Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Leather Skills Workshop at Centre Front Studio

Leather Skills Workshop

I had previously made a leather pouch with Rory but decided I wanted to do this workshop with her as I didn’t use the proper machine feet the first time around. Last time I had to use baby talc and found some of my stitching was slightly uneven.

The finished pouch, modelled by David

I took my small sewing machine to class. I also took its walking foot. I had bought a roller foot and a leather roller foot and so reckoned I was ready for anything!

Leather roller foot

Roller foot

I took some leather scraps with me but these are upholstery leather and too thick for garments. This class was about using nappa for garment construction.  I left the scraps behind though as they are useful for other things, craft projects.

Only two of us managed to get to class but that’s a nice number when you’re the student. Perhaps not as the tutor(s) – Dan was there to help, too, though fortunately she had other tasks to busy herself with. Centre Front Studio runs a number of  short workshops - recently, one on zips and one on buttonholes. I didn't feel I needed to go to either of those. They were very successful.

We started with various samples of different types of leather. This didn’t actually include vegan leather though one of the girls in the class previously where I made the leather pouch was vegan and used this.

We then looked at seaming methods and tried out samples of each. I found I was able to use my walking foot for top stitching too as my foot didn’t mark the leather. Leah had to change to another foot as hers did mark the leather. The walking foot worked wonderfully well. No slipping of stitches.

Taped seam

Lapped seam with top sttiching

Closed seam with topstitching

Holes visible if you get it wrong!

I used my walking foot and found that my machine behaved impeccably so didn’t need to use either of my fancy new feet. Rory has asked me to take them to a future class so she can have a play as she found the leather roller foot fascinating. I had taken a list of what it was good for with me as found in my Bernina Big Book of Feet

Every foot you've heard of and then many more!

I was amazed at the difference in feel to a seam which had been glued. I was also fascinated by the fell seam which was so supple. I had difficulty with the channel seam and the taped seam – clearly these need more practice.

We were reminded not to glue AND topstitch

Rory warned us NOT to press seams in leather. She said that some people say you can do it but even if the leather looks okay at the time, it has reduced its life span and made it drier. She showed us a project she had made with just a little heat at the edges to show how powerful heat can be:

Isn't it lovely?

My resource workbook with samples

Workshop Project

We made a pouch, somewhat bigger than our previous one but similar in design. Rory had a sample with a channel seam  which looked lovely but Leah and I both elected not to do this. We’re cowards! However, we both wanted to practice  an easier version before trying anything fancier.

Rory modified that pattern to allow us to insert the zip flat and of course this made it easier. We subtracted and added the appropriate amounts to a paper pattern before cutting into the leather – in this case, pig leather. I didn't take photos of inserting the zip.

Rory showed us how to mark the right side of the leather to allow us to sew the zip on accurately. I elected to use double sided tape to keep the zip in place. This worked well BUT the needle was covered with gunge and glue. I cleaned it off and decided I didn’t want to use this in future unless, as Rory said, it was as a last resort. She favours taping the reverse side with masking tape. Leah and I had both had problems removing masking tape we had stitched over earlier on, before realising that we shouldn’t stitch over it, its just to hold in place.

Our zips were the correct length (we chose the easy option again!). I couldn’t of course use my walking foot. Rory suggested my leather roller wheel but I have a Teflon zipper foot and this worked perfectly.

We chose top stitched open seams for the base. Things were going smoothly until Rory realised she’d made an error in the pattern.  In practical terms, this meant that when we were creating the gussets in each corner that the seam allowance had to be 2.5 cms rather than 1 cm – in turn, this meant that our pouches were tall and skinny with a slight waisted effect, compared to the original.  I don't have photos of the gusset creation- too stressful!

I didn't use topstitiching thread or doubled ordinary thread - I should certainly have done so as this would mean that the stitching would show more clearly.

This had kept us back a bit so Rory stitched up the lining for the cases. I can’t remember what she called it (duo lining?) but she used curtain lining with a padded reverse as she said that meant we didn’t have to use additional padded materials. I sewed the lining in, by hand, at home, catching all around the zipper tape.

In class, the last thing we did was to make the tassel out of a strip of leather, cut into fronds and rolled up, with a thong in the centre. My thong is probably a bit long!!

The pattern can be made in leather, or of course in fabric, with various different versions. I do like Rory’s version with the channel (reverse taped) seam. Rory corrected the error that had led to our earlier problems and so I have a pattern I can use for further versions should I choose to pursue that

I like my pouch. I especially like the lining! Our previous pouch wasn’t lined. I found the class useful. I do want to use some of the leather scraps I have at home. They are all thicker than what we were havingin class. My machine may handle them – I need to experiment. David has a vintage Singer which certainly should handle them but he is expecting to hand sew. The class didn’t cover techniques for thicker leathers – hole punching, thinning seams etc

Leah wants to make various versions as gifts for her friends. I think I’ll stick to garment sewing, though I might make my grandson a tablet cover from the science fabric I have left over from his shirt. That won’t be in leather though I suppose the outside could be leather and the inside the science fabric, couldn’t it?


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  2. Lovely pouch, sounds like a really good workshop, I've just bought some leather from fabworks to have a play with!

    1. Thanks. I enjoyed the workshop. It sounds good that you've bought some leather to play with. The leather I previously bought is too thick for these .


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