Jump to content
ThatTallChick

Hand Sewn Satchel: First Project, I'd love some feedback!

Recommended Posts

This is my first ever project and I know I did SO much wrong; I would love to hear you guys' advice before starting my next project.
 
I'm winging this whole thing and so far I've learned:
  1. Leather is not dry just because it looks dry. Wait the full 8 hours for water to dry before dying
  2. Dying over water leaves terrible water marks and dis-colours the dye (as seen on the bends in the flap and the paw print stamp)
  3. Buckles should be sewn on before assembly(?) reaching into the bag to find the holes for the needle when putting the buckle on was a bit of an issue!
  4. I'm not sure what I did to mess up the bottom right hand corner so badly but I am assuming there was a mistaken measurement somewhere. I left it, just because this was a first time practice piece for learning. 
  5. Perhaps two separate burnished edges being pinched together isn't quite as nice as burnishing them together to look more like one edge.
 
Questions brought up from this project: 
  1. Should I make the needle holes before dying? I didn't, assuming the Resolene would fill them in if I did.
  2. Should I make grooves for the squares that hold the strap and buckle on? If so, is there a "groover" that is adjustable to be that wide, or how would I go about doing that?
  3. How should I go about "hammering" the thread down on the sides once it's complete? I just filled the bag with 2x4s and did my best.
  4. Edge burnishing: what even? I wet the edges with water and used a wooden edge slicker on it but I found I could only get the edge so smooth like that before it started... peeling? Fraying? I've used beeswax in the past (on scrap pieces) and liked that result but had heard water was supposed to work just as well. Thoughts?
  5. How tight is too tight when pulling each thread taught? 
  6. Is pinching the edges together to make a corner no good? I notice there's some puckering(?) on each edge where the leather has to fold a bit to attach to its counterpart. Maybe I should have wet the edges and pinched them into that form instead of allowing them to become that form while I sewed. 
  7. What sort of needles should I be using for this? I used glovers needles which worked okay but I thought leatherworking needles were supposed to be blunt-- I found I kept accidentally stabbing through the leather instead of going through the holes I had made for the needle to go through.
  8. How do I make the burnished edges not... un-straight? It's most noticeable on the strap, it's just wiggles everywhere. Does this just come with practice? The strap was straight when I started.
     
 
Sorry for my lack of knowledge, especially in the terminology sector. Please feel free to eat me alive; honestly I'm loving reading through the forums and learning things. I've watched a few videos here and there but ultimately learn more from doing so I look forward to your suggestions!

large.IMG_20210322_104123.jpg.3f776eab51fb58828a05a926aa3ba214.jpglarge.IMG_20210322_104128.jpg.8181b836bb879637d86833b593794d5c.jpglarge.IMG_20210322_104113.jpg.0b2e999d2209042b594b348e9198141f.jpglarge.IMG_20210322_104141.jpg.dc2e9b7d9a89f2f47457c6c5785b2e24.jpg

Edited by ThatTallChick
Added some clarification, and missing words, added a question or two

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Talk about an ambitious first project!  Actually, many here would be proud to say that was their first.  Most probably practice on small stuff first to get the basic techniques down.  I admire your decision to just go for it!

 

Dying is something that takes time to master.  Sure, there are some basic things you need to do, but it is a learned skill like anything else.  And there's always options, for example you could dip-dye smaller pieces.  I usually dye a large piece first and then cut the sections out of it, but you don't have to do it that way.  You could do them individually and that might help to keep things more consistent.  Experience will tell you.

Your stitching is way better than most people's first attempts in my opinion.  So good job on that.  As far as tapping it down, on something like this I wouldn't bother.  

Edges and burnishing is something that again will take some time to work out.  Everyone has their own personal method.  I think there are some "sticky" topics in the "how to" section dealing with edging and burnishing techniques.  You will also find the topic discussed all over the forum in other threads.

