If you want to catch up on previous entries of my saga before I start whining in today’s entry because whine I will, these are pt.1, pt.2, pt.3, pt.4, pt.5 and pt.6. It seems I’ve had nothing but trouble. Do I like to sew? Did I actually say that? On tape? Be that as it may, here’s evidence of my progress at right. Blog experts say you’re more likely to click through if I post a pretty (humor me) picture at the top of the page. This is style #4216 so far.
But let me start at the beginning which started last weekend. I spent some time cleaning up the joint. I can see my desktop for the first time in months. I found checks that weren’t so old I couldn’t cash them. Best of all, my uncle finally came up from El Paso to pick up that industrial Singer along with some other stuff that needed a new home. There’s only one good thing about being a packrat; it’s genetic. Because it’s genetic, you have family members with the condition and luckily for me, Uncle also married a pack rat so I was home freeee! As it happens, not only did this clear up some floor space, doing so solved my electrical problem because I found another circuit with nothing on it. It also solved the problem of placing the pressing station. Now I don’t have to traipse 50 feet away to iron or wend my way around a bank of machines that effectively serve to divide the room. I’ve been pressing more. Things look spiffier. Life is good. Until I started sewing.
Inset sewing on leather
What follows is a quasi tutorial of reverse applique on leather. I’d posted photos of the pattern before. That link actually shows the sewing guides, not the actual pattern pieces which are interspersed here. My top layer is maroon. The color is prettier in the photo than in real life but it doesn’t look bad in real life either. The second layer is lighter green and the bag body is olive.
Theoretically, the hard part about doing these is the pattern. Then it’s working sewing order in your mind and then lastly it’s sewing. Sewing takes a long time though. First you cut out the top layer (above right). Not a great photo but you can see straps so you know it’s the top layer.
The second layer looks weird (link). You have to notch it so it will lay exactly right under the top layer. At right is a photo of the underlay (light green) on top of the backside of the maroon. You can see the first layer of stitching has already been done.
By the way, the black stuff you see on the backs of all these pieces is fusible. Fusible is good. Black is not good. Black is not good because it’s difficult to see marks on it. It took me twenty minutes to sew this first layer of stitching. I prefer to use white because you can trace the sewing line with the guide very quickly with a ball point pen. The problem with white though is that when you trim the leather away on the top side, the white will show. Black blends better.
Right you’ll see I’ve trimmed away the first layer (maroon) close to the line of stitching. For effect, I laid it on top of the olive body to see what it’d look like but it’s not attached yet. In the following photos though, it is attached with embroidery adhesive. I love this stuff.
At this stage is when I ran into a lot of problems. I had a second sewing guide for the second layer of stitching but ya know, it didn’t match up like it was supposed to. I’ve never done exactly this sort of double inset so I didn’t think about it. So, how to fix? The second line of stitching had to be customized to the first. What I ended up doing was to use chalk to trace the first layer from the back. To get fine lines, I used a silver calligraphy pen I bought last night.
From the finish line of the first layer, I drew out the second line of stitching 1/4″ away. I thought I got a picture before I sewed it but I didn’t. Instead I’ll show you the line already sewn (right).
The biggest hassle of doing this (other than what I’ve already said) is trimming the top layer away to match the sewing line. I use a pair of home sewing applique scissors. These are great with very sharp points. The problem with trimming is two fold. The most obvious one is that the fusible sticks to the embroidery adhesive so it’s not as simple to trim away as it should be. I had to use a knitting needle and come in from the bottom to separate the layers. The second problem is, color on a leather hide is a surface treatment, the color rarely penetrates through the hide. So when you cut an edge that will be visible, you have to do it at an angle so the white inner portion of the hide doesn’t show.
The summary result of Style #4216 is that if I do this in even small quantities, the marking process will have to be redesigned. I’m not quite sure how that would work yet (ideas?). Or, I’d dispense with two layers of insets and just have one. This particular bag would cost too much. For now, below is a full size photo of the bag front. So what do you think? Would you pay $1,000 bucks for this? I didn’t think so but that’s what if feels like this should cost at this point. Why do I do this to myself?
Until I can clean this entry to make it a bit clearer, I’ve uploaded these photos and others (full size) to a web album.