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For the HAND SEWING LEATHER WORKERS out there-

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1WOKsT64yEA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

This "How To" video was made for my buddy in Balian. This video includes how to begin stitching with the sewing awl, finish the seam, splice in longer thread, replace your bobbin, and replace the needle. So glad to share this with other handy people in the How To World.

The sewing awl is an amazing tool. For the past 6 years, it has been a fruitful partner. This method is THREE TIMES FASTER than sewing with a single needle and thread. The sewing machine is great for leather, but sometimes it just can't handle seams that refuse to lay flat. As a general rule, if you can use a sewing machine- do. When you can't, the sewing awl is a versatile and efficient option.

The best sewing awl I've found yet, is the one sold through "Tandy Leather Factory." If you don't have one of these Tandy shops in your city, it's easy to purchase through Amazon, Ebay, or Tandyleatherfactory.com. Expect to pay between 14-18$ for the tool. Buy "waxed poly sewing awl thread" to go with it. A big spool of waxed poly thread ranges from 6-20$ - Sold at the same online locations. Links provided below. Try to avoid buying a sewing awl with a hidden bobbin- like the "Speedy Stitcher"- this sewing awl is no good because you can't rewind the thread, and controlling the thread tension is much harder. While you're at it- order a replacement needle for when it does break. Because it will break. That needle is another 3$ well worth it. Your future self with thank you. Get a "size 8" needle. That is what you see here in the video. "Size 5" is smaller, but the sewing awl thread feels too big for it (sometimes when pulling the needle out, the needle will get stuck.)

The instructions one the back of the sewing awl will leave you wanting. No, no, there is no instruction booklet that fell out. "Surely this can't be it" - you will think. Worry not, dear friend. Here is all you need to get your leather project underway.

Important note: the rubber mat you see here allows the needle point to stay sharp, and reduce the risk of snapping your needle or stabbing your leg. I highly recommend getting a rubber mat. But if you are cheap, an old yoga mat folded in half will be fine.

This tutorial comes from the leather design studio of Ahni Radvanyi. (Check out the shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ahniradvanyi, and the most recent collection at http://ahnigear.com/)

--Tandy Leather Factory.com Sewing Awl: http://www.tandyleather.com/en/product/sewing-awl-kit

--Amazon.com tandy sewing awl:
http://www.amazon.com/Tandy-Leather-Factory-Stitch-Sewing/dp/B00A2C8M6K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450413240&sr=8-1&keywords=sewing+awl+tool

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That is a nicely produced tutorial, and will help alot of beginners with basic auto awl stitching, however I think the triple speed claim is bull.

First, single needle sewing is much less common in leather, and is a totally different type of stitch than a 2 thread lockstitch that the auto-awl produces. Comparing the speed to a 2 needle, 2 thread saddle stitch is a better comparison.

Second, the faster way of doing it is in a stitching clamp, not on a mat. Moving the material up to see the back and then down to the table to punch the hole wasted time.

Also, good luck with that awl on thick veg tan.

Auto-sewing awls are ok for repairs and emergencies but can not come close to the strength and neatness of a proper saddle stitch.

Since you put your triple speed claim in bold, I will too. I am not generally a competitive person, but I have to:

I bet I could at least match your awl speed if not beat it saddle stitching. Chrome tan like you use or veg tan..Quality of stitch counts..

May have to have a showdown at Center Camp Cafe.............There, i said it.

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Yep, Ive used a speed stitcher. Works fine for some instances but for the work shown my money is on Tinker.

rick

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Love it. TinkerTailor- you got grit.

I can only speak for myself when I say it sews 3x as fast. When I got into leatherwork- tried to using the forked tools to punch even holes along an edge. Then sewed with 2 needles like <><><><><><> on top and bottom. That took waaaaaaaay to long.

The sewing awl f***ing saved my life.

I've sold over 400 hand made bags in the past 7 years through word of mouth and the online store. That is not a statement I am bragging about- it's one I am more embarrassed by. It took 7 years for me to relocate to Bali to hire professional tailors to sew for me. Now i am focused on production and sharing skills.

We are about to get off topic- be warned:

TinkerTailor- no doubt you got skillz to teach me. School me, please. Center Camp Cafe- killer. Let's do it.

Burning Man this year will happen for me. I am going with "Prosthesis, the anti-robot" (google that for a giggle) and the hydrolic machine they have been building for over a year now. I plan to create the pilot suit in Vancouver this summer, if all goes according to agreement.

