I’m currently working on a custom order. Projects are coming to an end for a few weeks with the impending surgery. The dimensions of this bag are suited to fit a specific waterproof map case already owned by the customer.
Stitching Pony, Leather Worker’s Clamp, or Saddler’s Clam…
Whatever you call it, it is a handy device to own if you sew any leather. These are simple devices that just about anyone can make with little time or money invested. Although there are many varieties and models, the one shown in this tutorial by Harry Rogers of Bucklehurst Leather is the one I have most commonly seen. Is there no end to this man’s skill and diversity of talents?
The only comments I really have are:
YES, the jaws should be lined with thick, smooth leather and that the gap is necessary to keep the jaws as flat as possible against the work. It is also nice, but not necessary, to have a compression spring over the bolt to push the jaws apart when loosened. And finally (terrible way to open a sentence in writing I know), a recent comment from a friend suggested that the tightening nut could be replaced and a better system be devised from a bicycle quick release axle. Maybe on the next one.
Check out his leather work here:
When teaching a leather craft or making an item for someone, I am often asked about the machine used to sew such thick leather or through so many layers in tight areas. People are often astounded when I explain that this is all hand sewn, with an awl and two needles.
I learned saddle stitching before the internet was a thing and without a book. I was sewing leather bags, moccasins, and clothing in a relatively poor and untutored way. As I became more savvy over the years I was able to analyze older pieces and read an article or two about saddle stitching and cordwaining that began to make my work look more professional.
While I have considered making a video to give an introduction to saddle stitching I know there are many master craftsmen out there far more skilled to do this properly. One of them is Nigel Armitage of Armitage Leather. He is a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen of Britain which I understand is nothing to sneeze at (I can hardly imagine the level of dedication most of these men and women have for their crafts).
On to the show…
This is probably the best and simplest tutorial I have seen online about learning the basics of saddle stitch. If you are new to this, remember, the pricking iron is not an absolute necessity for starting out but it will make you seams straight and beautiful. If you don’t own one, you can still mark and follow a line or even mark the stitches with a ruler and awl (I did this for a very long time).
I hope this answers some question for those getting interested in leather work and saves you some of the headaches I experienced without proper instruction.