Some cut and then sand then burnish, some don't sand much at all.  Everyone is different.  Some use plain water to burnish, some saddle soap, some gum tragacanth and still others Tokonole.  Gum Trag and Tokonole aren't too expensive, so maybe try them both.  They should help to get rid of the "hairy" look on some of the edges.  What I'd do now is use beeswax on the edges and burnish again.

Did you use an edger on the leather before burnishing?  That might also help you.

You asked about pulling the thread.  It depends sometimes on the leather.  On some leather you can pull very tight and not deform it while on softer leathers if you snug it up too much it distorts the leather.  Just pull firmly and stop if it seems to be causing the leather to go out of shape.  That's the best I can do with a description.

Keep up the good work!  Maybe do some small stuff to keep sharpening your skills and then attack another bag.  I'll bet it is even better the next time!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

harness needles are the needles you want. I usually punch holes after I dye the leather, to avoid a darker area where the dye penetrates deeper at the holes.  that's a great job for a first project.

Edited by buzzardbait

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow I think it has a great distressed look. I know thats not what you were going for , it it looks great as it is.Take a lighter and burn the hair off the edges then give a quik burnish with water or something of your choice. But hey all in all I like it. Great first project.

Edited by Bert03241
spell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, what you did isn't a simple project and you did it pretty ok, especially for a first project! Congrats. As Tuga mentioned, your stitching look really good compared to a lot of folks' first attempts. While you have some hiccups here and there you executed pretty well.

If you want to feel like an infant in the world of what you just made, I recommend a youtube video by Nigel Armitage on box stitching...he's a master and his work will make you want to cry but it'll help you see what you want to do next time. Just plop that into your search in YT and enjoy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, ThatTallChick said:
  • How should I go about "hammering" the thread down on the sides once it's complete? I just filled the bag with 2x4s and did my best.
  • What sort of needles should I be using for this? I used glovers needles which worked okay but I thought leatherworking needles were supposed to be blunt-- I found I kept accidentally stabbing through the leather instead of going through the holes I had made for the needle to go through.

Use an anvil and a cobbler's hammer. But do choose a curved, smooth edge of the anvil, because a sharp edge can cut into the leather and ruin your project.

https://www.lonsdaleleather.com/tools/leather-anvil-tool

https://www.lonsdaleleather.com/tools/cs-osborne-shoemaker-hammer

You can use their fitter's hammer too.

 

Ouch: glover's needles. Don't use those: worse than stabbing the leather is stabbing your finger, and it will inevitably happen. Even blunt needles can give you a nasty stab; so I'm wondering that glovers may even go all the way to the bone, depending on the force you're using.

Saddler's needles (blunt): https://www.lonsdaleleather.com/tools/cs-osborne-harness-needles-5-pack

Use #2 for thread that is > 0.8 mm and spi that is >6, and #4 for thread that is < 0.8 mm and spi < 7.

Edited by Hardrada

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is an incredible first project. And a great job for your first. I actually like the way the paw print is "highlighted". I won't add anymore to what the others have said, except keep it up, you are doing fine. You will learn and improve each time you do another project.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, tsunkasapa said:

That is an incredible first project. And a great job for your first. I actually like the way the paw print is "highlighted". I won't add anymore to what the others have said, except keep it up, you are doing fine. You will learn and improve each time you do another project.

Thank you! Yes I think I'll start doing smaller projects- wallets maybe. I really want to work on my edges! I think that the big box wasn't a terrible thing to start with, I certainly got a lot of practice stitching and I learned what I really really lack haha.

15 hours ago, Hardrada said:

Use an anvil and a cobbler's hammer. But do choose a curved, smooth edge of the anvil, because a sharp edge can cut into the leather and ruin your project.

https://www.lonsdaleleather.com/tools/leather-anvil-tool

https://www.lonsdaleleather.com/tools/cs-osborne-shoemaker-hammer

You can use their fitter's hammer too.

 

Ouch: glover's needles. Don't use those: worse than stabbing the leather is stabbing your finger, and it will inevitably happen. Even blunt needles can give you a nasty stab; so I'm wondering that glovers may even go all the way to the bone, depending on the force you're using.

