Thursday, September 19, 2013

Learning to Hand-Sew Leather

Things in my life are somewhat in flux, right now. Members of my family (both human and feline) are having serious medical issues, and the energy I have is being spent primarily on them instead of other things (like crafty goodness).  There are 'other' things eating up my energy, which I won't go into at the moment. However, I do have periods of downtime and keeping busy helps me take my mind off of various things, but I don't have the wherewithall to start anything new.

So, I took the opportunity to work on some of my UFOs (UN-Finished Objects) that I have lying around. These UFOs are of various crafting projects; some are knitting, crochet, sewing, and some are leather. In this case, I opted to work on a leather project where I had cut out the pieces some time ago, but haven't put together yet.

This project is a messenger bag using some oiled leather that I had left over from a previous project. The pieces are (left-to-right, top-to-bottom): inside pocket piece, front piece (with flap), outside pocket piece, back piece, and the one long piece in the middle is the bottom & sides of the bag.

Sewing leather is no different from sewing fabric, except it's a bit more labor intensive. You can use a sewing machine that can handle leather (like an industrial sewing machine) or you can hand-sew leather. In this case, I  needed more practice hand-sewing leather. Before I started sewing, I punched the D rings into the long side "strip" of the bag.

Then, it was a matter of punching holes in all of the leather pieces.

Afterwards, I threaded two needles with waxed nylon thread and started sewing. I started with a leather sewing awl, but found the tension better if I just used two needles. (Learn more about saddle stitching in this YouTube video.)

Here's the finished messenger bag from the side.

And here is a view from the top. I made a few mistakes here and there, including not giving enough of a "seam" allowance by punching the holes too close to the edge. Plus my stitch tension is a bit uneven, so it pulls in certain places. The bag is completely serviceable and will probably be gifted to my Eldest Nephew (as he was very jealous of his sister's messenger bag and wanted one for his own).

I still need to add the bag straps, but those are fairly easy to make.

Overall, however, it was a definite learning experience.  In order for me to get better hand sewing leather, I have to make leather projects to get better as it behaves very differently from fabric. I'll be making another bag soon, hopefully.

And here's your obligatory kitten photo! (They're getting huge and are a constant source of joy in my life)