Monday, December 21, 2009

Handsewn leather

Years ago, I made a split-cowhide vest for my brother Scott. He outgrew it, and gave it back to me, barely worn. (Around the same time, I hand-sewed -- ENTIRELY -- two jackets, one for my Dad and one for my boyfriend, out of shearling -- sheepskin with the fur still on it; but I later realized that nobody could wear them; the fur made the sleeves so bulky, nobody could get an arm into the jacket sleeve.) I ran into the vest recently in a closet, and I recalled how I created the design I put on the back of a thistle - I went out into my yard, sketched one, simplified it, stylized it, cut it out of colored suede, tacked it in place with rubber cement, and hand-sewed it on with a glover's needle.

Glover's needles look really odd -- instead of a sharp point and smooth, cylindrical sides, they have 3 sharp edges for a quarter inch or so back from the point. And you must sew with a sure hand. If you make too many attempts at one stitch, instead you have created a hole in the leather.

Here are a couple of photos; I'm still proud of the design, and the workmanship.
--Rachel Holmen

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