newmexican66

How do you like to saddle stitch gussets, pre-punch holes or mark them and punch them when the pieces are joined?

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I'm newer to making "3d" projects such as bags and purses.  One thing that has been of constant frustration to me is the techniques people like to use to design and sew their gussets together.  I can't find many good videos and have searched hi and low.  I understand how the concept works, but the trouble I find is that many videos offer a pattern in which the holes are premarked.  At this point I am quite capable of copying a pattern, but for my own knowledge I would like to know how people like to sew gussets when they are not following a pre-designed patterned so I can create my own designs.
 

Do you like to pre-punch your holes in both the gusset and the body?  Mark the points where the hole should go, either with a wheel or an iron, attach the gusset to the body, and then stitch both pieces, punch the holes in one piece to use as a guide/lessen the thickness the awl must travel through, attach the pieces, and then finish off with an awl?

Also, if anyone has any good resources, books, videos, posts, on the subject that they could link me to I would greatly appreciate it.

Edit: Also, I find a lot of tutorials are sorely lacking on the design phase and get the gusset to the proper length seems challenging, so if there's any insights to that anyone could offer, I would appreciate that as well.

Edited by newmexican66
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I hate punched holes.  Mark the OUTSIDE piece (usually with a wheel), assemble, hold temporarily with needles, tacks, or thread pieces, and sew with an awl, removing the temp holders as you go.

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11 minutes ago, JLSleather said:

I hate punched holes.  Mark the OUTSIDE piece (usually with a wheel), assemble, hold temporarily with needles, tacks, or thread pieces, and sew with an awl, removing the temp holders as you go.

Thank you for taking the time to share your preferred method with me.  Can I ask why you dislike pre-punched holes?  Not to challenge you, but I find I learn more if I understand the reasons for someone's likes and dislikes.  

Also, still very much interested in hearing from people who agree, disagree, or use methods I may not be aware off.

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Ok, good questions. I do a mix of both. Sometimes I mark my stitches with pricking irons and then use an awl to make the holes. Sometimes I use diamond chisels for chunkier builds and punch all the way through. Usually, I only punch holes on both pieces of leather when it's a basic stitch line that's easy to line up. Most other times, I mark one piece of leather and stick the other piece(s) to it then make the hole with an awl. 

There are ways to mark and punch holes so they line up nice. It really makes stitching easy. I'm going to recommend you look into Nigel armitage Vimeo video series. It is a paid subscription and I know there are those that are against that type of thing, but the information he provides is invaluable. He will also show you the pre punch technique and has a video doing that with a gusset. I believe it's about $4 a month. Not expensive at all. 

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1 minute ago, Stetson912 said:

Ok, good questions. I do a mix of both. Sometimes I mark my stitches with pricking irons and then use an awl to make the holes. Sometimes I use diamond chisels for chunkier builds and punch all the way through. Usually, I only punch holes on both pieces of leather when it's a basic stitch line that's easy to line up. Most other times, I mark one piece of leather and stick the other piece(s) to it then make the hole with an awl. 

There are ways to mark and punch holes so they line up nice. It really makes stitching easy. I'm going to recommend you look into Nigel armitage Vimeo video series. It is a paid subscription and I know there are those that are against that type of thing, but the information he provides is invaluable. He will also show you the pre punch technique and has a video doing that with a gusset. I believe it's about $4 a month. Not expensive at all. 

Oh cool, thanks, I appreciate the advice and suggestion.  Yeah, I have no problem paying 4 bucks to view content as Mr. Armitage has already been very generous with his information.  I've been recently looking into stitching irons as I've pretty much either used a cheap overstitch wheel or a chisel.  The wheel I have doesn't leave slanted lines, just points, do you find that the slanted markings that come from the irons help you to keep the proper angel with your awl?  I have my awls sharpened to a point and do admit that I have difficulty making consistent marks in conjunction with the overstitch wheel.  

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I think stitching is somewhat relative. One person may not like a technique or method of stitching that others do. Some like round holes for flatter stitches or using a stitch groove to achieve that same look. 

And others (like me) like the more angled stitch look and use techniques and methods accordingly. I also don't like a groover at all. I never use mine anymore.

That's not to say one way is better than the other. They both do the same job, stick pieces of leather together with thread. It's just the journey getting there that is different. Some like the groove to recess stitching, and there are times that it may be necessary, but for what I do, and the amount of tension I tend to apply, the thread is recessed enough without a groove, so I don't find it necessary for ME to use one. And the straight vs angle is all just asthetics if you ask me

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1 minute ago, newmexican66 said:

Oh cool, thanks, I appreciate the advice and suggestion.  Yeah, I have no problem paying 4 bucks to view content as Mr. Armitage has already been very generous with his information.  I've been recently looking into stitching irons as I've pretty much either used a cheap overstitch wheel or a chisel.  The wheel I have doesn't leave slanted lines, just points, do you find that the slanted markings that come from the irons help you to keep the proper angel with your awl?  I have my awls sharpened to a point and do admit that I have difficulty making consistent marks in conjunction with the overstitch wheel.  

