HAND-CRAFTED LEATHER GOODS
Making a pair of gloves–continued
Terms used in glove making:-The main part of the glove, the back, the palm, the wrist and the backs and fronts of the fingers, is known as the trank. The thumb, and the long narrow strips of leather which join the backs and fronts of the fingers are called fourchettes, and can be either single or double. Figure 1 shows you three different kinds of fourchettes. Single ones are used when there are no triangular shaped bits at the base of the fingers. These tiny gussets are called quirks and they are sewn to the double fourchettes as shown in Fig 2. Leathers which possess a good deal of stretch are usually made with fourchettes only, but if the leather is fairly thick and stiff the addition of quirks will give a little more room for the hand and make the gloves wear better. The points are the decorative lines on the back of the hand. Various methods and stitches can be used for these.
The gauntlet is that part of the glove below the wrist, and nowadays it is usually cut in one with the rest of the trank. It probably dates back to the time when men wore coats of mail and gloves were worn under the steel gauntlet to prevent chafing. It served to cover the end of the sleeve and enabled the glove to be pulled on easily. Nowadays the gauntlet has ceased to be an important part of the glove and is almost non-existent. In former times it was often elaborately embroidered and extended halfway up the forearm. Some gloves, of course, still have deep gauntlets, particularly those worn by motorcyclists. Where this type of gauntlet is used it must be stiffened in some way or it will flop over the wearer's hand. An interlining of buckram or tailor's canvas can be used and the edge of the glove may be strengthened with parallel rows of machine stitching. Another method is to insert one or two rows of thin string or cord between the rows of stitching.
Stitches:-The way in which a glove is sewn together is important both from the point of view of wear and appearance. Leather gloves are nearly always sewn on the right side, unless the leather is very thin. Fur is an exception to this as the seams are usually over-sewn on the wrong side. The final seams, however, are done on the right side.
A close examination of a hand-made glove will soon show that the seams appear to be worked in running stitch — that is, small even stitches that are the same size on each side of the seam, Fig 3. The stitch is called "stab stitch" and it is worked in a special way. The two pieces of leather are held together wrong sides facing and the edges parallel. The needle is pushed through the two layers at right angles and the thread is pulled through, Fig 4. The second half of the stitch is made by pushing the needle through from the back to the front, again with the needle at right angles. Thus each stitch is made in two movements. Never try to use ordinary running stitch, in which a small amount of the seam is taken up by the needle, as even thin leather is too thick for this to be successful.
If you want your gloves to be extra strong you can use double running. The first half of the stitch is worked in stab stitch in the ordinary way, a second row of stab stitch is then worked in the opposite direction filling in the spaces left in the previous row, Fig 5. This stitch is extremely strong and if well done looks like machine stitching. The needle and thread used must both be fairly fine as the needle goes through each hole in the leather twice.
Over-sewing can be used either on the right or wrong side. Where extra strength is required a second row can be worked in the opposite direction to form a row of crosses. This stitch, if evenly worked, is very decorative and looks well if a contrasting colour is used, Fig 6.
Backstitching can be used for seams which are worked on the wrong side. Machine stitching can be used to good effect round the wrist edge of a glove as it is not only quicker than hand sewing, it helps to flatten and stiffen the edge. Decorative stitching can be used for the points. They can be worked in stab stitch, double over-sewing (cross stitch) or herringbone stitch. When making embroidered gloves any of the well-known embroidery stitches may be used. Herringbone stitch may also be used for sewing down the hem or binding on the wrist edge and for sewing in a strip of elastic where it is required to give a good fit at the wrist. The method for putting in this elastic is shown in Fig 7. You will notice that the stitches go through the material only and not through the elastic which is sewn down at each end. If the stitch is worked evenly, the glove shows an attractive pleated effect on the right side.
One drawback to sewing gloves by hand is that it is almost impossible to pin or baste the leather, as the holes made cannot be removed, spoiling the appearance of the glove and weakening the leather. For this reason you must be prepared to place and sew your seams at the same time. It means that you have to work slowly, although experience soon shows you the best way to go about it. Should you, for any reason, find it imperative to hold any particular seam in place as you work, use paper clips. Do not to allow them to scratch the surface of the leather.
Decorative details:-The decorative lines or "points" which adorn the back of the glove have previously been mentioned. These points often form part of the design, adding to the finished appearance of the glove. They are made while the trank (the back, palm, wrist and the backs and fronts of the fingers) is still flat, usually after the thumb has been put in. Most patterns will give some indication as to where the points should begin and end.
The classic method, used on plain gloves of the tailored type, particularly those worn by men, is to put in three small tucks. These are worked either in stab stitch or by machine. The tucks should start just under the base of the fingers and end a little above the wrist. The two outer ones usually slope in a little towards the bottom.
In order to avoid the crooked seam lines so often seen in these three decorative tucks, you should slant the middle line toward the little finger, rather than parallel to the straight folding line of the glove. The correct way of putting on the tucks is shown in Fig 8a. Another method is to put two curved tucks, starting about ½" apart, near the fingers and curving outwards to finish at the side seam on the outer edge and just below the thumb on the inner edge, Fig 8. A third tuck is sometimes placed between the other two.
