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I see high end goods made with exotic leathers pieced together to make wider panels.  The seams are nearly invisible.  I want to learn how to achieve that look.

I bought a couple carp skins from Springfield a while back.  They're not quite wide enough as one piece to cover my cane handles with.  They're around 3 to 3 1/2 inches wide and I need closer to 5 inches wide. 

I decided to experiment on one of them to see if I could make it wider.

I cut it in half and trimmed the edges so I could put the bottom edge of one piece on the top of the top edge of the other in an attempt at keeping the scale direction running the same way. 

I lined them up face to face and stitched them together using a saddle stitch and 0.6 mm tiger thread.  The leather was pretty stiff so I soaked it in some water to make it more pliable and folded the edges of the seam open on the back side.  I clamped it open and flat overnight so it could dry.

This is where it's at now.

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I'm mostly satisfied for a first attempt. Due to the scale pattern a perfect match just isn't possible. I'm ok with that. It's usable for a handle cover and wetting the fish leather made it much more pliable and easy to mold.  It's pretty stiff and almost papery feeling when dry.  The seam is visible, but not bad.  I'll have to pad it somehow so the edges by the seam don't show under the leather. My stitching chisel is large for the thread size.  There are a few small holes at the stitch line but they're not visible unless you hold it up to a light. If I do it this way again I'll use my sewing machine and regular thread for a less bulky, flatter seam and line it with wax paper.  the leather wanted to stick to the wood.  I'll also use wider boards.

Am I on the right track with this method?  I know this method can be improved. How do the pros join two or more smaller pieces together for a larger panel?  What should I be doing differently?  Should I try just butting the two pieces together and gluing them to a backing of some sort?  I'm concerned about gaps at the seam opening up if I try that.

I would like to use some exotics like these skins and ostrich legs, I'm looking at toad skins too,  but many are too small to make one piece covers from them.

Thanks for any advice.

 

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This is a great question/experiment. I don't really have an answer. But there's a video of an upholster joining edges together simply with glue and a fabric lining. Maybe this will help?

 

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You're definitely on the right track. This technique is called turned edges and is a valid approach for putting some pieces of leather together with the stitching next to hidden. Problem with this approach is that the stitching becomes visible when the seam is under heavy stress. You can improve this by using smaller holes and tighter stitching, but from what I know the only method to truly hide the stitching line is by using a piped edge. The pipe completely covers the stitching line even under heavy stress. However a piped edge is nothing I'd use to cover a cane handle but on the other hand there is also no stress to the leather on a handle as well. So try to use a higher spi and smaller holes and you're good to go...

Good job on your first attempt.

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Thank you. It's good to see I'm on the right track.

The method in the video is interesting and I'm guessing that's how the high end bags are made, by gluing the leather strips on a backing to form panels, but I would be concerned (maybe needlessly) about the joint opening over time. A cane handle is low stress but is constantly held.  The rubbing and sweat from hands might cause the glue to fail.

I'll stick with stitching the pieces together.  I'm not too concerned about the thickness right at the seam so much but will need to skive the turned under edges.  I don't want them telegraphing through the leather.  A padded grip will help with that too.

One of my old domestic machines will handle these thinner leathers just fine.  I'll pick up some leather needles and try sewing a panel on a machine.  That should give me the smaller holes and higher SPI along with a less bulky thread. 

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Nice

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More like "OK" and "Shows Potential" at this point.  I can and will use this one as it is but the next one will be done differently. The flaws are there but small and livable.   The plain boards I used smashed the scale texture a bit. I want to preserve the textures of these exotics as much as I can.  They're a large part of the attraction to me.  I'll have to pad and line my clamping boards next time. Maybe a little less pressure will help too. I'll also skive the edges and use a sewing machine with small thread on the seam.  That should take care of most of the issues.  Maybe.  I hope.

It's a good thing I like learning new things.  I have a lot to learn.

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After looking at this again, it's very similar to how piping is done. French seams are done similarily too. To really keep the stitching hidden, Charon is right. Smaller holes and higher spi. But I think you will need round stitching holes as well. Anything angled will show the stitching. I'm not familiar with sewing machines but, needle shape may be worth consideation? Hope you figure it out!

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I might try just a regular round sewing machine needle on some scrap first and see how it works.  IIRC leather needles have a triangular point to cut through the leather.  That may not be completely necessary for what I'm doing.

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