Monday, November 3, 2008

Stitching Leather Together

I have nothing against sewing machines. In fact I own 3, each tweaked for different types of materials. When putting cowhide together, however, I usually prefer the low-tech high-strength methods. Here are two of my favorites.
For the joining of multiple layers of heavy leather, as with this axe sheath, I like my stitching awl. It's a heavy duty little tool!
The waxed thread feeds from a center-mounted spool through a groove in the needle.
It's a push-pull operation; push the needle through a prepunched hole, pull back to create a loop, then pass thread through the loop on the other side of the project and pull the needle out. This creates a strong, tight and durable lock-stitch.

The leverage provided by the hand-held awl is very useful when working with heavy leather.
When I put something together, I intend for it to stay together!

Though there are certainly machines that could handle the thickness, the precision and control of hand-stitching creates a finished result that I consider superior.
For lightweight leather, I prefer the two-needle method. One piece of the same heavy waxed thread i use in the awl with needles at both ends. The needles are passed back and forth through the same holes, making fast work of any job. Pulling each stitch ultra tight is key!
The end result is strong and very stable. It's my stitch of choice for my Earth Medallions, as well as for wallets and small leather bags.
There are many other methods of joining leather, including decorative lacing. We'll cover those in a future post!

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