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About soccerdad

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  1. Glad you figured out something that works for you. Happy to put my two cents in. Since you like the slant and want to see it on both sides (good call, BTW), when the time comes to buy new irons, you might consider the slanted-slit (Euro) type. Happy stitching!
  2. Tough to coach this from afar, but ponder the following: It's possible to over-tighten such that you decrease the slant. The amount of pressure you'll use will vary depending on leather thickness, thread, irons, and their relative sizes and configurations, etc. In thin leather, you may only get a slant on one side. For practice, I recommend going with 8 oz at least. The slant produced by diamond irons I've used tends to be less pronounced and more fragile than so-called European type irons that make slanted slits: / / / / / Lots of terrific irons out there in this formation. Watch the Armitage YouTube vids for an education on some of the options. I've recently bought from Crimson Hides, Kevin Lee and Amy Roke. All work well for me. Regarding the technique itself, try this (assumes back side is on your left). Keep the order you described and the cast. When you tighten, pull the left hand first, and pull up at an angle of maybe 30 degrees or so above the stitch. Hold that position so the thread stays high in the front side of the hole, then pull the right hand down at 30 degrees or so. Then, with left hand high and right hand low, just snug it. Don't pull hard. You may need to experiment with various thread sizes, tensions, leather thicknesses, etc. Good luck!
  3. I've heard that flattening the stitches offers some protection by lowering their profile and avoiding some scuffs. If you stitch in a groove, it gets them out of the way even more. If you go for slanted stitches, the hammering sometimes improves that look a bit.
  4. I meant to add: I like the design and workmanship of your closure, in particular the reinforcement (decoration? both?) around the flap opening. It's an attractive and solid-looking closure with interesting details and very little hardware.
  5. Very nice! I like the basic design and the neatness of the work? My personal preference is to have a smaller space between the flap and the top of the bag. Did you consider finishing all the edges in dark brown as you did for the body of the bag? Could look more unified that way. I try to match up the tops of the gusset with the front and back. Overall, a likable piece, for sure. Thanks for the look.
  6. On longer runs, I sometimes go into soft focus, too. I don't have "the" answer, but here's what helps me: I sometimes lean in too close, especially at the beginning of a run, so I make sure I'm in ideal range for my bifocal lenses. This usually that puts me in a better sitting posture as well. I try consistently to relax my eyes, which seem to get too locked in at these soft-focus moments. Along that line, and as obvious as this sounds, I make sure to blink. Making deliberate slow blinks routinely at these times helps me avoid the problem or refocus rapidly when I come out of the blink. I try to remember to focus on objects farther away every few minutes. During those times, I make sure to move my eyes from side to side, and up and down. As I write these tips, I think I recall learning most of them during a speed-reading course many years ago. Good luck, and let us know how it goes. I'm eager to hear what others suggest.
  7. Good idea. In my experience, it's important to have more than one technique so you can adapt to different leathers and projects.
  8. I've sharpened lots of woodworking hand tools for years, but I had a tougher time with leather working awls than I would have expected. The geometry is so different, and the metal seems quite different as well. My take: If you are going to work thick, tough leathers with an awl, get a first-rate awl blade that is very sharp to begin with so you really know for sure what it can do and how it should feel in use. The difference between a badly-made one and a good one is huge. I started just as you are doing, and it's an excellent traditional method. I'm glad I learned that way for all sorts of reasons. Now I use stitching chisels, which put holes all the way through the leather, and the sewing is a separate step. I produce work faster and neater this way, and it's a lot easier on the hands.
  9. I second the idea of using a stitching chisel to punch all the way through both pieces of leather. For me, that not only makes the stitching easier but also makes the back side neater looking than pushing an awl through. With regard to light-colored thread taking on a tint, I've had that problem at times as well. I make sure to keep things clean, including my hands, wax that goes on the thread, clothes, anything the thread touches such as the floor). Depending on the project, you might be able to stitch two or three shorter runs rather than one long run in order to start with clean thread multiple times. In my experience, threads sometimes pick up color from the leather itself. I've not had any luck cleaning thread after the stitching is finished, so now I test it on a scrap and switch to dark thread if need be.
  10. I'm an amateur so I hesitate to say much on the forums, but Andre's remark rings true for me.
  11. Just curious ... do you think that with practice you'd get to a reasonable speed?
  12. Someone on the Cobra staff suggested using a single-foot setup and putting a strip of thin, dense cardboard under the path of the foot. The foot hits the cardboard and not the leather. Tried it once just to check it out, and it seemed to work pretty well. If you are sewing straight lines on belts, maybe you'd get the hang of it, though it was as fussy as it sounds first time out. I love bridle, but in my experience it marks easier than other leathers. When I was asking this same question about machine marks a couple of years ago, one piece of advice I got was to work with leathers that take the foot pressure without taking on a dent. We get attached to our materials, so that was hard to swallow. But I think there's a lot in it. For me, it's about adaptations, tradeoffs, etc. For instance, although my machine stitches perfectly well, the stitch itself never looks half as good as a saddle stitch to my eye (and I try not to look at the backside stitch at all!). I remind myself of the massive time savings with machine stitching. Plus, precious few customers notice that particular detail and even fewer are willing to pay a fair price for saddle stitching. When it comes to the leather itself, using the machine has prompted me to experiment beyond the firm veg tans I hand-stitched and has opened up lots of new possibilities for high-quality work. Good luck.
  13. This is really interesting, spectre6K. Thanks for all the work. I don't recall seeing this sort of thing all in one place for common leather threads. When I'm sewing leather bags and wallets, I think a lot about resistance to UV as well as to abrasion for items that get handled a lot, such as wallets. I've seen some info on these for nylon and polyester but not for natural fibers. If I remember correctly, nylon doesn't resist UV as well as polyester, a consideration for outdoor applications, but nylon resists abrasion better than polyester. Thanks again!
  14. Now I see it. Thanks. Congrats on your stitches! Just a thought ... would help (me, at least) to see a straight line in better light. Also, if you've not shown the front of the stitch, that'd be helpful, as well. When starting out, I found it useful to put an identical line on front and back to practice angling the awl accurately on the axis that goes through the leather. Can't tell from the image ... just make sure you are completing the stitch the same way every time, and it will look consistent. Way to go! Oh, now I'm seeing the shot of the front. Yes, the second line is looking more consistent. Keep going. I love seeing another saddle stitches come into the world! Cheers
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