GregS

Hand sewing long runs

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I'm pretty new and have been making plenty of smaller projects.  Of course I'm hand sewing everything at this point.  I always measure out my thread about 4 or 4.5 times the length of the area I'll be stitching.

But I'm currently working on a portfolio thing that holds a note pad.  If I measure out 4 times the length of thread, I'll be sewing with about 8 feet of thread.

I was just looking at a large backpack that someone hand sewed and it got me thinking about even longer stitching runs.

How do you guys deal with hand sewing longer runs of stitches?  Do you just keep a close eye on your thread so it doesn't tangle?  Do you split the long runs into multiple runs?  If so, what's the best way to hide the change over to a new thread?

Thanks in advance.

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Use multiple lengths of thread.  Consider carefully where to stop and start so ends are less noticeable.  When one run ends, leave a few inches of thread with the needles still attached, skip one hole, start your next length of thread.  After a few stitches, go back to your original run and finish the skipped hole.  Cast your thread at least once, and twice if your leather is thick.  Trim with a knife as close to the leather as you can, and push the end back into the hole. Done right, it will be difficult if not impossible to find where threads start or stop.

Some like to pull the thread to the inside of the leather, between the pieces.  This can create a bulge, but depending on the item you are making, may make no difference.

Hope this helps,

YinTx

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I do my hand sewing with about 12 feet of thread.  Any more becomes unmanageable.  Like Yin said, calculate where to start, stop, splice and you'll have a nice project.  No need to worry about "leftover" ends.  They will come in hand for smaller runs or basting.  The surest way to waste thread is to try to measure it exactly.  Besides, thicker leather takes more thread, so there is no exact answer.  Gotta practice.

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3 hours ago, SaddleBags said:

I do my hand sewing with about 12 feet of thread.  Any more becomes unmanageable.  Like Yin said, calculate where to start, stop, splice and you'll have a nice project.  No need to worry about "leftover" ends.  They will come in hand for smaller runs or basting.  The surest way to waste thread is to try to measure it exactly.  Besides, thicker leather takes more thread, so there is no exact answer.  Gotta practice.

Any tips on how you handle 12 feet? The most I've done is 8 and it was a real pain. I put chairs on either side of me and put the thread over the chair backs so that they were out of the way while I pull and what not.

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Most I'll consider doing is two full arm spans.  Usually the thread is not looking very good if I do that either.  So one full arm span is about my limit.  Keeps the thread from fraying, from tangling, from breaking, from getting dirty, etc.  And yes to the practice.  And for sure, when you try to get it just right, you will end up too short by two holes so plan a bit extra.  Better to lose a little thread to waste than a lot.

YinTx

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18 hours ago, YinTx said:

Cast your thread at least once, and twice if your leather is thick.

I get what you are saying except for this part.  I'm not sure what it means to cast your thread.

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I tend to prefer doing long runs in a single go when I can, particularly with darker thread (light colors just get too dirty on long runs).  You just have to be careful about tangling and keep an eye out for any knots that do accidentally form and take care of them before trying to pass them through the leather where they will just tighten.

- Bill

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1 hour ago, GregS said:

I get what you are saying except for this part.  I'm not sure what it means to cast your thread.

Here goes:

When you pass the needle from the front to the back, just as the needle emerges from the leather on the back "cast" the loop on the back over the needle.  When you pull the stitch tight the thread will form a knot in the middle of the leather.  With thicker leather you might cast the loop over the needle twice(or even three times for really thick jobs).

Does that make sense?

The knots mean that the thread gets locked into place and fills the hole better, if a thread gets cut you only lose one stitch and you end up with a neat angled appearance on the front side of the workpiece.

I'm a fan of only using as much thread as I can handle easily.  Got better things to do than untangle thread.

When you come to the end of the thread, leave about an inch of thread when you cut off.  Start your next thread one hole back from the last stitch, hold the loose ends of the last thread up and out of the way and continue stitching.  When you have finished sewing just go back and trim the ends off with a scalpel.

Cheers!

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1 hour ago, penguineer said:

Does that make sense?

