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Basic Saddle Stitch Tutorial By Nigel Armitage

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I noticed some folks wanting samples of the different colors of Tiger thread. Cy at Leatherwurx has samples and will sell you small quantities for special projects where you don't want to buy a whole roll. He is real good to deal with as well. Garry.

https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/218679671/samples-22-tiger-thread-samples-ritza-25?ref=hp_rv

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I have been using Nigel's videos to improve my stitching (which I love to do).  I am right handed but hold the leather the way Nigel does (who is left handed right?)  My stitches end up looking better on the back of the piece than the front of the piece.  Thoughts? Comments? Help?!  Thanks all.

 

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Well CLW, I can't comment on your question, but this is a convenient place to mention that last year I went to a demonstration & lecture by Nigel. On his recommendation I have done two things that are cheap, easy,  and have improved my stitching

I no longer use a stitching groover, I use dividers to mark the stitching line. I got a pair from a secondhand tool stall on my local market for £2-50, about $3-50.

I changed from Tandy 'big eye' needles #1195-00 to John James size 2; they are also cheap enough.

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Zuludog, I started with the JJ size 2 although I find myself using the 2 sizes above that more recently (caveat: I mainly stitch thick saddle leathers with 0.8 or 1mm thread, usually Tiger). You can place small orders directly with JJ on-line. Interesting to note that the English company JJ's needles are/were made in China whereas the American company Osbourne's needles are/were made in England (at least they were last time I checked)!

I also started with the 7 ppi pricking iron suggested by Nigel but, again, found it too fine for the work I do, so now far more likely to use 4-6 ppi.  I can't imagine ever wanting to go more than 7 ppi (but some folk do).

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I make mostly knife sheaths from 3 to 3,5mm veg tan. I haven't tried everything or every combination available, but I've now settled on this  - 

I mark the stitching line with dividers

I use a Tandy Craftool stitching chisel with 4mm spacing which is about 6 spi. I polished the prongs

An awl that is a bit smaller than most, about 2mm wide, from https://www.bowstock.co.uk

I've tried Ritza thread, but I don't like it, I prefer 18/3 linen. I have natural from Bowstock, and various colours from other makers - Crawfords, Somac, & Fil au Chinois 

Recently I got Some Seiwa European Leather Stitching Chisels from Goods Japan, They have narrower prongs than Craftool. I've tried them on scrap and they're good, but I have yet to use them in on an actual piece of work. Do not confuse these with Seiwa Diamond Leather Stitching Chisel as they did not get a good review. See Nigel's Pricking Iron Reviews #8 &#9

Yes, I ordered my needles from John James, and noticed they were made in China

I also got an awl blade from them and mounted it in a haft made by a local wood turner. Had to sharpen & polish it myself, which was a bit tedious

 

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I only use a stitching groover for effect on a belt.  I like the JJ needles too.  I don't care for the Tandy big eyes unless the holes are round.   I love  love love the Tiger thread but cannot seem to appreciate the Lin  threads.  Have fun , awl! (Pun there)

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On 7/11/2018 at 1:07 PM, Sheilajeanne said:

The links on the first page no longer work, so reposting:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGuiha5S2oE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ue3zBg0bdA

Thanks for the updated links! It's been a few years since I've been on this site and I'm fixing to make my son a black powder possibles bag for his birthday. There's no "Tandy Leather Kit" for this project so I'll be doing this one from scratch.  I've never stiched leather before. At ALL. I'll be posting back with questions and/or progress.

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Anyone know where to get one of those angled English "pricking" punches? All I can seem to find are the diamond head ones.

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9 hours ago, Toddo said:

Anyone know where to get one of those angled English "pricking" punches? All I can seem to find are the diamond head ones.

They are called pricking irons. Wuta, Blanchard, Crimson Hide, KS Blade Punch all make some.

If I had my choice starting out again I would get the Crimson Hide version.

They act as a pricking iron and stitching chisels in one. Like awl blades all lined up in a row.

