CHOOSING A LEATHER SEWING MACHINE…

I’ve been hand stitching leather goods for a couple of years now; small accessories made with painstaking attention for friends and family in the comfort of my little basement. It’s so satisfying to see a piece of leather change colour, take on a new form, become something functional and loved. But although I do enjoy the slow, therapeutic movements as I saddle stitch a wallet, I have often also dreamed of finding a sewing machine… Continue reading “CHOOSING A LEATHER SEWING MACHINE…”

DIAMOND (AWL) IN THE ROUGH…

For a while now my passion for leather accessories has been gaining momentum! I always get excited when I see hand-made leather products and after so many years in the footwear industry spent working with synthetic leathers, even just the smell of real leather is enough to grab my attention! In pursuit of this, I decided to enrol on a course with Diamond Awl to learn more about the making process and create a messenger bag by hand…

The location for the weekend was an old cotton mill near Saddleworth, in Lancashire. I immediately fell in love with the studio which was an industrial-style work space filled with leathers, tools and all manner of eclectic objects, making it feel like a miniature museum!

Under the careful watch of Jason and David, myself and 3 other students learnt first how to stitch a small key ring. This was to introduce us to the basic techniques of preparing the thread, stitching, bevelling and buffing. The linen thread was hand-waxed and each stitch-hole was hand-made using a diamond-shaped awl. For a first attempt, mine wasn’t bad although it was so hard to control the stitches on the back of the leather, which are far less uniform than the front! We bevelled the edges to round them off and rubbed them down to create a smooth finish.

Next we moved right onto the bags. I had a smooth, matt black leather which was cut into 4 pieces to make the main body, 2 sides and strap. I stitched one side and David was on hand to help steer around the corners. After lunch, stitching continued right into the afternoon.

The next day, I finished stitching my bag and had to decide on the design of the strap and the main bag fastening. As the leather was so beautifully simple, I wanted to the bag to reflect this so there would be no additional stitching or decoration. I chose to make a small rounded-slot with a leather loop secured by a ‘Sam Brown’ stud to close the bag. I also added an asymmetric element to the finished design to create something simple but striking.

I loved the making process and was chuffed to bits with the final bag! David and Jason were knowledgeable, supportive and inspiring and thanks to them I was able to walk away with a bag that I will actually use!

I’m now rifling through a leather tool catalogue deciding what to buy first. I’d love to return to the Diamond Awl and make something else though so I don’t think it will be the last they see of me…!

Zoe x

 

Jason's busy making a tool roll...
Jason’s busy making a tool roll…
leather scraps and curiosities...
leather scraps and curiosities…
Inspiration everywhere...
Inspiration everywhere…
Industrial styling...
Industrial styling…
Jason's work on display...
Jason’s work on display..
all stitched up
all stitched up
bevelling...
bevelling…
pricking the stitch holes...
pricking the stitch holes…
Stitching the sides...
Stitching the sides…
after stitching, time to trim the corners...
after stitching, time to trim the corners..
the bag starts to take shape...
the bag starts to take shape…
the start of my 'keeper' loop for the strap
skiving my ‘keeper’ loop for the strap
cross stitch to secure...
cross stitch to secure…
giving shape to the leather loop
giving shape to the leather loop
cutting the ends of the strap, ready to be attached...
cutting the ends of the strap, ready to be attached…
attaching the strap with metal rivets...
attaching the strap with metal rivets…
hole punching...
hole punching…
almost there...
almost there…
design ideas…
making the closure...
making the closure…
Here's my finished messenger bag!
Here’s my finished messenger bag!