Saddler's needles (blunt): https://www.lonsdaleleather.com/tools/cs-osborne-harness-needles-5-pack

Use #2 for thread that is > 0.8 mm and spi that is >6, and #4 for thread that is < 0.8 mm and spi < 7.

Yeah I bled a LOT during this project. Each time the needle went in my finger I'd have to stop sewing for a bit to stop the bleeding. You wouldn't think you could bleed so much from such a tiny little hole and I'm sure a forensic analysis of this bag would raise some flags at the bureau. Thanks so much for sending the blunt ones my way, I just purchased some. I ended up with the glovers needles initially because I had purchased a selection of needles and, while playing with scrap leather, found that the needle that had the flat/triangular point was my favorite to work with-- but it was also dull like the saddler's needle. I have no idea what it was, I wasn't able to find it anywhere but I got it from amazon so it could very well have just been a really crappy glovers needle.

I will also definitely pick up an anvil and hammer! My spouse does blacksmithing so our shops are about to look very similar (with a little less fire in mine I suppose)

16 hours ago, battlemunky said:

Yeah, what you did isn't a simple project and you did it pretty ok, especially for a first project! Congrats. As Tuga mentioned, your stitching look really good compared to a lot of folks' first attempts. While you have some hiccups here and there you executed pretty well.

If you want to feel like an infant in the world of what you just made, I recommend a youtube video by Nigel Armitage on box stitching...he's a master and his work will make you want to cry but it'll help you see what you want to do next time. Just plop that into your search in YT and enjoy.

Thank you! I started stitching along the back bottom... and you guys can't see those stitches in the photos ;) haha I had a lot of issues with the stitching with the glovers needles too so hopefully when my saddler's needles come in I can practice on some wallets and small hand bags.

Also, thank you for sending me to these videos, this guy is GREAT at explaining things. So far I've just watched video's of people working with the actual leather so I find it's a lot of guess work because you can't see everything you need to see in the videos but this guy is drawing these huge, blown up, simple, drawings and explaining why he is and isn't doing things and what is better but more difficult. He is going into my watch list for sure!

16 hours ago, Bert03241 said:

Wow I think it has a great distressed look. I know thats not what you were going for , it it looks great as it is.Take a lighter and burn the hair off the edges then give a quik burnish with water or something of your choice. But hey all in all I like it. Great first project.

Ahahah you know... it's er, "rustic" or something; Thank you! I had no idea I could burnish after I had finished the project, I thought it was before dying and resolene and if you mucked it up the you're SOL so I will 100% try that, especially burning the hairs off haha it's er... a bit of a mess and I just figured it was a mistake I made in the beginning that I would now have to live with.

16 hours ago, buzzardbait said:

harness needles are the needles you want. I usually punch holes after I dye the leather, to avoid a darker area where the dye penetrates deeper at the holes.  that's a great job for a first project.

Yeah punching the holes after seems to be the general consensus in this thread. I had read that anything removing leather needs to be done before dying but the thread hides the undyed innards of the leather anyway if you do it right I'm sure. Thank you!

17 hours ago, Tugadude said:

Talk about an ambitious first project!  Actually, many here would be proud to say that was their first.  Most probably practice on small stuff first to get the basic techniques down.  I admire your decision to just go for it!

 

Dying is something that takes time to master.  Sure, there are some basic things you need to do, but it is a learned skill like anything else.  And there's always options, for example you could dip-dye smaller pieces.  I usually dye a large piece first and then cut the sections out of it, but you don't have to do it that way.  You could do them individually and that might help to keep things more consistent.  Experience will tell you.

Your stitching is way better than most people's first attempts in my opinion.  So good job on that.  As far as tapping it down, on something like this I wouldn't bother.  

Edges and burnishing is something that again will take some time to work out.  Everyone has their own personal method.  I think there are some "sticky" topics in the "how to" section dealing with edging and burnishing techniques.  You will also find the topic discussed all over the forum in other threads.

