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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. soccerdad

    Avoiding machine stitching hypnosis

    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.
  4. soccerdad

    Stohlman's Book Method

    Good idea. In my experience, it's important to have more than one technique so you can adapt to different leathers and projects.
  5. soccerdad

    Stohlman's Book Method

    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.
  6. soccerdad

    First Sewing Attempt--PITA

    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.
  7. soccerdad

    Cobra 4 presser foot leaving marks

    I'm an amateur so I hesitate to say much on the forums, but Andre's remark rings true for me.
  8. soccerdad

    Cobra 4 presser foot leaving marks

    Just curious ... do you think that with practice you'd get to a reasonable speed?
  9. soccerdad

    Cobra 4 presser foot leaving marks

    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.
  10. soccerdad

    Thread Strength Comparison Test

    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!
  11. soccerdad

    I think I did it!...?

    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
  12. soccerdad

    I think I did it!...?

    I'm not seeing a photo ... maybe I'm doing it wrong??
  13. soccerdad

    Nylon thread quality issues

    How old is too old? For instance, if somebody sold me a spool that had 2014 or 2013 on it, would that be bad form? Thanks for any rule of thumb you can pass along.
  14. soccerdad

    Dirty tiger thread

    When I stitched waxed yellow Ritza into struck-through black Hermann Oak, it picked up black specks and marks. I tried all sorts of things to clean the thread but never managed it. As a result, I have a terrific black briefcase with yellow thread and solid bronze lock, but I can't sell it. The case looks fine from a few feet away, but bad on any close examination. Rrrrr. The thread vendor said this staining (or whatever the term) sometimes happens when pulling light-colored thread through dark leather and knew no remedy. Around that time, I tested the yellow on a different manufacturer's black veg tan and had no problems. So, I'm sorry to say that I have no solutions for you, but I am careful about such things now and run tests before embarking on such work. Best of luck.