Elom

Stitching and edges

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I will present two of the problems that really bother me about my leather working.

Lets start with the easier one, that would be about stitching holes. How do you punch straight holes through both sides of leather with stitching prick. 99% of the time when I am practicing, the line on the upper piece of leather is straight then when I turn the leather to see how it went through I just want to cry, sometimes is diagonally, sometimes straight, sometimes of the edges. There is just no way that I can nail straight holes where I marked the line on both sides. Examples of that are visible on wallet with red thread. I have punched holes from the inside started at the top (I know it is not in straight line, must work on that) and on the other outer side it went completely diagonally in other direction, I would understand that it went inwards but it went outward and over the edges as visible on picture.

 

Second problem that I kind of frustrates me is about making edges smooth and nicely painted.
I sand my edges and they are really smooth but I just cant apply edge color evenly. I can apply, then sand it down and repeat this process 3-4 times and still edges look like waves of ocean. How does one make smooth colored edges?
(Problem is clearly visible on card pockets of red thread wallet)

I appreciate your time and help.

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To keep your stitches straight you should use a compass divider to scribe a stitch line around the edges.  Then use either a chisel or pricking punch to mark your holes.  Use a sharp awl to punch through the marks - you can mark a line on both sides and watch carefully where the awl is starting to come through and adjust so it hits the back line.

I use a roller pen to apply paint to edges and it allows a slightly thicker coat of paint which will flow to fill in voids.  Have not had any problem using this method.  Still need to sand and apply several coats.

Gary

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Elom,  Gary covered most of what you're struggling with and I will second the use of an awl over chisels.  You can use them to mark your stitch holes but I've found I get more desirable results with an awl, especially on thicker items like holsters etc.  Now, some people swear by stitching chisels and have VERY fine work to show for it, which brings me to the main point.  Practice.  You can succeed with either method as long as you eliminate the things that are going wrong, and the only way to do that is to assess where in your process that is failing you and make adjustments.

As for your edges, on thin leather like wallet insides, I do not edge them.  Ever.  Its nearly impossible to do it consistently even if you have an ether that tiny.  I will slick them, lightly or apply edge paint, but no edge beveling.

One the thing.  If your stitching is too close to the edge, you will also get waves as the thread thickness will distort the leather.  Move your stitch line inboard a little or use thinner thread.

 

Hope this helps.

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Here is one way to get straight stitch holes through 2 thin layers, which I have been using on a couple of wallets and a larger bag with visible stitches.

The leather I have used for these projects is 2 mm thick (veg tan for the wallets, chrome tan for the bag).
 

I'm using a 3 mm chisel with my projects. 

1) Use wing dividers to scribe the stitching line on the outside (visible side) of one piece, and use stitching chisel to make the holes down that line. (I'll call this the "top" piece. )

2) using the same wing divider measurement, scribe the stitching line on the INSIDE of the second piece (the flesh side of the "bottom" piece). (I also did a very light line on the outside/grain side of the leather so I could check the accuracy later on.)

3) Put the 2 pieces of leather together (flesh side to flesh side), so that the stitching lines overlap. Hold them together tightly, and check the alignment of the edges and the lines. Then use the stitching chisel to MARK the first few holes on the bottom piece by just pushing the chisel through the existing holes on the top piece, without using the mallet. Don't go all the way through the leather.

4) Remove the top piece. Now, you have the first set of holes correctly indexed on the bottom leather stitching line, on the flesh side of the leather. 

5) Go slowly -- keep the chisel VERTICAL over the line, and before striking with the mallet, make sure that all the chisel prongs are lined up ON the line, and not drifting off to one side or the other. (this is where I realize that something with more teeth than my 6 prong chisel would be useful, but I make do with what I have!) 

6)Since the chisel enables you to make consistently spaced holes, you can now use the chisel to complete the line, trusting that the holes in the top piece will line up with the bottom piece.  Every few strokes, check your line by lifting up the leather, and then looking to make sure that your holes are following the line on what will be the visible side of the leather. 

