Hello my crafty friends! How are you doing today?
I am planning my next leather project and though it would be fun to share with you what I’ve learned so far, but before we dive into making anything we need to prep the leather first. Disclaimer here…I am not a professional, and more of an adventurous beginner when it comes to leather craft, so bear this in mind.
There are various steps of prepping a piece of leather which depends on your personal preference or the final look of the project you want to achieve, however today I will only focus on the steps of marking a stitching lines and making a stitching holes using tools that I’ve tried myself.
If you look around you will see that there are a lot of different tools available on the market, and unfortunately you will need to purchase some of them to get you started with the leather craft.
Marking the stitching line
Why do I even need to mark a stitching line? Well, you don’t have to if you really don’t want to, but I would highly recommend it if you want to keep your line of stitching straight. This step is definitely helpful before making stitching holes, to prevent a wonky seam.
If you do not want o invest in fancy marking tools, you can simply mark a stitching line using your pencil and a ruler. Obviously, to avoid any of the lines showing I would do it on the wrong side of the leather, because it stays there forever (or at least for a very long time). By the way, when working with a leather it is preferable to use a metal ruler with a cork backing to stop it from slipping. I would avoid thin plastic rulers, because they tend to be very flimsy. I also like quilting rulers, because they are thick and have more grip.
If you want to invest in some tools, I would recommend getting an awl. It is an inexpensive and easy to use.
To make a line grab the awl by the wooden handle and glide the pointy end over the leather scratching it slightly. Use the ruler to keep a straight line. Again, this isn’t the best way to mark the line, because there is a danger of scratching the leather too much or in the wrong place, but it is fine if you practice on a scrap of leather first.
Once you get into more serious leather crafting, you might want to buy some sort of adjustable wing divider or edge groover. What is great about both tools is that they are adjustable so the spacing of the line form the edge can be amended to whatever you need for each project, plus there is no need for a ruler, because you simply guide a prong along the edge of the leather to mark the stitching line. The first tool marks a stitching line by making a tiny crease / indent in the leather. It can be used on all sorts of leather types.
The adjustable groover however cuts out the groove in the leather. Depending how much pressure you put on the tool, the groove can be more or less deep. This tool is great on a thicker leather or when you are stitching with a thicker thread, because the thread will sit inside the groove and will not protrude as much, which in turn will protect the stitching line from damage during the time of use.
Making stitching holes
After you’ve marked the stitching line it is time to punch the stitching holes. If you are using very thin leather it is possible to punch it through with a regular sewing needle, but you probably will get very tired doing that.
Instead, use your trusted awl!
Alternatively, you can use a revolving punch pliers, but even the smallest hole are too big for my liking unless you are using a cord for your stitches and not regular waxed linen thread. You will have to be extra careful to make the holes evenly spaced, so it is best to measure it beforehand.
The best and my favourite way is to use a chisel punch. Unfortunately they can be a bit pricey and you also need some sort of rubber mallet and a cutting board to use with it. I really liked the one I used during the Leathercraft workshop day, because it has an adjustable prongs. I can simply unscrew the prongs whenever I need it and this way I do not have to buy the entire set of prongs. The price is similar to the hole set, but I rather have one chisel, because I do not have much space in my sewing corner. Whenever I unscrew any prongs I make sure to keep them on a magnetic board with my pins to avoid loosing them.
I really like hand sewing leather and even got a stitching pony for my last birthday to make the process even more enjoyable. I picked one that was hand made in Russia and I absolutely love it. Hope this post was somehow informative to get you started. There is nothing scary about working with leather, so try it out!
Where did I get my tools from?
I purchase the tools from various shops:
Black rubber mallet (www.artisan leather.co.uk)
Adjustable groover (www.artisan leather.co.uk)
White small cutting board (www.artisan leather.co.uk)
Pointed awl (www.abbeyengland.com)
Adjustable 5 prong chisel punch (www.easygraphic.co.uk)
Non-slip metal ruler with cork backing (www.amazon.co.uk)
Wing divider (www.amazon.co.uk)
Revolving punch pliers (www.amazon.co.uk)