Very much so. Personally I never could keep a good truly consistent angle with just an awl and wheel. I wasn't terrible but not good enough. So my "crutch" should we say is using pricking irons. It's very easy to follow the angle with the awl. I use diamond chisels as pricking irons sometimes in the same way. All depends on what I'm working on. My chisels are probably 5/6 spi and my irons are 8 I think, so I use the chisels on large beefy items like holsters and sheaths and the irons on smaller things like small notebooks or wallets

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10 minutes ago, Stetson912 said:

I think stitching is somewhat relative. One person may not like a technique or method of stitching that others do. Some like round holes for flatter stitches or using a stitch groove to achieve that same look. 

And others (like me) like the more angled stitch look and use techniques and methods accordingly. I also don't like a groover at all. I never use mine anymore.

That's not to say one way is better than the other. They both do the same job, stick pieces of leather together with thread. It's just the journey getting there that is different. Some like the groove to recess stitching, and there are times that it may be necessary, but for what I do, and the amount of tension I tend to apply, the thread is recessed enough without a groove, so I don't find it necessary for ME to use one. And the straight vs angle is all just asthetics if you ask me

I agree as I suppose the only "right" answer is whether or not your piece looks like you want it to and serves its purpose well.  However, being newer I am interested in all the different routes people take to arrive at the same destination, especially the "whys" in regards to their preferred techniques as it allows me to retain and discard information as they suite my purposes, sometimes combining two thoughts from different schools.

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No trouble.  Main thing I don't care for is the way those "chisels" or "irons" pull out of the leather... pulling the leather on teh way. With quite thin leather, the effect is minimal, but it gets worse as the leather gets thicker.  I get marking the hole locations with your chisel if that's how you prefer to do it.  But I dont punch them. Either you punch a HOLE (material is removed) or you punch a slit (material is cut only but not removed) which is better than a hole, but still distorting the work.

Having said that, I've seen some work where they guy doing it had become quite proficient with one or more "chisels", and made it look nice.  Just seems like a waste of energy to me.

BUT, I'm the one who doesn't care for that angled / slanted stitch.  Perhaps that floats better in great Britain, along with that accent.  No problem with the next guy doing it, no intention of trying to sway anybody one way or the other, but I personally like an awl no bigger than needed to get the job done (usually they're tapered, so just push it in far enough to come out the back side).  I even buy machine needles that take that angled look out of it -- very straight lines.

I saw a little fella about 5 foot tall roofing a house with a hatchet to drive nails -- and he was doing it as well and as quickly as I've ever seen it done.  Wouldn't have been my choice, but he was so comfortable using it was like automatic for him. :dunno:

 

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8 minutes ago, Stetson912 said:

Very much so. Personally I never could keep a good truly consistent angle with just an awl and wheel. I wasn't terrible but not good enough. So my "crutch" should we say is using pricking irons. It's very easy to follow the angle with the awl. I use diamond chisels as pricking irons sometimes in the same way. All depends on what I'm working on. My chisels are probably 5/6 spi and my irons are 8 I think, so I use the chisels on large beefy items like holsters and sheaths and the irons on smaller things like small notebooks or wallets

That's good to hear, I'll look into a set.  Yes, I'm not terrible, but the drawback to the beauty of a nicely angled saddlestitch is that, in my experience at least, it is unforgiving to even slight variations.  On your "beefier" items, when you use the chisels, do you intentionally go through multiple layers of leather before they reach a limit and then finish with an awl, or do you us them as if they were irons and just mark the holes to be made by and awl?  I have been playing around with the thought of using my chisels as irons until I get a set of proper irons and while I intend to do my own research I'm curious to your experience.  Do you think that a chisel could serve as a pricking iron on smaller items or is that when the finer marks or the irons are necessary?    

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3 minutes ago, JLSleather said:

No trouble.  Main thing I don't care for is the way those "chisels" or "irons" pull out of the leather... pulling the leather on teh way. With quite thin leather, the effect is minimal, but it gets worse as the leather gets thicker.  I get marking the hole locations with your chisel if that's how you prefer to do it.  But I dont punch them. Either you punch a HOLE (material is removed) or you punch a slit (material is cut only but not removed) which is better than a hole, but still distorting the work.

Having said that, I've seen some work where they guy doing it had become quite proficient with one or more "chisels", and made it look nice.  Just seems like a waste of energy to me.