Many factory-made gloves have the three lines worked in machine stitch. Each line is comprised of three rows of stitching, about one-sixteenth inch apart. The stitches must be very small and the lines must be perfectly straight. A row of crossed over-sewing also looks well and is a little more definite than stab stitch tucks, especially if a contrasting thread is used.
Another method is to decorate the back of the hand with a simple design executed in thonging (lacing). Use strips ⅛" wide, cut from the leather used for the gloves. Four methods of using thonging (lacing) are shown in Figs 9, 10, 11, and 12. The first three are worked by punching two parallel rows of holes ⅝" away from each other, each way. For the first two the number of holes may be odd or even, but for the design shown in Fig 11 the number of holes must be divisible by four. You will notice that if you want to work Fig 10 you must omit the top hole on one row and the bottom hole on the other, according to which hand the glove is intended for. For the fourth design you will need three rows of holes arranged as shown in the diagram.
Glove design:-The Western glove is often decorated with braiding, lacing and tooling. In making up your designs you can match gloves with handbags, shoes, costumes. Some glove makers add an extra flourish by adapting bows or fringes, tassels, braids, beads and covered buttons.
Wrist edges:-The finishing of the wrist edge is an important part of glove making. Sheepskin gloves may be left as they are and, if the wool is used inside, the edge may be turned up to form a cuff. Alternatively the edge may be bound with a strip of leather.
Gloves made from ordinary leather, chamois or suede may also have the wrist edge left as it is. Women's leather gloves are usually left without binding except for sport gloves. As a rule, men's gloves have a binding.
The simplest method of finishing a wrist edge is to turn up a single hem ¼" deep on the wrong side and herringbone or machine it in place. The former method does not show on the right side. Another method is to turn up a single hem ½" wide or a little wider if the leather is thick, on to the right side. Stab stitch or machine stitch all round ⅛" below the folded edge. Turn the raw edge over on to the wrong side and hem down, Fig 13. The effect of this is almost the same as binding with a strip of leather, which is worked as follows: Cut a strip of leather about ½" wide; the exact width depends on the thickness of the leather, thicker leather needing a wider strip than a thinner variety.
The length of the strip should be a little more than the distance round the wrist, including any slits or openings. Avoid seams in this strip as they make the work clumsy. Start the binding at the side seam and sew the strip either by hand or machine to the right side of the glove. When you reach the end, cut off the ends of the strip so that they just meet, and over-sew them very firmly. Press this seam as flat as possible and turn the binding over to the wrong side. Hem it down in the usual way. If machine stitching is used, work it on the right side and place it as close to the first seam as possible. A second row of stitching on the extreme edge is sometimes an improvement. Remember that when stitching leather the needle should be a fairly fine one.
Some chamois gloves are not bound, but are cut into scallops with a hole or small design of holes in each scallop. This method looks attractive when the gloves are new, but does not wear very well as the holes are apt to get pulled out of shape.
Another quite attractive method is to cut a strip of contrasting leather ½" wide into scallops. Turn in the wrist edge of the glove and top stitch it over the narrow strip so that the scalloped edge projects below the hem, Fig 14.
At one time a fringed trimming was fashionable and it is as well to know how to do this in case the fashion comes back. It is quite simple. Cut a strip of leather about 1" wide and as long as the gauntlet of the glove. Fringe one edge and sew into the side seam when the glove is being put together. A fringed edge, attached in the same way as the scalloped edge, can also be used, but is apt to become untidy in wear. Fur-backed gloves are usually finished with a narrow binding as described above.
When making gloves for men it is often necessary to insert a press stud as a fastening. When making lined gloves insert the lower half in the leather before the lining is sewn down by the wrist hem, so that the lining will cover the stud. The second half can be put in when the glove is finished. When making unlined gloves it is a good idea to cover the back of the stud with a small circle of leather neatly herringboned in place.
Inserting press studs is one of those simple things that everyone knows how to do — until they come to do it! I have, therefore, included instructions for performing this tricky little operation in Figs 15a and 15b. You will need a leather punch for making the holes through which the knobs of each half of the stud will go.
Since press studs are easily obtainable, buttons and buttonholes are not being used so much in glove making, although there are still people who prefer them. To make a buttonhole as shown in Fig 16, you will need a small piece of leather about 1" by 1½". Decide where the buttonhole is to be and lay your strip of leather face down on the right side over this spot. Put two rows of backstitch or machine stitching ³/16" apart across the middle, joining the ends to form a rectangle, Fig 16. Slit the two layers of leather between the stitching and carefully turn the small piece through the hole. Flatten it as much as you can and herringbone neatly all round. A row of machine stitching close to the edge of the buttonhole will help to make it flatter still. Such buttonholes are, of course, only suitable for very thin leather such as suede, Fig 17.
When sewing on buttons always make a shank. If the leather is thin and likely to pull away in wear, it is a good plan to sew a strip of strong tape under the buttons so that this will take the strain instead of the leather.