First, hopefully not the last one either, custom order of the year is for a lovely gentleman and his Surface tablet.
After being contacted and swapping multiple emails, we settled on a great plan to create a personal carry case or sleeve (because, hey! not only shirts deserve a sleeve!!!) for his office-on-the-go.
This is an ongoing project so the blog will span multiple days, and I promise to post as many pictures, comments, and tips as I can so you can all follow along.
Why? Because the process of creating shouldn't only be fun and informative for the one doing the creating. It should be fun for everyone else interested and it should inspire!
Leather working is such an ancient "art", that it should be carried on!
With that said, here we go! The progress so far...
- I measured and cut out the size of leather that is needed for the top part of the sleeve that will be wet-molded.
- Made sure to include at least double the thickness of the item (and a touch more) for wet-molding and stitching line.
- The fun part was to give this lovely piece of 7oz veg tan leather a bath! Yep, we soaked in water until there were no more bubbles....(no, not talking about the Shrek kind of bubbles....lol)
- Once the leather was nice and soaked, I moved it to a plastic bag that I placed into another plastic bag to make sure it keeps the moisture in. Now I am set for the night for this piece until it takes it's sauna break.
The evidence or rather lack of....it seems to be under cover!
- While this may seem the end of the work day for the day, the planning is more laborious and time consuming.
- After making a cup of coffee, I sat to work to design the base to which the molded top will be attached. This involved:
- planning the opening of the case itself
- measuring out the base size, including stitching allowance and a hair more
- figuring out where the snaps securing the flap should go and making sure the orientation is correct on both the top and bottom pieces
- designing the flap shape itself, including its curves, and size
- I like to prepare a paper mock-up of all my designs that need to be worked out, as it is easier to draw and erase on paper, than to cut and re-cut expensive leather.
- Aaaaand, here is what I had built. This will be crucial once it comes to cutting the leather.
- Presented the customer with options regarding the design he would like to be tooled on the sleeve:
Although it may not seem all that much, precision is vital and small tweaks happen until the plan is as the customer asked for it.
This is where the work flow for this day came to an end for the sleeve. Will be back with a gorgeous and pliable piece of leather tomorrow and progress on with wet-molding and tooling!
Glad you stopped by to check on the progress. The sleeve actually got completed before I got the write up the rest of the blog. But this way you get all! Not bad huh?
Wet-molding is actually quite fun but could be boring. Not a lot of action shots!
Before anything happened, I had to remove the leather from the "sauna" and let it sit. Want to wait until the top of the leather is almost to its original colour. Then you have a nicely cased piece that will take up shape as you need it without pushing back. If the leather is too wet, it will not hold shape, and it is the same if it is too dry. I just has to be right :) This looks pretty good!
While waiting, I needed to find the correct size of base to stretch the leather over.
Once I figured out the size of base I needed, I stretched the wet leather over it and encouraged it into shape using my hands and a bone-creaser. It does take a bit of work as you want to make sure it is exactly the shape you want it to be.
Below is the "fight". Skin against skin....mine against the Moo :) I won, to be assured...
Once, it is the right shape, you tack it. Improvisation is my middle name, so it got tacked to some boards I had. And the drying began.....*waiting....still waiting...*
While the drying takes place, I don't waste time, and work on the flap and under-side of the piece. No better time to cut and tool out the design the customer wished for.
Made sure to mark all necessary placements for snaps too!
Next steps are to apply the finishes to all the pieces at the same time. Once the wet-molded piece was dry, we applied a very light brown oil dye for richness of colour.
After drying time, I applied a nice layer of neatsfoot oil to replace some of the moisture lost in the molding and tooling process. These steps take about 24 hours to dry completely before onward progress.
Next came the chestnut highlight. That is what happened next. Gave the pieces a lovely depth and a gorgeous chestnut finish. Did I mention there was waiting involved? Yep...another 24 hrs.
Light brown oil drying.....
Next came the liner. Customer requested a nice soft liner to keep the tablet scratch-free :) No problem, said I! So the sleeve just got a step more luxurious, with a soft suede pig liner in dark brown.
After all these steps we were about halfway through the project. Next were attaching the snaps to the front, assembling the sleeve, gluing, stitching, and finally edge finishing and sealing....So many steps, I keep a note pad by my side to make sure I do everything planned and in order. It may sound trivial the way some things need to be executed, but miss one step and the correction is more cumbersome than the whole process! No kidding!
So here are the next images for these steps :)
Stitching the liner to top
Punching stitches and cutting edge to make a gorgeous sandwich! Isn't that just lovely?
After edge finishing steps, that involves sanding, slicking, edge painting, sanding and slicking....
Almost there! I like to apply a coat of top finish before stitching and after completion too.
This particular piece got Resolene to make it a little more water repellent and also some Aussie magic, the conditioner that makes it a little more weather-proof.
Here it is, the completed product. Hope you enjoyed the process of making this with me!