Some cut and then sand then burnish, some don't sand much at all.  Everyone is different.  Some use plain water to burnish, some saddle soap, some gum tragacanth and still others Tokonole.  Gum Trag and Tokonole aren't too expensive, so maybe try them both.  They should help to get rid of the "hairy" look on some of the edges.  What I'd do now is use beeswax on the edges and burnish again.

Did you use an edger on the leather before burnishing?  That might also help you.

You asked about pulling the thread.  It depends sometimes on the leather.  On some leather you can pull very tight and not deform it while on softer leathers if you snug it up too much it distorts the leather.  Just pull firmly and stop if it seems to be causing the leather to go out of shape.  That's the best I can do with a description.

Keep up the good work!  Maybe do some small stuff to keep sharpening your skills and then attack another bag.  I'll bet it is even better the next time!

Thank you! I figured I would get some use out of it if it ended up being capable of holding anything, and it would give me (and did give me) a lot of practice hand stitching; now I know a few things I really want to spend time working on (like edges) and will start making wallets for my friends and family to feel obliged to use 

I am really surprised I hadn't come across this dip-dying technique sooner- I definitely have to try this once Tandy has their bigger bottles of dye in. I wanted to dye just the whole chunk of leather I had cut off the hide for this project but these tiny 4.4fl oz bottles of dye I get from Tandy right now don't go far at all... I used a bottle and a halfon this bag alone. I'll definitely have to keep playing with dying techniques and I want to try leather paint at some point too!

Thank you so much! I never know if I'm doing the stitching right. I watched a few videos and just make sure to always pull the right side thread up, and left side thread down... and I spend a lot of time finicking with the the needle trying to get it through the holes. I have needle nose pliers that I use to get a better grip on the needles when they're being particularly stubborn... it all feels probably more "brutish" than it should probably be-- everyone in the videos make it look so easy haha I'll learn I'm sure

I'll definitely look at the sticky topics for burnishing. I really enjoy the motions of burnishing, it's oddly satisfying watching the edges become smooth and shiny.. and then very much not so satisfying when it starts to go from slightly shiny to fraying again.

I think I'll try Tokonole next (though I can't seem to get it from Tandy so Amazon it is I suppose); I have heard good things about it! I also had no idea I could burnish again after dying and applying resolene so I am very excited to get back at this, I thought the bag was just forever "rustic" looking (well I mean the bag still is but maybe the edges can be cleaner).

I did not use an edger before burnishing. I had tried doing so on some scrap pieces and it just seemed to make awful gouges in the leather so it was no longer a seamless transition from the surface of the leather to the edge... maybe I'm using the wrong tools or I'm using them wrong, I'll need to watch some videos.

I think that was a helpful description, thank you! I wasn't sure if I should be pulling tight, or just pulling through with a little tug and then moving down the line. With the bag I often pulled and held it tight until the next hole was done, like tightening shoes if you will, but that was mostly because of how I was connecting the edges together.

Thank you so much. I will definitely start working on some smaller projects; I see many wallets in my future before I tackle another bag!

 

 

 

Thank you so much everyone for your advice feedback, I really appreciate all the time and patience you have all given to me! I have a lot of new things to try on my next project, as well as lot of new videos to watch, and new forum threads to read- but I'll be diving into my first wallet, and am just now waiting on the oil to even out on my first piece before cutting out the wallet pieces and starting the process again. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Springfield Leather Co. now stocks Tokonole and they are a very good supplier.  Check their website out.  Plus, they support the forum, so that is a plus.

https://www.springfieldleather.com/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great job for a first project and quite ambitious i would say. i think you did very well.

if you cleaned up the edges and the little bits of nap i cant see anything major or that needs work.

i like the dyed color and stitching looks good although the thread is a little heavy for my liking.

im sure this bag will last for a long time and develop a nice patina.'\

Keep it up :cheers:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great job! Nice to see someone else from Ontario here 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What an amazing job for a first project. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Tugadude said:

Springfield Leather Co. now stocks Tokonole and they are a very good supplier.  Check their website out.  Plus, they support the forum, so that is a plus.

https://www.springfieldleather.com/

Oh that's pretty awesome! I was looking for something in Canada so that I didn't have to pay duty and the like but the "support[ing] the forum" point is really selling it to be honest.