Nigel does a nice review of them on YouTube.

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5 hours ago, bikermutt07 said:

They are called pricking irons. Wuta, Blanchard, Crimson Hide, KS Blade Punch all make some.

If I had my choice starting out again I would get the Crimson Hide version.

They act as a pricking iron and stitching chisels in one. Like awl blades all lined up in a row.

Nigel does a nice review of them on YouTube.

Thanks BM

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Here is a link to Abbey England they have traditional pricking irons.

http://abbeyengland.com/Store/CategoryID/442/List/0/catpagesize/0/Level/a/ProductID/69231

Also here website can be hard work but they good to deal with.

http://www.leprevo.co.uk/sewing.htm

 

Hope this helps

JCUK

 

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10 hours ago, jcuk said:

Here is a link to Abbey England they have traditional pricking irons.

http://abbeyengland.com/Store/CategoryID/442/List/0/catpagesize/0/Level/a/ProductID/69231

Also here website can be hard work but they good to deal with.

http://www.leprevo.co.uk/sewing.htm

 

Hope this helps

JCUK

 

Thank You

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No worries let me know how you get on sorry for late reply been pretty busy.

 

 

JCUK

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On 2/12/2019 at 7:30 PM, Toddo said:

Anyone know where to get one of those angled English "pricking" punches? All I can seem to find are the diamond head ones.

@Toddo it's important to note that pricking irons are different from stitching chisels.  They are not intended to punch all the way through the leather.  Instead irons mark where the thread will go and prime the leather for the awl to punch through.  It can be a more laborious process than the chisels, depending on the quality of chisels and thickness of the leather.

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On 1/4/2013 at 11:45 PM, immiketoo said:

Through the wonders of the internet and what I call internetworking, we have a series of videos made by LW member Nigel Armitage for another member. There have been a LOT of questions about the basics of hand stitching and I thought the entire site could benefit from Nigel's expertise. Take a look at his work and his other videos to see why I am impressed with his work. Thanks Nigel for taking the time to create these videos and I am looking forward to the next installment!

 

http://youtu.be/zeQt-nvLWyo

 

http://youtu.be/xS1j_Uifmhw

Message says Video unavailable for both the videos.

Regards

Sangrati

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14 minutes ago, Sangrati said:

Message says Video unavailable for both the videos.

Regards

Sangrati

https://youtu.be/TGuiha5S2oE

here you go, saddlestitch in detail, just search nigel armitage on youtube and it'll get you there

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On 8/11/2019 at 1:52 PM, koreric75 said:

https://youtu.be/TGuiha5S2oE

here you go, saddlestitch in detail, just search nigel armitage on youtube and it'll get you there

Thanks a million. Really very nice. Hope, I will be able to do similar quality stitching some day.

Regards

Sangrati

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Great videos, I needed some of these tips for another project.Awesome !

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I suppose everyone has teir own way woith theor stitching, and for me,. that is based oin the type of work I do.  As it is all heavy horse ( draught ) horse harness and tack, I am often working wiith thicker heavier leather than most other work where at  times with strap work, it's 3 layers of 4 MM harness backs prepped, tacked up and hand sewn in the full 3 layers making anything from 15 - 18mm in total.  It's technique much more than brute force and well polished awls. also bearing in mind is the job this harness has to go and do. It has to contend with a ton of horse of a single set of harness, coveriong strength, durability and as much if not more the fit and comfort for  a heavy horse in work in work hauling heavy stuff and ploughing etc. The stitching has to reflect the rigours the harness will go through.  Things like awl hole size are important on heavy horse harness,  too big a awl hole is not so good for my work as I want as much leather between the stitches for strength. I see other leather work and the leading and lower ends of the slants the awl leave are wider than the row of laid stitches, wider slants help more to get a more pronounced herriong bone look to the stitch. 

