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7984Re: [medieval-leather] Just joined - questions

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  • Ron Charlotte
    Jun 1, 2003
      At 05:53 PM 6/1/03 +0000, Phil wrote:

      I've just joined this group. I live in Hertfordshire just outside
      London England and I belong to Angelcynn, a living history group
      specialising in early Saxon period.

      I'm new to leatherwork but so far I've made 3 pairs of late Roman/
      early saxon open sandals and a pair of one piece turned shoes plus
      belts and a wallet for carrying tools etc when at an event.

      A few questions if you don't mind - sorry they're very basic but
      these are the problems I have at the moment.

      1.    What sort of knot do you use to tie off thread when stitching?
      (I said they were basic) When I'm saddle stitching between two pieces
      I can hide my knots but on, say the back of a belt, they tend to be
      more obvious. I tie a basic reef knot but they come out a bit big and
      not terribly secure. A description of a knot or a link to picture(s)
      would be good.

      I don't generally knot.  I nearly always backstitch 3-4 stitches.  Stabbed awl holes will tighten down with a short passage of time, especially if you are able to lightly tap the seam with a hammer.  The leather will also swell closed with the application of moisture, either by lightly wetting the piece (heavily handled pieces benefit from a wipedown with saddle soap or alcohol before the final sealers are applied), or the application of the final sealer.  The thicker the leather, the fewer back stitches are needed.  On low stress seams on 9-oz. or better leather, 2 backstitches are usually enough.   For a strap attachment, frequently 4-5 are required.

      There is a hidden knot technique where one creates an overhand knot with an extra loop (like the second pass of a "surgeon's knot) on a backstitch, followed by one last back stitch to tuck the ends. The actual knot gets pulled into the center of the layers of leather.  It's kind of hard to describe, I may see if I can do it with photography.  Once you actually _see_ it done, it's very easy to follow; it's just difficult to describe in text.  About the only  time I bother is for stuff that takes heavy abuse.

      2.   I tried decorative stitching on a belt - basically whip stitch
      down the edges - but my linen thread kept blooming - bits of stray
      fibre all over the place. I waxed the thread first (although perhaps
      not enough?) so any suggestions while I dont get a nice solid thread
      for my stitches?

      I use a 3 cord left twist linen made by Blue Mountain industries.  I ply it up when I need heavier cord.  This is a very firm thread, and I never have problems with fiber bloom.  I buy it unwaxed, and wax it with beeswax.  One trick that I have used to slick down waxed linen is to take a piece of light canvas and "burnish" the wax before you use it to sew.  This is normally done when sewing hair-on skins and leathers as it keeps the hairs from sticking to the wax as badly, but it might help with your bloom problem (especially if it's a handspun thread).  You may need to re-wax periodically as the sewing progresses.

               Ron Charlotte -- Gainesville, FL
               ronch2@... OR afn03234@...

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