30 September 2015

Leather Laptop Messenger Bag: Weekly Update

Hello everyone!

I have been working on a new bag design this week. It will be very similar to my Artist's Leather Messenger Bag, but this one will be slightly larger and thinner to allow for a laptop computer. Here is my inkscape mock up of how I am thinking the design will end up.

I have started on the prototyping process. Here are a couple pictures of the different versions I have come up with.

I think my husband's favorite part of my business is that he often gets the new products I come up with, and this bag is no exception. I am making it to be the right dimensions for his laptop and cord. Ideally, the final design would be made to order, and I could fit it to the dimensions of each individual customer's laptop.

The biggest challenge so far is to make an attractive looking pocket for the cord to fit in, as it is an awkward sort of thing to put in a bag. My husband insists that he would love for the charger to be in the flap area of the bag so that it it easy to grab when the bag is sitting open, so that is how I have designed it. I am still toying with the option of adding a gusset type piece stitched into the side of the flap (see flap B) to give it a bit more of an area for the charger to fit, or if I should just allow it to sit in a flat pocket (see flap A), where it will likely stretch the leather out a bit over time to create more room if it needs it. Hopefully this picture shows what I mean:

Also trying to decide if I need some snaps or a zipper to keep the pocket flap closed when not in use.

For this particular bag, my husband picked out some really nice 4oz buffed cowhide.

Other than that, I have been looking through some of my shoe listings and trying to update my item descriptions and really trying to think about what it truly important in my products. What makes it unique, what would make customers pick me over other options.

As you may or may not know, I am going to have a baby in the next month-ish, so I have been slowly removing listings, especially those that take a long time to make, in order to prepare for the inevitable break I will be taking from my shop. I will be putting it in full vacation mode probably end of next week or the next, depending on how things go. I am trying to use some of this time to refocus my goals so I can come back strong when the store is back up and running.

Anyhow, I'm supposed to post a link to this post on Facebook in about 4 minutes, so I better be done for now. Tune in next week! (If there is no next week, you can assume I am pushing out a baby or am very busy nesting and you can expect to get an update on that soon as I can!)

23 September 2015

A Moccasin Marathon Success and Leather Boiling Fail: Weekly Update

Hello everyone!

Is is possible that I let two weeks slip away just like that? Apparently it is! Anyhow, here's a recap of what I've been up to the last 14 or so days.

Moccasin Marathon Success

First, let's start with the success, which I managed just yesterday. I made a goal for myself to finish an entire pair of shoes start to finish including the pattern all in one day. I usually work on one project for a couple hours and then switch to another task for a while, but I thought it would be interesting to know exactly how long a pair of shoes takes to make. Now this certainly wasn't ideal circumstances by any means, as I encountered some problems along the way which slowed me down a bit, but altogether it worked out ok. I started around 9:40 AM, and completed them just after 12:30 AM. Don't worry, I took about an hour and a half break for lunch and a break for supper and rejuvenation at the bookstore, so in all, it took around 8 & 1/2 hours to complete one pair of moccasins.

Problems I ran into (in case you were curious) included needing to stop and sharpen my very dull skiving knife, it being difficult at times to see what I was doing since I was working with a very dark colored leather, and working with a cheap awl for some of the stitching.

I bent my nice awl last week and am waiting on the replacement still, so there wasn't much I could do about that. Thankfully my slicing blade awl was still working just fine, so I was able to stitch the soles on easy-peasey as ever. However, I didn't want too big of holes on any of the upper, and so used a crappy awl I picked up from Hobby Lobby's jewelry department. What you need an awl for when making jewelry, I don't know, but I wouldn't recommend the one Hobby Lobby keeps on hand unless you are not going to be poking a lot of holes in one sitting.

I also think I need a good lamp to help with the visibility issues, though it is a little crazy how much more difficult it is to see the darker the leather is. I notice this difference when I do my messenger bags as well.

Skiving Explained

I thought it might be worthwhile to make a little picture to show the skiving process. I skive the edges around the heel bit I add to the back of the shoes for added stiffness, durability and to give it a bit different look than a traditional moccasin style. It is an important step; if you don't do it, it can lead to discomfort while walking because of the ridge it can create where the edge of your foot presses down. It may seem like something so thin wouldn't matter, but believe me, it does! There are lots of other reasons you might skive leather, but this is the main reason I end up needing to do it in my day-to-day activities. So basically, you use a REALLY SHARP knife to taper the edge of the leather from its current thickness to as thin as possible along the edge, making the edge angled, rather than square. The knife has to be razor sharp or this process is a giant hassle, and dangerous too, as it is easy to slip with the knife and gouge your fingers or other nearest body part instead. Here is a picture which I hope sort of shows it visually in an easily understandable way.