Thread, I always use Somac waxed linen thread,    3 / 18     4 / 18 and 5 / 18 is the three common soze threads for me , Tiger thread is harsher on the surface of the raditional oak bark tanned hides I use from Bakers in Devon, UK, Tiger thread can have a tendency to cut through the surface especially when certain parts of the harness are really being put through its paces and the horse is working hard.  I make ,my own wax from traditional pitch, beeswax  and Rozin and melt it down and ball it up in cold water, no wax is beter for harness work and with the linen thread it works the best for strength as when stitching woith linen thread and proper harness waxed thread when you pull the stitches through it melts the wax a bit and then after some time, the wax sets hard around the thread which in time creates what is call a post inside the leather, makes like a cement which has extra grip to keep the leather together and stong even of the outer part of the stitch has worn away over the years in use.

One thing when stitching, I work form the fornt of ny work, that's how my hands work best to do saddle stitch,   I'll put the grain sode needle through forst, cross the needles over on the flesh side then the second needle is passed throiugh while pulling the thread of the first needle with it then when the second needle is half way through, I have the thread of the first needle in my right hand then I will make a clock wise loop over the second needle then pull the second needle through the loop then lay the stitch as usual, this creates what I suppose is a lock stitch insode the leather much like a sewing machine, but the purpose of doing this loop over the second needle each stitch is that this is what melts the wax I run the thread through pre stitching to then become what is the post inside the leather, If I didnt loop it so the two bits of thread inside the hole are not entwined as it were,   the two thread sections would be seperate, if the stitching  wears and or breaks the thread would just peel undone whereas by making this loop over the second needle each stitch, if the thread does break or wear on the oiuter surface then the post that is cemented from the wax inside the leather, then this will keep the leather together, it just makes it stronger again all round durable stitch.

 

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Good to hear from someone specializing in heavy leathers Philg9.  I have some thick saddle leather offcuts which I use to make edge-protectors for large axes.  I've often wondered what TPI is typically used for heavy horse harnesses - I expect you can enlighten us? 

Love heavy horses, magnificent beasts. Quite scarce now, around here anyway, so a treat to see them.  At least one old thatched farmhouse had their old heavy horse harnesses hung on the wall for decoration for many years, not sure if they are still there, as the owners I knew have passed on. Happily  Wadworths Brewery in Devizes still use horses for delivering locally and, of course, marketing.

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8 hours ago, Tannin said:

Good to hear from someone specializing in heavy leathers Philg9.  I have some thick saddle leather offcuts which I use to make edge-protectors for large axes.  I've often wondered what TPI is typically used for heavy horse harnesses - I expect you can enlighten us? 

Love heavy horses, magnificent beasts. Quite scarce now, around here anyway, so a treat to see them.  At least one old thatched farmhouse had their old heavy horse harnesses hung on the wall for decoration for many years, not sure if they are still there, as the owners I knew have passed on. Happily  Wadworths Brewery in Devizes still use horses for delivering locally and, of course, marketing.

Indeed, heavy leathers is not so common thee days but thankfully Bakers stil provide what I need.  I cannot be doing with Veg tan for my work, it isnt half the leather of the oak bark in strength and dsurability. Heavy horse harness made form Veg tan stands out like a sore thumb, so not the right leather for it, so much so it does not even look right.

 

