Sew Maria! Sew like the wind!

If you can guess the movie that came from, please don’t let anyone else know. It’s just embarrassing.

I hand sew a lot of my leather goods. This is for two reasons- first and foremost, the 2 needle saddle stitch is tough as hell. Every stitch is like a figure 8 over and over again. If it gets damaged, it just sits there. It won’t run like a machine seam will. Second, and this is very selfish- sewing time is really my only time to watch TV. Supernatural (don’t judge me), Dr. Who and Dexter have all played integral parts in my ritual of assembly and sewing.

First things first, it takes a long time to prepare the thread. So I usually do a whole projects worth and leave them lying around the house hang them carefully so they don’t fall into the carpet.

Saddle Stitching!!!

Then comes time to assemble the parts. This takes place in a small room with no ventilation. Leather needs to be seam-glued into place before it can be sewn. As this is leather, and not some wimpy cotton pinafore, the glue of choice is contact cement or barge cement. After careful masking, a nice liberal layer is spread on.

Love the smell of napalm in the morning

It was at this point I decided to try and take a picture of my sealant. This is important because the usual stuff I use does not work well with the new formulation of dyes. By ‘not work well’ I mean cause panic and scream-y terror. Pardon the bad photo, the fumes were kinda thick at this point and my hands a wee bit unsteady.

Good think I went outside to switch over laundry at this point. My neighbors dog had a contact buzz from the fumes, and I still had not even gotten it all assembled! Once my limbs got their strength back, I was ready to battle my mortal enemy- the leather gusset. Nails, pliers, bulldog clips and finally twist ties all go into bending 6 oz leather across a curve while maintaining a fold at the sewing line.

Sew we meet again, Mr. Bond

Ah, finally. Ready to start a Dexter marathon and sew this baby up!

Sorry, no more photos until this is in the hands of its rightful owner!

OK, one photo.
yum

Dyeing is killing me

OK, not really. Dyeing the bag was actually very fun- I like distressing finishes. Stippling the new formulation of the Tandy line of waterstains is awesome- they layer beautifully. The new hi-lite (replacing the Antiquing) is the most forgiving stuff I’ve ever played with. It even washes off your skin, instead of leaving you looking like you’re developing leprosy. The kicker comes with the finishing. The new formulations of dyes don’t play nice with the old formulation Satin Sheens. How you ask? Well, they sorta dissolve the hi-lite and pull it out off all the nooks and crannies, and redistribute it in pools….really, not attractive. Before you ask, yes, I let the hi-lite cure for 2 days before finishing it.

Anyhow, PICTURES.

(And saving the day for the finish was a combination of the old Satin Sheen and the amazingly finicky but tough Restolene!)

nearly there!

Pretty bird! err….dino

I have a bunch of pics for the sewing stage, which is about 1/3 of the way done. I’m off to construct a strap today, and edge finishing!

Microraptor!

Yesterday morning I set off to my local (and awesome!) Tech Shop for a bit of recreational leather working. After a bit of frustration with the laser cutter, I finally had things all ready for my latest custom order, a field bag with everyones favorite quadra-winged raptor, Microraptor zhaoianus.

Specific tooling designs call for scribbles and notes. I prefer to do mine in as obnixous color as I can find.

I decided I wanted to keep the cracks in the slab as part of the design. This can be accomplished with tooling, but also picking a piece of leather that has some natural marks and scars.

The pale lines visible at this stage will take up dye differently than the other parts.

Then there’s the not so subtle approach where you just beat the texture into the leather with a pointy metal stick.

Once that is done, its off to adding depth and texture. Most people call this stage ‘beveling’. I call it the ugly stage. But it’s necessary, because in the final dyeing steps, those little checkerboard textures get filled with a deep stain, adding another layer of depth to the tooling.

Part of what makes these dinos so fascinating are how well the feather imprints get preserved. Grain size of the sediment that buried it millions of years ago is one factor that allows for this incredible preservation. I wanted to carry that into this design, but really was at a bit of a loss for how to do it. In the end, I grabbed some 80 grit sandpaper and a 4 lb deadblow mallet. The little pock marks in the image below are the result. It feels really cool, too. It actually feels a bit like limestone. I’m thinking it will look really great when the stain gets into those little divots.

At last, it was time to clean up the epic mess I made and go home.


(it’s not ALL my mess. Only about 7/8th of it…)

I still have a bit of the uglies to beat out of it, and the areas that I want super detail in still have some work that needs doing. A lot of the detail for the bones will be taken from the Hwang et al 2002 paper. And the feathers- I can’t wait to see how those will turn out. I have a feeling there are some really good images to work from for those.


For the record, I don’t really know what’s going on with that toe…