I started running leatherwork courses as a result of the success of the book and the many requests from people from all over the world who needed help to realise their ambition of becoming designers and makers of hand stitched leather goods. Many of these have gone on to set up studios/workshops making leathergoods, having developed their their own style and ranges.
years of experience
Parts & Chapters
What Is Leather?
Leather is not simply the skin of a dead animal; it is a material made by a tanner.
It is essential that you have a place to work. A light, well-ventilated workshop is ideal.
Threads, Dyes, Leather dressings and polishes, Adhesives, Linings and Reinforcements.
In order to close bags and cases and to attach straps or handles you will need to use a variety of metal fittings.
Designing and Pattern Making
Designing leather goods is not difficult as long as you aim for functional simplicity.
Dyeing and Finishing
If you cannot obtain pre-dyed leather in the colour you want or if you plan to use decorative techniques, it is possible to dye natural russet yourself.
Neatly finished edges will improve the aesthetic appeal of an item as well as protecting and strengthening it.
Paring or Skiving, Splitting and Channelling
The word paring is commonly used for skins, while skiving is used for hide, but both words describe the same process.
The most versatile adhesive is leatherworking grade PVA adhesive.
Before you attempt to make any of the projects in this book you must master one, vital technique – hand stitching.
In Chapter 5, which discussed the basic steps in designing, the need to decide on an appropriate style of gusset at the design stage was emphasized.
It is important to keep pocket designs simple and to a minimum or your bag will become too heavy and impracticable. A well made hide bag will outlast even the best zips so only use one if you must.
Attaching Locks, Buckles and Studs
The function of these fittings is to provide secure means of closing leather goods or of closing and attaching straps and handles.
Straps and Handles
The style, the length, width and method of attachment should all be thought about and decided on at the design stage.
Moulding and Surface Decoration
An important and potentially creative characteristic of vegetable tanned leather is its ability to maintain a moulded shape.
The first three projects involve using the basic skills, and they require only the minimum tools to complete.
These three projects have been designed to develop the skills already learnt – cutting out, saddle stitching and cut-edge finishing.
The final four projects are all different. Each introduces the experienced maker to techniques that build on and extend the skills already known and practised.