As for TPI is typical.  Most all heavy strap work like breeching seats and crippers, the breeching back strap, all retaining straps like brake straps, chain carrying straps that all feel the force of a ton of horse are done at 6 TPI, 6 is the magical number as it isnt  course looking like a 5 TPI would be but still has full strength as your likely to get and it still leaves plenty of leather between each stitch. If heavy thick straps are sewn to close like 8 or 9 TPI then it weakens the leather somewhat.   Next I use 7 TPI a lot for hame straps to latch the hames onto a collar,  all driving reins, Bridle cheeks etc martingale and other decorative straps and parts,    Clincher brow bands although will use  8 TPI for a brow band to go in a more refined set , then  for some finer nose bands,   more decorative parts especially on patent leather decorative parts especially for show harness I will use 8 TPI, then occasioanlly if I am making some decorative parts that are to be something that bit more special  then I will occasionally break out a 9 TPI,   so it is a combination of those three sizes mainly,  I have irons up to 18 TPI but I dont ever use that fine, they just make the irons look a completr set on a tool board above my bench.   They are all old irons as one thing that drivs me wild is the modern made irons, most of them have a teeth width that is far too wide for me.  I much prefer narrow teeth irons.   With those, you mark your stitch marks with them then after you have stitched through the work, the teeth are that wide you can still see the ends of the slants top and bottom of the stitch, this makes any piece of work have an ugly finish, just doesnt do it for me, also folk who punch awl holes far too big then necessary,   then when you look at the stitching afterwards, you can see the thread but it's in a dirty great gash. with heavy horse harness,  one thing that needs to happen is once you have pulled each stitch tight, it should close the hole you awled up a bit adding to the strength.

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Indeed, heavy leathers is not so common thee days but thankfully Bakers still provide what I need.

Wait - Baker's? Are they Mennonites? When I lived in Richmond Hill, there was a Baker's Harness Shop just a short distance from our house at Bathurst and Hwy. 7.  They did heavy horse harness, but also catered to local English riders, and their needs: light tack and saddles, tack repair, etc.

When the Bakers decided to give up their farm and sugar bush, and move to the States to join other Mennonites, a non-Mennonite named Carmen had already been apprenticed with Mr. Baker, and taken over the business. Since then, the shop has moved several times, and is now devoted to the needs of the local English riding fraternity only. They no longer make heavy horse harness.

https://www.bakerssaddlery.com/articles.asp?ID=83

Of course, I'm wondering if there's a connection between the Baker you mentioned, and the family I knew in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Maybe the harness making branch of the business followed Mr. Baker to the States, though I know you are in the U.K. Perhaps another branch of the same family?

Edit: not Mennonites, but Pennsylvania Dutch, which also includes Mennonites and Amish. I remember going into the shop where they sold maple syrup, and the women who were behind the counter had on long cotton print dresses, and lace bonnets. And the Bakers always used horsepower on the farm and in the sugar bush.

https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1455409-family-comes-to-grips-with-thornhill-development/

Edited by Sheilajeanne

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Sheila, I think Phil was referring to the UK's last traditional oak tannery in the UK: https://www.jfjbaker.co.uk/  Not aware of any Mennonites in UK.

Phil thanks, so 6 is the magic number. I figured it would like be less that 7 but thought you might use 4 or 5, so surprised to read that you use 7.8.9 quite often.  Sound like 6 is perhaps what  should aim for too. 

My (new) J. Dixon 7 TPI iron was originally created with excessively wide tines (i.e. made excessively long cuts for my needs) but I contacted them, sent it back and they altered it for me, without question or charge (they cost an arm and a leg to purchase though!). The tines are still pretty wide though.  Last I heard, J. Dixon had closed or gone bankrupt.  I did hear that descendants of George Barnsley (Geo. Barnsley) were starting up again a small way initially, a year or so ago.

Edited by Tannin
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Phil, I am also impressed to read that you use a highly polished awl. Awl shaping , sharpening and polishing tips are always welcome here - if you care to share some? 

Being a relative novice I struggled a lot with that, even following some of Nigels excellent and helpful tips for stitching multiple layers (something he makes look straightforward of course!).  The problem being me and my inadequately prepared awls no doubt.  So more recently I have been using (hushed voice) a cheap Dremel-like tool to drill my holes after first marking them out with a pricking iron.  Would prefer to get away from the Dremel-lie tool but it improved my results in the short term (being a cheap copy it has only 1/10th the power rating of a real Dremel - that's ok for my needs, probably safer that way!).  I am a traditionalist at heart and dislike using power tools, esp. for leather work.

Edited by Tannin

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