Yep, I think I get it.  It's just the looping of the thread over the needle to form a "knot"

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10 hours ago, GregS said:

Yep, I think I get it.  It's just the looping of the thread over the needle to form a "knot"

That's it.  I can do it in my sleep(probably do it better that way) but it's hard to put it into words.

Cheers!

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There's a trick I saw in a Weaver Leathercraft video that might be helpful. Chuck Dorset does a thing where he passes about half of the thread through each of the needles, which reduces the distance by half. Take a look at his video here and jump to around 15:20 to see it done:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEsSbYBLxD4

 

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On 4/20/2019 at 1:28 AM, TargetRockLeather said:

There's a trick I saw in a Weaver Leathercraft video that might be helpful. Chuck Dorset does a thing where he passes about half of the thread through each of the needles, which reduces the distance by half. Take a look at his video here and jump to around 15:20 to see it done:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEsSbYBLxD4

 

Cool, I'll check it out.  I like the Weaver Leathercraft videos.  They make it all simple.

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On 4/18/2019 at 8:33 PM, YinTx said:

Most I'll consider doing is two full arm spans.  Usually the thread is not looking very good if I do that either.  So one full arm span is about my limit.  Keeps the thread from fraying, from tangling, from breaking, from getting dirty, etc.  And yes to the practice.  And for sure, when you try to get it just right, you will end up too short by two holes so plan a bit extra.  Better to lose a little thread to waste than a lot.

YinTx

I totally agree with this.  Always better to waste a foot of thread than to have the potential of starting/stopping in an obvious location.  It doesn't bother some people, but it drives me nuts.  The thread getting dirty is a real issue if it is a light color.  Obviously not a concern with black.  I like YinTx's approach in the earlier post about starting a new piece and then going back and finishing the original run.  I have done that and it works just as described.

I read an article by a saddler once that precut all threads to around 30" or 36" I believe.  For myself that doesn't work.  I prefer as few start/stop points as possible.

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On ‎4‎/‎19‎/‎2019 at 12:34 AM, YinTx said:

When one run ends, leave a few inches of thread with the needles still attached, skip one hole, start your next length of thread.

Is this a better option than finishing at a suitable point, then restarting back 1 or 2 holes to oversew the last couple stitches? Either way, you end up with double stitches for a stitch or 2.

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@Rockoboy, if you look at hand stitched belts, you will see there are not that many double stitches, only where intended, so don't double up unless you need it or intend to.  And whenever possible, yes, end at a suitable point.

YinTx

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5 hours ago, Rockoboy said:

Is this a better option than finishing at a suitable point, then restarting back 1 or 2 holes to oversew the last couple stitches? Either way, you end up with double stitches for a stitch or 2.

 

4 hours ago, YinTx said:

@Rockoboy, if you look at hand stitched belts, you will see there are not that many double stitches, only where intended, so don't double up unless you need it or intend to.  And whenever possible, yes, end at a suitable point.

YinTx

If you don't want to oversew, just start the new thread in the same hole you have just finished in.  So you finish in one hole, you've formed a knot and then run a new thread through the same hole - the three threads in the same hole should lock everything in place.  May take a little fiddling with tension(or a bit of fiddling/hammering afterwards) to make sure it's even and looking like one long uninterrupted run, it's not something I've done often, but no issues with doing it that way.

I like oversewing a stitch or two, but that's me - if you tighten things up just right you end up with the last stitches of the "old thread" buried under the "new thread" so it looks like one long uninterrupted run.  And on some some jobs the look(ie a double stitch here or there) is less important, although it does make things look more professional.

Try it out and see what works and looks best for you.

Remember that hammering or running an overstitch wheel or bone folder over the stitching afterwards evens things out a lot.

Cheers!

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31 minutes ago, penguineer said:

So you finish in one hole, you've formed a knot and then run a new thread through the same hole - the three threads in the same hole should lock everything in place. 

this, but I usually start the new thread in the next hole (ie skip a hole), stitch a few inches, then go back and put the last stitch in the skipped hole using the previous thread.  This keeps me from dislodging the knot, which could happen if you form the knot, then run a needle and thread through the hole with the newly formed knot.  just what works for me, your mileage may vary of course.

YinTx

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