.
 
Posts: 11 | Registered: 07 June 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Notchy Bob
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Howdy

I'm not sure of the date, but I believe it was in the 1850s when John Palliser wrote, "Before leaving the settlements, provide yourselves with lead, tobacco, coffee, sugar, salt, needles, awls, strong thread, and shoemaker's wax, and also one or two dressed skins, for making and mending moccasins..." [Italic and bold text mine].

I've done a little leatherwork. I've not done much with canvas, but did take an interest in it not long ago and did some research on the topic.

First of all, I am in agreement with the majority of you regarding the "Speedy Stitchers." I find them awkward to use and a regular saddle stitch makes a stronger seam. They are also pretty worthless for punching holes in really heavy leather.

It is true that glover's needles and sailmaker's needles both have a triangular cross section near the pointed end, which is a larger diameter than the round shank back toward the eye of the needle. However, the difference is the corners of a sailmaker's needle are very slightly rounded. The idea is that the needle will separate the weave of the canvas without cutting and thus weakening the fibers. This relatively larger hole will allow the smaller diameter of the round needle shank, and the thread, to pull through with relative ease. It still probably isn't that easy, though, considering that the sailmaker's palm was considered an essential part of the kit.

Glover's needles also have a triangular cross section near the tip, but the corners are sharp. Yes, this will cut a triangular hole in the leather, albeit a small one, but it eliminates the need for an awl. Glover's needles are for making fine stitches in thin, soft leather. These are the way to go for sewing thin buckskin, and in fact Indian women are known to have used glover's needles obtained from the traders for this purpose.

For heavier leather, you do need an awl or punch in conjunction with a blunt pointed needle. You can obviously use an awl and blunt needle with thinner leather, too, but you'll be adding an unnecessary step as compared to using just a glover's needle. You're never going to get a needle of any kind through belt or harness leather without having a hole already in there. A sharp-pointed needle will "grab" or poke into the sides of the hole, while a blunt pointed needle will follow the path of least resistance. Boar bristles were used for this purpose once upon a time, but I don't see how they got the thread to stay attached. For some purposes, such as harness and saddle construction, a very sharp awl with a diamond cross-section was used. This would cut a diamond-shaped hole in the leather. The hole stays open long enough for you to pull the needle through. Stabbing awls might have a round or lens-shaped or flattened elliptical cross section. These would separate the fibers of the leather without actually cutting them, but the holes tend to tighten up faster, making it harder to get the needle and thread through.

In my own projects with heavy vegetable tanned leather, I have broken with tradition by marking the holes and then using my drill press to bore 1/16" holes for stitching. This works for me. I also have lousy technique with the overstitch wheels, and instead use a set of dividers with sharp points, and "walk" the dividers along the path of the seam to mark the holes for even spacing. Again, this works for me. I also use a spacing of five holes to the inch, which many people will tell you is too coarse. However, it doesn't really look coarse in the finished product, and it makes a strong seam. I am of the opinion that really close hole spacing is overrated. In looking at old leather articles, you see that the material often breaks or tears along a stitch line, for the same reason that postage stamps tear off the page along the perforated line. Too many holes too close together weakens the leather.

As an aside, it is my understanding that the "canoe awls" of the fur trade were intended for working with birchbark. Some of them had the "dogleg" that we frequently associate with trade awls, but some didn't. However, all of the true canoe awls had either square or triangular cross sections. It is said that holes punched with a round awl would close up, while a square or triangular hole would stay open long enough to push the spruce root cordage through. The finished canoe would have all of the seams caulked.

A canoe awl could also double as a weapon. It is said that old Touissaint Charbonneau had an affinity for very young Indian girls, one of whom nearly killed the old lecher with a canoe awl. He barely survived.

One final point worth mentioning is that the old-time cordwainers and harness makers had specific recipes for wax (see the quote from John Palliser, above). Nowadays, we wax our threads with paraffin or beeswax and let it go at that, but the old timers used various combinations of beeswax and rosin. The heat generated by the friction of pulling the thread through the awl holes would melt or soften the wax/rosin. Once the thread was pulled tight, the wax/rosin treatment would cool and help lock the thread into place.

Anyway, I've tried to learn what I could about this just for my hobby projects. I've gotten the impression that the old time professional leatherworkers' toolkits were a lot more complicated than I had initially realized. The size and type thread, needle, and awl would be dictated by the type of leather and the purpose of the finished object.

Good luck with your projects!

Best regards,

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Notchy Bob,


"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us. Should have rode horses. Kept dogs."

from The Antelope Wife
 
Posts: 313 | Location: Florida | Registered: 24 May 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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This is fascinating.Thanks to all of you that are contributing to this,I'm learning a lot!


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1487 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
Picture of Ohio Rusty
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I may not have seen it in one of the previous postings, but I use a stitching pony to do my saddle stitching. It is a small wooden vise that sets between your legs to hold your two pieces of leather togethr while you worj both needles back and forth. That way both of your hands are free to sew and with the stitching pony tightly holding the pieces of leather together, the leather has less of a tendency to 'grow' as you stitch along the edge ....
Ohio Rusty ><>
 
Posts: 18 | Location: Falls of the Hockhocking, Ohio | Registered: 28 May 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
Picture of Hanshi
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quote:
Originally posted by Boartooth:
This is fascinating.Thanks to all of you that are contributing to this,I'm learning a lot!



I've learned a lot as well. I have a stitching awl but never knew how to use it. And my stitching is NEVER neat and regular. I do have a couple of punch awls that work pretty well for that purpose but my skill runs out with the first hole punched. I now understand "welts" and that they are not the result of a whipping. Big Grin

I'll never do "good" work but maybe a stitching wheel will elevate my work from a third grader to - deep breath - a fourth grader...I hope, I hope, I hope...


*Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.*
 
Posts: 3131 | Location: Virginia (by way of Georgia) | Registered: 26 January 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of MountainRanger
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When laying out tentative hole markings, I recommend you start with a set of dividers. Dampen your leather, then with one leg at the outside edge of the leather, lay out a line about 1/8" or so. The dampened leather will hold the scribed line. Then if you wish to use the wheel to mark where the tentative holes will go, and I also like 5 holes to the inch, again making sure the leather is still damp, roll the wheel around the project. Next is to make holes by any method one prefers. I occasionally use a drill, but I like a 3/32" bit when I drill, instead of using my punch (first choice).

I keep saying 'tentative' because I've seen that occasionally, there will be an extra hole in a given space, or one less... danged if I know how THAT works hehehe.


I've used a pony to hold the project, and have the one I made when in HS shop. We had to make our stitching pony before our shop teacher would let us have a leather project to work on. I've just gotten away from using it.


Sua Sponte
 
Posts: 460 | Location: SW Virginia (New River Valley) | Registered: 13 August 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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