How To Do Leatherwork
Learn how to do your own leatherwork. Working with leather to make items of clothing or accessories can be a very rewarding experience.
Working with leather to make items of clothing or accessories can be a fun and rewarding experience. Here are some tips on how to make leather vests, hats, moccasins, sandals, and clothing.
The most direct way to get leather is hunting, trapping, or raising your own livestock, although in many areas there will be government regulations concerning when, where, and how you can hunt or trap. You can also purchase your leather and leather supplies from any area leather store. When you hunt or trap for your hides, you will need to fully understand the process of skinning the hide and tanning it prior to working with the leather. If you purchase leather, it has already gone through the necessary processes, and you can began to work with it. In working with leather you will need a pattern for the item you are making that has been cut out of stout cardboard. Patterns can be purchased for leather work, but in many cases you will still need to copy them onto cardboard before you begin cutting. Your cutting surface will need to be hard and even, such as a linoleum floor or large table. You will need leather shears or a utility knife to cut the leather and a leather punch for making holes. Most leather is joined using nylon or waxed linen thread, thin strips of leather, or thin strips of rawhide.
Place your leather face down on the hard surface you have chosen. Using a pencil with a sharp point that is held perpendicular to the leather, trace around the pattern. Using an awl, retrace the pencil line, initially only cutting part way through the leather. Make the final cut and clean up any rough edges. When you sew the leather you will be making stitches that are between 1\8 inch and 1\4 inch from the outer edge. The stitches will be 1\8 inch to 1\4 inch apart as well. If the leather is thick, you will need to mark your stitches on the leather before using a thin hole punch to make the holes. This should be done with the thinner leathers as well, but the holes should be kept as small as possible.
A glover's needle that has a very sharp point should be used for thin leathers and a harness needle that has a blunt point will be needed for thicker leathers. The two most common stitches used when sewing leather are the running stitch and saddler's stitch. Using the sewing medium of your choice, thread the needle and make a knot at the end to make the running stitch. Insert the needle in the first two holes of the item you are joining and run it through, coming into the second hole. Continue until you reach the end of the item you are sewing and knot the end of the medium. For extra security when using the running stitch, keep the stitches secure and from pulling out by stitching back to the beginning. This will create a double running stitch. To make the saddler's stitch you need to use a needle at each end of your medium. Each needle will enter both holes from opposite directions, which will create a looping stitch. These stitches should be secured at the end with a locked saddler's stitch, which is made by passing both needles back through the last hole and pulling the medium tight. Then, the thread or medium should be cut flush with the leather at the end. A third way of joining your leather is lacing. For this you will need flat lacing or strips of leather thong, and the stitches will go over the side cuts of the leather in a looping fashion.