11 Oct 2015

Sewing leather using the saddle stitch

Sewing is a big part of this project so I will show you how I do the basic saddle stitch. This stitching is as much a design element on the bag as anything else. Taking your time making sure that you are performing the exact same motion over and over again ensures a consistent stitch. There are many different preference regarding the appearance of the final stitch where non is more correct than the other. I prefer a slanted stitch without the use of a stitching groove.

You have already seen how I scribe a line with the wing divider and mark the holes with the pricking iron so I'll skip that part.

I prefer to pierce the holes with the awl before sewing. I found that this way I get a straight line of holes on the back side as oppose to making one hole at a time. If I make the holes while the piece is in the stitching clamp I hold a cork on the back side to prevent the leather from distorting. An alternative is to have the piece laying on the table with a large piece of cork or underneath.

One of the keys to nice even stitching is to make each hole at a 45ยบ angle. This off course only makes sense if you use a diamond shaped awl. To help insure a constant angle I have made a small dot with a marker on my awl shaft. When piercing this dot has to point upwards. Some people use a round awl or a dremel with a small drill bit to make the holes. I have never tried it but I know I will not be able to archive the look I want using these methods.

Go through the pictures for descriptions of each step or simply watch the video. The gunk you see on the awl when I pierce the leather is small pieces of contact cement. That happens when the cement becomes to thick. There are two solutions to this problem. Buy new contact cement or put thinner in it. I chose the first.

Lay the thread along the edge that you wish to stitch. In this case it is all the way around. Multiply this length by 4 and a little extra to get the final length of the thread.
 With a knife thin out the ends.
 Apply beeswax to the entire length of the thread by dragging it across while holding it down with the thumb.
 Thread the needle and poke through the thread 2 times.
 Then pull it down.
 Hold the cork on the back side.
This cork has been used alot so the center is gone. This actually makes it better as the awl dont have any extra resistance.
 Pierce the leather with the awl. Make sure that the dot on the awl haft is pointing straight up.
Extrude the awl. I like to use my index finger to hold against the leather when extruding.
 You see that the awl blade is at 45° angle to the black dot.
 After inserting the thread in the first hole hold the needles together.
 Pull the needles upwards so that the tread is centred.
 Insert the needle from the left hand side first.
 Place the right hand needle underneath.
 Hold tight.
 And pull the needle through.
 Put your pinky finger on top of the thread and pull slightly down.
 While you pull down the thread insert the needle on top of the thread.
 Push the needle thorugh.
 Cast the thread over the needle.
 Pull the needle through.
 Pull the thread and when it is almost all the way through pull the left hand side upwards and away and the right hand side down and towards yourself.
 Pull the stitch tight.

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