This should help keep your stitch lines the same distance from the edge, making the burnishing/edging process easier. 
As ImMikeToo points out, for a thicker leather this might not work. For stitching those thicker leathers using an awl, you should definitely look at Neil Armitage's videos:  <https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8urn9l3pybW5LztUa6zbOA>; He does an extensive review of pricking irons and their use, as well. 

 

Edited by DJole

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Thank you to all three for fast and constructive response. I will definitely try the processes you have provided me with, looking forward to make straight stitching line.

To eliminate wavy edges i will be looking into buying a 0.5 - 0.6 mm thread instead of using the current one which is 1mm.

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5 hours ago, DJole said:

2) using the same wing divider measurement, scribe the stitching line on the INSIDE of the second piece (the flesh side of the "bottom" piece). (I also did a very light line on the outside/grain side of the leather so I could check the accuracy later on.)

3) Put the 2 pieces of leather together (flesh side to flesh side), so that the stitching lines overlap. Hold them together tightly, and check the alignment of the edges and the lines. Then use the stitching chisel to MARK the first few holes on the bottom piece by just pushing the chisel through the existing holes on the top piece, without using the mallet. Don't go all the way through the leather.

4) Remove the top piece. Now, you have the first set of holes correctly indexed on the bottom leather stitching line, on the flesh side of the leather. 

Thanks DJole for the tip.  I'll give it a try.

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17 minutes ago, mike02130 said:

Thanks DJole for the tip.  I'll give it a try.

You're welcome. It worked well for me, since I used it to make these things:
http://djole.altervista.org/djole/Publications/Leather/Samurai Wallet/SamuraiWallet.htm
http://djole.altervista.org/djole/Publications/Leather/GL wallet/GLWallet.htm
and this work in progress:
*http://djole.altervista.org/djole/Publications/Leather/Camino Bag/CaminoBag.htm

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I have used a wing divider, chisels, awls, and a tiny drill in my dremel tool. The key is practice, being very careful to keep what ever you use, straight and even, at 90 degrees  to the leather.  I have a  L shape piece of metal, that I will sometimes hold up against my awl to make sure it is properly positioned.  thick leather I usually drill the holes.

As far as smooth edges. I really like the slicker that attaches to my dremel tool.Also, dye your edges before you slick them

If I use edge kote, I will thin it down for a couple of coats, I think that it absorbs better into the edges.

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Just in case it was missed, always lay your stitching (or lacing) line on the OUTSIDE of your project before punching anything as it is the side that is seen most and sets the first impression for all.  Also, don't punch all the way through with the pricking iron/diamond punch because if you don't hold it perfectly straight and vertical that you will never be able to go through all of the layers to meet an equal distance from you edge on both sides.  It is much better, and easier in the long run, to just punch through your first layer (your exterior layer) and then use a sharp stitching awl to go through the rest of them.

Regarding edges, I only burnish and finish the edges of the thinner leathers and once the whole thing is together I will sand, edge, burnish, and then finish with leather dye (edge paint is too clumpy and it gives an edge a fake look in my opinion).

Hope this clears up some of your questions.

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Hi every one.

Just to put my 2 pence in.

I have only been doing leather work for about 18 months, up until a month ago I have been using the cheap Chinese stitching irons and a set of the seiwa irons.  I took the plunge and got a set of Wuta irons in 3.85 mm, WHAT a difference they made, You can go right through on leather up to 3 to 3.5, and it stitches lovely using 0.6 to 0.8 thread, any more than that you end up with a bigger hole so up thread to 1.0,  I paid the full price for the wuta @ £68.00 free shipping for a 2 tooth and 8 tooth, they are beautifully made, a good weight and sail in and out of the leather, just to hold and look at them is a pleasure.  You will not waste your money buying them, I have just ordered o set of 3 mm.  If still unsure take a look at Nigel Armitage on his pricking iron reviews.

Hope this helps

Paul W

 

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