Light weight leathers can be easily stitched by hand or on a sewing machine. If the machine is used, place a thin piece of paper beneath the leather to prevent the feed from marring the surface. Heavy leathers can be hand sewn, but small holes must be punched with an awl to accommodate the needle.
Lacing is done with narrow thongs of leather which can be either purchased or cut from a larger piece of goods. Various types of useful lacing are described below, but the following hints apply to all and will be of help in producing a neatly finished job.
If you have punched round holes, use a lace which is slightly larger than the openings, but which can be pulled through without tearing or stretching the leather. The working end of the lace should be trimmed to a point and may be stiffened by dipping it in glue or shellac. Always pass a lace through corner holes two or three times to cover the greater length of edge at these points.
Two laces can be spliced together by skiving the end of each at opposite angles and gluing them together with rubber cement (fig. 33). If you are working with slits rather than round holes, a lacing needle will be found necessary. The end of the thong should be skived thin and glued between the two wings of the needle,(fig. 34).
When lacing has been finished, it may be tapped lightly with a wooden mallet or rolled beneath the head of the mallet to flatten any small irregularities.
This is the simplest type of lacing, but is generally used only for joining two pieces of leather where the joint is not an outer edge. The illustration shows how one end of the lace (A) is skived and glued down between the two pieces of leather at the beginning so that it will be hidden when the lacing is pulled tight. The working end of the thong (B) is tucked through the last hole in the same way and glued between the two pieces when the lacing is finished.
This is the simplest method of binding an edge. It is done by passing the lace through a hole, over the edge, through the next hole, and so on. It it is used on a single thickness of leather, the ends of the lace are tucked back through two or three stitches on the inside of the leather. If two pieces are being laced together, however, the ends can be concealed between them in the manner described below.
The correct way to do this depends on whether the lacing is to go all the way around the article ending back at the starting point or whether it is to go only from one part of the edge to another. For partial lacing, the end (A) is skived and cemented between the two pieces of leather (fig. 37). The illustration shows how the lacing is done, starting and ending with a straight stitch which brings the lace twice through one hole at the beginning and twice through one hole at the end. The working end of the thong (B) is also skived and cemented between the two pieces of leather.
In continuous lacing, one end of the thong (A) is skived and cemented as above, but instead of beginning with a straight stitch the diagonal lacing is started at once (fig. 38). When it has been carried all the way around the article, there will be one empty hole left in the top piece of leather. The working end (B) is passed through this, skived and cemented.
This is simply a double over and over stitch (fig. 39). The thong is pulled through the first pair of holes to its middle point, and the lacing is done with both ends at the same time as in lacing a shoe (fig. 40).
If only part of an edge is to be covered, start with a straight stitch and continue lacing with both ends as in the over and over method. The illustration also shows how the lacing is ended by taking a straight stitch with each end of the thong and cementing them between the two pieces of leather.
If the stitching is continuous, it is started without the first straight stitch (fig. 41). The lace is passed through the first pair of holes and the diagonal lacing is continued with both ends around the whole article until it comes back to the starting point. The ends arc then passed through the first pair of holes and cemented as above.
This makes a heavier and more pronounced border than any of the above, but is somewhat more complicated to do well (fig. 42). The method of starting is the same, regardless of whether the lacing is to be continuous or not (fig. 43). The illustration also shows how ihc work is carried on. If the lacing does not go all around the article, the two loose ends arc carried down between the pieces of leather and cemented. If it is continuous, a neat joint can be made as follows. Carry the lacing all the way around until it reaches the starting point
Then turn the work around so that the back piece of leather is facing you (fig. 44). First pull the end (A) out of its loop. Second, pass the other end (15) down through the same loop. Third, pull the end (A) back through the hole (X) so that it hangs down between the two pieces of leather. The end (B) is then passed through the same hole and both ends are cemented in place between the sheets of leather.
Many leather workers recommend cleaning and polishing the various parts of an article before they are assembled, as this protects the surface from finger marks during the lacing. In any case, a final cleaning and polishing is advisable after the object is completed and at intervals thereafter. This will keep the leather permanently clean and pliable. Leather that is very dirty can be cleaned with a 10 percent solution of oxalic acid applied to the dampened surface. In most cases, however, saddle soap will both clean and polish the leather sufficiently. An ordinary sheepskin shoe polisher will give the leather a soft shine. If a higher degree of polish is desired, use a neutral colored paste wax. Rub on a very thin coat and polish briskly but lightly. A good liquid polish may be used when the wax is dry if desired.
Metal plates, such as the kind used in key containers, can be fastened to leather by means of a split eyelet which is pushed through a hole in the leather, then through a corresponding hole in the metal plate and secured by bending out the edges of the eyelet with an eyelet setter (fig. 45).
To attach snap fasteners to leather, it is advisable to use one of the sets sold for this purpose. Each half of the fastener is in two parts. The bottom half consists of a post and a spring (fig. 46). The same illustration shows how these are assembled. The post is set on the end of the anvil with the small projection. A hole is punched in the leather just large enough to fit over the post. The spring is placed over the end of the post. The small end of the special hammer which comes with the set is then placed over the spring and is given a sharp blow with an ordinary mallet. This secures the bottom part of the snap.
The top half of the snap consists of an eyelet and a cap (fig. 47). The leather is punched and the eyelet is worked through the hole with the help of a pointed bodkin, as shown in the same illustration. This also shows the manner in which the eyelet is placed on the other end of the anvil with the cap over its top. The large end of the special hammer is then placed on the cap and is struck sharply with a mallet, making this part of the fastener secure.
Care must be taken with snap fasteners to place the two halves exactly opposite each other so that they will come together correctly when the flap of the pocket book or key case is closed. For this reason, snap fasteners are not usually set until the article is completely assembled.