 Leather Hardening

Another project I worked on a bit ago was to heat up some of my veg-tanned leather in an effort to toughen and harden it for soles. My husband and I worked on this project together, and used this tutorial. We only left the leather in for 30 seconds, but we must have done it wrong, because in the end the leather was very brittle and cracked when I tried to bend it. We kept it at or under 180 degrees, so the heat wasn't too high. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Other Projects

Here are some pics of other projects I worked on this week. I made some moccasin boots for a customer, and made a bunch of veg tanned animal cutouts. I also made another messenger bag like this one.

Well that's it for now! I will try to return to a doing weekly update instead of the elongated version, since I think I might have missed some things, and this ended up with a lot of random stuff jammed into it. Happy Wednesday!

09 September 2015

How to Prep your Leather for Stitching Using Leathercraft Cememt

I have now used leather cement a couple of times for holding seams together before stitching, and have found that it works really well, so I thought I would share my method with you all.

I use Eco-Flo Leather Craft Cement, and it seems to work great for this. It is a little messy if you just try to use the bottle to apply, so usually I pour a little out onto a piece of tinfoil or waxed paper and dip a cotton swab into the glue and use it like a paint brush to apply to the leather. This way, there are no drips or excess glue .

What you do is to apply a thin line to the edge of your leather where you want to eventually stitch a seam. I would recommend not making the glue line any deeper than where the stitches will eventually be, so you do not have to rip the pieces apart later. I allowed for a quarter inch seam allowance, so I just made sure the glue was a quarter inch or less into the leather from the edge. Make sure to spread it out so that the glue will not ooze when you squeeze the seams together. I used the cotton swab for spreading and applying glue.

Basically, you just continue this down the seam for all of it that you want to glue together. I am leaving the pucker-toe unglued, since it would be too hard to glue an area that will be gathered on one piece and not on the other.

I tried this (gluing the pucker-toe) with Wayne's moccasin boots, and it didn't work out too great. There is so little area you want it to stick in between each pucker that it is very difficult to get even. Thankfully the cement was easy enough to get apart, so it wasn't a big deal, it just didn't help me any in the long run. I instead used the chalk markers to ensure that it puckered evenly along the toe. I placed one hole at each point I had marked with chalk on my pattern and then placed three evenly spaced holes in between each of these holes and this made the pucker turn out great without too much variation along the toe.

Here is how they turned out!

01 September 2015

More Hedgehogs and Boots: Weekly Update

Hello everyone, might sound a bit repetitive, but this week I am again working on hedgehogs, moccasin boots and messenger bags! This week I finished up the screen printing on the messenger bag and delivered it Monday.

created an add design option on etsy
Got a couple orders for the hedgehog key chains, so I made a couple more this week. Also officially have a listing up for the hedgehog key chains. I think the pics turned out super cute. :)

see this on etsy :)

Experimenting with boiling and compressing leather for veg- tanned soles. I have a customer interested in leather soles, and I am wanting to make sure they last as long as possible. I had heard about compressing and hardening leather with water, so I thought that would be good to try out. Wayne (my husband) was very excited about this idea, so he tried placing the leather in very hot water (180F) for 30 seconds and then clamping it with a thin piece of wood we had laying around. It seems much harder now. I hope it will still be flexible enough and not brittle. Apparently if you do it too long it can get very brittle. I will need to purchase a wider piece when I do the real sole.

Also working on a pair of moccasin boots for a customer, and a pair for myself. Made the prototype for the customer, and am hoping to send it to him to make sure the fit is good before making the real thing. I am making a pair for myself to make sure I can scale the pattern well for the smaller female sizes before listing on etsy. The pattern seems fairly scalable, so I am happy about that!

Other than that, I have been going crazy making cute vector images in the hopes of translating them to leather in the future! Have a couple intended for screen printing and a couple for future key chain designs. You can see them if you like at my other blog, Cerulean's Picturebook. I also made some fall themed designs just for the heck of it. Getting excited for the fall!

Popular Posts