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leather shapes leather shapes



Hand-crafted, and decorative leatherwork. How is it done? - continued

Thonging (lacing) due to its versatility can define the edge of an article just as dyeing the edge does. It conceals raw edges, strengthens joins, and the edges themselves. As to whether to use holes or slits for the lacing, well, there is no great debate, it is entirely a matter of preference. I prefer holes, probably because it is easier to thread the leather through, and a thonging needle is not always required.






Triple-loop stitch

Double-loop stitch

Single-loop stitch

How a project begins
There are virtually endless possibilities open to a leatherworker. Thousands of things can be made with leather, from a keyring to a saddle. Most of the things I've made over the years were made using vegetable-tanned leather (in other words, tooling leather) but there are so many different kinds of leather and things to make with them. If a customer has something particular in mind, on occasion they will offer their own design. Not all are practicable and it has to be adapted to achieve what is possible.

The things I make, or made, are purses, wallets, belts, keyrings, hair barrettes, business-card holders, belt pouches, mobile phone holders, cigarette and cigar cases, watchstraps, briefcases, knife pouches, book covers, chess boards, table mats, guitar straps, musical instrument cases, snooker cue cases and lots, lots more. Then in more recent years the repair and restoration of the leather interiors of privately-owned aircraft and publicly- and privately-owned helicopters; the seating, the panelling, the table tops etc.

Apart from the aircraft of course, most of the things are made to patterns from my own designs, specifically created for particular leather projects, but sometimes purely speculative. Some things got made by adapting designs I'd created for something else but the new was sufficiently similar that to start from scratch was unnecessary. Besides the design of an article there is the making of the pattern which will be used to transfer it to the leather. It hardly needs saying that no matter how good or clever the design the pattern is the most important part of the proceedings. Once the leather is cut . . . you can't turn back the clock!

The Whipstitch

Using the whipstitch as a decorative edging requires the lace to be three and a half times the length of the edge of the project to be laced, eg, if it measures 18" around the edges to be laced, then assuming the holes punched in preparation are /32", and the lace also is /32", then the amount of lace required is 63". Now all it remains for you to do is follow the illustrations and instructions below.

As shown in Fig 1 thread the needle and cut a slit in the other end of the lace approximately ¹/8" in length. Begin lacing, Fig 2, in between the two layers,  leaving between them roughly a ¹/4" of the end that has the slit. In Fig 3 you can see that you bring the needle over the edge of the leather and go through the next hole along from the beginning one. You then pass the needle through the slit in the end of the lace, continuing through the hole opposite as illustrated.



Pull the stitch up tight, Fig 4, continuing along and tightening the stitches as you go. In Fig 5, lace along but leave a loose loop in the last but one hole. As you can see in the Fig, there is an unlaced hole between your first and last stitch. Tease apart the two sides of the leather, Fig 6, and lace through the last hole up between the sides passing through between the first loose loop as indicated. Now pull the first loop tight, Fig 7, over the end of the lace as depicted.

Having reached the position shown in Fig 8 you pull the end of the lace to take out any slack from the last loop. You can now cut off the end of the lace. Tapping along the lace with a mallet is not essential but can improve the end result.

Fig 9 is for when you won't be completely lacing round the entire project. In that case you'll start your lacing just a little bit differently, inasmuch as you'll still start between the leather sides but begin in the first hole with the next stitch also in the first hole (in other words, twice through the first hole in the back side only). Then, as in Fig 10, when tying off, you go through the last hole in the front side twice, only on the second occasion bringing the lace up between sides and then back a few stitches.

As for Fig 11 that's for when you're whipstitching only on a single thickness of leather. In that case you must be certain to contain the beginning tail of lace under the next stitches on the back of it. You end it by the poking the needle back under the last few stitches on the back of the leather.

Click for Turk's-head knot & monkey's-fist

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leather shapes leather shapes