Following the Instructions – When I Feel Like It (part 1)

by Felix

Following the instructions is generally a good idea. But we humans are adaptable critters, right? We can adapt to new circumstances (and haven’t we seen a lot of those here in 2020!), we can adapt to new ideas, and we can adapt to new things.

In my case, I’m going to adapt a thing to my purposes. Specifically, I want to experiment with making a variety of waist bags (or “bum bag” if you prefer; I’m not calling it a “fanny pack” because I know what that means in many Commonwealth countries :)).

Why not start from scratch? Because I don’t want to reinvent the proverbial wheel. So, I decided to buy a pattern online (“Leather Waist Bag” by Creative Awl) and make some changes in how it’s assembled. I fully expect to look at the final results and think “that’s not my style,” or “wow, did I ever mess up.” And that will be a good thing because I will learn from it.

Getting Started

There’s a good video online showing how to assemble the bag, but there’s one big catch – I don’t intend to hand sew a single stitch! Don’t get me wrong – hand-sewn leather looks great and I love it – but I’m not going to do it. I’m going to use glue and an industrial sewing machine.

First, we cut out the pattern. In my case, I’m transferring it to card stock because that makes it easy to transfer to leather.

Patterns Copied to Cardstock

Next, we transfer that pattern to some veg-tanned leather (4oz., in this case). I should not have used a ball point pen; the ink is seeping into the leather. Whoops! Next time, I’ll use my silver pen.

Patterns Copied to Leather

Cutting out the pattern is a simple process that just involves leather scissors, two sizes of circular punch, a razor-sharp utility knife, a belt punch and a Japanese skiving knife. Simple – for a given value of simple.

Dying the Leather

Now, it’s time to dye the leather. That video that Creative Awl put out showed me a really interesting dye technique that I want to try. I was originally just going to assemble the bag un-dyed, but I thought I’d learn something else along the way.

I ended up using a three-stage dying process. First, I dyed the base in English Bridle (Fiebing’s Pro Dye), then all the outer edges in a generous dollop of Chocolate. Finally, I worked my way in from the edges with dried sponges loaded with Dark Brown.

I’m quite happy with the result. Which is good because next time I pursue the dubious joys of inserting the zipper – with glue!

Until then…

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