Sending you love, Leather Man.

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Yeah, the awl is a way to get faster initially, and pretty easy to learn but it can become a crutch and limit your speed and more importantly quality. There is the kicker, initially the speed of a saddle stitch is slower, but it is so much neater. As you get faster with the saddle, you get to a point where you are only a little bit slower but way neater. This is enough of a selling point that the increase in price usually makes up for the time.

Here is a tip: get an old treadle machine and use it just to punch holes. They have long stitch lengths and edge guides. It does not matter of the bobbin/thread stuff is there, or if the machine works, as long as the needle goes up and down. I punch pieces separate and then put them together afterwards all the time and the holes line up fine. If you have stretchy/slippery leather, put a layer of masking tape on the seam, punch the holes, then remove the tape before sewing.
Here is a seam i hand sewed after machine punching. It is 3 layers of 12oz duck canvas to 5 oz leather in 69 hand stitched with a cable stitch. The stitch goes 2 forward one back with 1 needle. Took 30 mins to do. I punched the holes while the bottom was flat.

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I haven't been to blackrock in almost a decade, It is about time I go back. It is difficult to get enough time off because i work in the bicycle industry and that is high season. If only BM was in the winter.... If i go, I will be with fire conclave peeps. Been fire-dancing for 20 years now. I at one time was the co-ordinator of the fire performances at Shambhala, before fire bans due to drought brought that to a close.

You should get nomex thread so you can say your stitching is burn proof, and charge more for it....

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Do you use a leather needle in the machine? Any problem with the holes closing up?

Yes i use a leather needle, and in some leather the holes close some, however once they are there, a little wiggle with an awl opens them up. I have one of those 000 fat harness needles glued into a piece of dowel as a hole enlarging awl. I like a round awl for this as it does not cut the hole bigger, like a saddlers awl can. Still better than hand punching/poking, especially at high spi. That example is 7-8 spi i think, I have done 12 spi once. Not gonna again.

The real issue in thius case is the canvas, and coming back through from the backside, harness needles are hard to push through the canvas, and tend to get pushed sideways by the canvas threads, and miss the holes in the leather, and glovers needles are easy to push through the canvas but also the wrong spot of the leather....You also can damage the thread alot more with a glovers needle

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A production saddler will be able to saddle stitch at a good 40 inches of stitching an hour, well enough to use contrast thread at 8 stitches an inch. There's nothing in the video that looks anything like that speed. I second the earlier challenge, show timed stitching of production quality or we the saddle stitches will say ba humbug, in the friendliest possible way of course..

Charlie

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There's also the consideration of which stitch is ultimately better for the project. The lockstitch provided by the awl is ok, but in the end is not as strong a stitch as what you get with a proper two-needle saddle stitch. If you just need to tack something down, it does just fine. If it's a stress point and may get some surface friction that may wear through the threads, you want the saddle stitch.

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@Ahni,

Dont care what you stitch with, the stuff on your sites is awesome,,,,,

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Saddle stitch vs. Lockstitch:

This debate is one I have seen loop between enthusiasts.

We can both agree that the strong thread used is key. And that thread tension is immensely important to take note of for both.

At the end of the day, if the thread breaks- your product will need to be repaired. Abrasion and stress that breaks your thread will be bad for both. We are measuring the damage control after the seam has been compromised.

I would love to see a side-by-side test of each stitch to settle the question definitively.

With both kinds of hand-stitching, whichever you love, you love. I have invested 10,000 hours in lockstitching, and learned the importance of thread tension in that time. But if a better kind of stitch can be proven, I would adapt despite the invested time in a previous favorite stitch.

@TinkerTailor- great idea, thank you for pointing out the efficiency of pre-made holes using a machine to set perfect distance with ease.

@KulaFarmer, Thank you :)

@TheCyberWolfe and Charlie, glad to see your input. Your experience is valuable.

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One of the big advantages of the saddle stitch is that you can cast the thread, effectively twisting the threads around each other inside the hole. This adds a great deal of resistance to unravelling when the stitch catches on something or wears away. Ever seen a pair of work boots that look like the stitches are just dots, and they still are together?

Another tip you would like, and can not be done with a lock stitch:

If you use 2 different colours of thread for a saddle stitch, the stitches will alternate colours on both sides.....

I do like your stuff and have shown it to people. I also respect you for makin it work..,

However, saddle stitch is better....... :P:trumpet:

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Thank you for demonstrating a clever way of using this tool. Nice work.

Welcome to the forum.

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