22 hours ago, CastleLeatherWorks said:

Great job for a first project and quite ambitious i would say. i think you did very well.

if you cleaned up the edges and the little bits of nap i cant see anything major or that needs work.

i like the dyed color and stitching looks good although the thread is a little heavy for my liking.

im sure this bag will last for a long time and develop a nice patina.'\

Keep it up :cheers:

 

Thank you! I've picked up some tokonole and I'll burn off the stray hairs then burnish the edges again and see what happens! 

I recently heard how much a leather piece will change over it's lifetime-- I had no idea! It'll be exciting to see how the bag changes... so far I'm already finding the buckle easier to open and close. 

19 hours ago, kiwican said:

Great job! Nice to see someone else from Ontario here 

Thank you! And hello fellow Ontarian :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

really, such an incredible first project. 
And check out Nigel

https://www.armitageleather.com/

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

image.jpegMy first briefcase. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You did all that stitching by hand?  And here I am complaining about my stitch work on simple and much smaller projects!   Man, that's something I would be proud of, let alone the magnitude of such a project!   Great job!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/24/2021 at 11:00 AM, JayEhl said:

You did all that stitching by hand?  And here I am complaining about my stitch work on simple and much smaller projects!   Man, that's something I would be proud of, let alone the magnitude of such a project!   Great job!

 

Thank you! I find it really relaxing if I'm being honest haha I guess it's probably similar in sensation to crocheting or knitting; I just set up in front of the TV and had at 'er! I admittedly had a few times where I needed to put the project down for a few days out of frustration- from breaking needles and such but I quickly learned that an awl is my friend... as is a pair of needle nose pliers wrapped in leather (as without the leather it was really marking up my needles). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great job a very ambitious start to the craft. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/26/2021 at 11:20 AM, chuck123wapati said:

Great job a very ambitious start to the craft. 

Thank you! It was a lot of fun and taught me a lot :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amazing!

I made one like that only it was tooled. 
you’re gonna love working with leather. 
 

image.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most Excellent first attempt.  Keep at it.  Very impressed with your stitching.  Hand stitching is an art in itself.  It's very relaxing and I love doing it.  I'd love to see your next project. If  this is the first I can imagine how well your next will be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nicely done :) on your edge bevelers making gouges and feeling like you're using it wrong I HIGHLY recommend you sharpen/polish your cutting implements. I too bought many of my first tools from Tandy and just went to town, then I finally started focusing on learning how to sharpen my tools and WOW! sharps tools make a HUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEEEEE difference! 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/9/2021 at 10:49 PM, Chief Filipino said:

Nicely done :) on your edge bevelers making gouges and feeling like you're using it wrong I HIGHLY recommend you sharpen/polish your cutting implements. I too bought many of my first tools from Tandy and just went to town, then I finally started focusing on learning how to sharpen my tools and WOW! sharps tools make a HUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEEEEE difference! 

 

 

Definitely! I just purchased a "stopping block" and some compound.. mind you my tools are all from a $150 kit from Amazon so I am not expecting much from them. I was told cheap tools won't sharpen but I'll give it a try and go from there...wish me luck :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/6/2021 at 10:54 PM, Buttons said:

Amazing!

I made one like that only it was tooled. 
you’re gonna love working with leather. 
 

image.jpeg

That's quite stunning. I always thought "tooled" was the process of using tools to cut, shape, etc the leather, now I'm assuming it refers to the engraving process so that's good to know!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 I was told cheap tools won't sharpen but I'll give it a try and go from there...wish me luck

I think that "cheap" tools might not hold an edge as well as some of the tools made from better steel but I'm pretty sure you will be able to get them sharp.  I have some expensive knives that don't hold an edge either...I think the key is in the kind of steel used to make the knife from the beginning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...