BUT, I'm the one who doesn't care for that angled / slanted stitch.  Perhaps that floats better in great Britain, along with that accent.  No problem with the next guy doing it, no intention of trying to sway anybody one way or the other, but I personally like an awl no bigger than needed to get the job done (usually they're tapered, so just push it in far enough to come out the back side).  I even buy machine needles that take that angled look out of it -- very straight lines.

I saw a little fella about 5 foot tall roofing a house with a hatchet to drive nails -- and he was doing it as well and as quickly as I've ever seen it done.  Wouldn't have been my choice, but he was so comfortable using it was like automatic for him. :dunno:

 

Interesting!  Do you still use a diamond awl, just flat instead of the typical 45 degree angle?  Also, in regards to your first post, you say you have the outside piece marked, typically with a wheel, and that instead of glue you hold with needles, thread, tacks, etc.  Would you just push a needle/tack through the pieces or tie them together every couple of marks?

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Well, I didn't mean to imply that I use tacks 'n' such IN LIEU of glue, more often thats IN ADDITION TO glue (or sometimes rubber cement). When I think gussets, Im thinking large notebooks, handbags, etc.. which I normally would glue first, then apply tacks/nails/brads, etc... as I stick the glue down. Rubber cement means more holders more often.

As for the awl, keep the the flat side in line with the direction of the stitch..  Lemme see kin I do a quick graphic...

Untitled-1.jpg There ya go.  Same trapezoid (or is that a rhombus, I fergit), awl holes.  arrow is direction of sewing.  Clearly the top line is going to weaken the leather more  (any time you're cutting or punching, you're weakening) and be more susceptible to teh stitching pulling through - esp with sharp bends and high stress.  The bottom is made with the same tool, but the pressure is not in line with the stitch pull (better for now and later).  These can be done with or without a groove.

 

 

Edited by JLSleather

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I have successfully done both ways, prepunched and not.  In either case care must be taken so that everything lines up right.  I find the little bulldog clips work well to hold the gussets prior to stitching but be careful they don't mark the leather.  If it is a turned bag, probably no big deal.  I did pre-punch my son's briefcase and was very happy with the results.

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I like pre-punched and/or I like using Glover’s needles to cut the hole by themselves. I use clips to hold things together, usually no glue.

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2 hours ago, JLSleather said:


Well, I didn't mean to imply that I use tacks 'n' such IN LIEU of glue, more often thats IN ADDITION TO glue (or sometimes rubber cement). When I think gussets, Im thinking large notebooks, handbags, etc.. which I normally would glue first, then apply tacks/nails/brads, etc... as I stick the glue down. Rubber cement means more holders more often.

As for the awl, keep the the flat side in line with the direction of the stitch..  Lemme see kin I do a quick graphic...

Untitled-1.jpg There ya go.  Same trapezoid (or is that a rhombus, I fergit), awl holes.  arrow is direction of sewing.  Clearly the top line is going to weaken the leather more  (any time you're cutting or punching, you're weakening) and be more susceptible to teh stitching pulling through - esp with sharp bends and high stress.  The bottom is made with the same tool, but the pressure is not in line with the stitch pull (better for now and later).  These can be done with or without a groove.

 

 

Great stuff, thanks again!

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1 hour ago, Tugadude said:

I have successfully done both ways, prepunched and not.  In either case care must be taken so that everything lines up right.  I find the little bulldog clips work well to hold the gussets prior to stitching but be careful they don't mark the leather.  If it is a turned bag, probably no big deal.  I did pre-punch my son's briefcase and was very happy with the results.

Any special way you like to make sure the holes on the gusset match up with the bag/measure your gusset when pre-punching?  I mean, I imagine you use the same size holes/distance between said holes, of course, but as far as making sure everything is peachy between all the pieces when you put it together?

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23 minutes ago, newmexican66 said:

make sure the holes on the gusset match up with the bag/measure your gusset when pre-punching

ANd there's the thing right there.  If it's flat, yer good, no worries.  Change directions, turn a corner, make a bend.... now yer spacing changes.  Gotta keep in mind that 'inside radius' thing .. ;)

 

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6 hours ago, newmexican66 said:

That's good to hear, I'll look into a set.  Yes, I'm not terrible, but the drawback to the beauty of a nicely angled saddlestitch is that, in my experience at least, it is unforgiving to even slight variations.  On your "beefier" items, when you use the chisels, do you intentionally go through multiple layers of leather before they reach a limit and then finish with an awl, or do you us them as if they were irons and just mark the holes to be made by and awl?  I have been playing around with the thought of using my chisels as irons until I get a set of proper irons and while I intend to do my own research I'm curious to your experience.  Do you think that a chisel could serve as a pricking iron on smaller items or is that when the finer marks or the irons are necessary?    

Well it's all situational for me. For example, the fold over holster I made for my nephew for a cap gun, I marked out the holes  on each side and punched through all the way down one side then the next. They lined up and I stitched them together no problem.

But, a pancake I made I would mark the stitch lines and then partially punch with the chisels. The. Finish with the awl. Why? The pancake is 2 layers of 8 oz. While you could go through it with the chisel the size of the holes would be huge. And if you aren't completely vertical you'll get a wonky set of holes. The fold over was a single layer of leather. Pretty easy to sail a chisel through. And by being carful on my pattern and accurately marking the holes, it all worked out. 

You can use the chisels like a pricking iron. I do all the time. Thicker items like holsters etc don't need stitched at a high spi. Really 7spi is plenty and a lot of people fo less. This is somewhat preference. But the item is a lot thicker which lends itself to this. 

However, an item like a fine bag or wallet would benefit from finer stitching. So a higher spi chisel or iron should be used. You could use a chisel on these items if it's fine enough, but usually they are really chunky and the hole would be too large. I tend to use irons more for this. 

 

That said, crimson hide makes a great stitching chisel. Highly polished and the teeth taper unlike a lot of chisels that have teeth of uniform thickness. If you want a good chisel I'd recommend them. 

As for pricking irons, there are a lot of good ones. It depends on how much you want to spend. I like the ks blade punch irons. High end you have doldoki and Blanchard. Wuta makes a decent iron and I think Amy roke makes some but I'm unaware if they are available. There is also lekoza (I think that's what they are called) that seem affordable. And makers leather supply has a set they offer in after sizes also. 

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18 hours ago, newmexican66 said:

I'm newer to making "3d" projects such as bags and purses.  One thing that has been of constant frustration to me is the techniques people like to use to design and sew their gussets together.  I can't find many good videos and have searched hi and low.  I understand how the concept works, but the trouble I find is that many videos offer a pattern in which the holes are premarked.  At this point I am quite capable of copying a pattern, but for my own knowledge I would like to know how people like to sew gussets when they are not following a pre-designed patterned so I can create my own designs.
 

Do you like to pre-punch your holes in both the gusset and the body?  Mark the points where the hole should go, either with a wheel or an iron, attach the gusset to the body, and then stitch both pieces, punch the holes in one piece to use as a guide/lessen the thickness the awl must travel through, attach the pieces, and then finish off with an awl?

Also, if anyone has any good resources, books, videos, posts, on the subject that they could link me to I would greatly appreciate it.

Edit: Also, I find a lot of tutorials are sorely lacking on the design phase and get the gusset to the proper length seems challenging, so if there's any insights to that anyone could offer, I would appreciate that as well.

I rarely make the same thing twice.  And even when I do, there are usually minor changes from the previous version, so I'm always in prototyping mode.   When it comes to gussets, I cheat and just make the gusset a bit longer than needed and trim off the excess!  Works every time (it's not really cheating if it works, right?) .  But yeah, gussets are one item where going from concept/paper to leather is a bit weird.

I have pre-punched, and it works fine but it is tedious to me.  You need to count an equal number of holes in panel and gusset so that they match and I work with far too many numbers in my day job to unnecessarily do 'em in my off-time!   I tend to most often do it they way that @JLSleather mentioned, mark the panel, tack the gusset in place and to at it.   But as I said, I leave the gusset a little long to be sure it comes out at exactly the right length.  If I were making the same item repeatedly, I'd zero in on the exact gusset length and just use that, but I don't roll that way.

You are right, resources that carry you from design through completed item are scarce to none.  There are design books (mostly akin to idea sketchbooks from what I have seen), and there are technique books, with very little that covers the in-between part.  That's probably not a bad thing, since that in-between part is where creativity comes in.  With that said, Arthur Porter on Youtube has some videos series that take you from design to completed item - Mostly fashion bags and accessories using garment leathers.  Nigel Armitage has a Youtube video in which he constructs a messenger bag, and explains many of his design decisions - worth a watch.  

For print resources, if you poke around on Amazon and search "Handbag Design" you'll find a number of books, but I have not personally perused any of those to recommend one or another.  For construction technique, I always recommend The Art of Making Leather Cases Series by Al Stohlman: There are 3 books in the series and all excellent.  The specific projetcts in them are mostly outdated (Are you old enough to remember instamatic cameras with flash cubes?) but the techniques are just as sound today as ever.

- Bill 

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I had no issues going around corners.  The holes are the same distance apart.  Gussets are not the same as round box stitching where there would be a difference in spacing between the side and end cap.  I began with the gusset flush on one end and left it a tad long to be cut later.  Worked perfectly.  This was a mailbag style turned bag.

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