Don't like ads? Help support the Mercs by becoming a Supporter or Auxiliary Member today!
Official Members also get to use the forum ad-free - so kit up and join us!

Type of leather for vest

  • 8 Replies
  • 295 Views
Type of leather for vest
« on: Aug 12, 2017, 08:35 PM »
Is there a specific type of leather recommended for making the vest? I was pointed in the direction of Tandy Leather and I'm not sure what I should be looking for. Tandy, oily, deerskin, etc? What do you guys think?

https://www.tandyleather.com/en/category/leather
Logged

*

grantaire

  • *
  • *
  • *
  • 1126
  • Steve Buscemi rhymes with Mom's Spaghetti
  • Awards Award for 10 official invasions. Hard Contact - Clan with the most recorded invasions Recruitment - Clan with the largest number of new OM's in 12 months
Re: Type of leather for vest
« Reply #1 on: Aug 18, 2017, 04:23 PM »
Perhaps you already know this but you don't have to make your vest out of leather. Most members usually make vests out of duck cloth or marine grade vinyl simply because it's a more affordable option. The few members I know who did make vests out of leather simply altered thrifted leather jackets. I hope this helps!

*

Torolf Goran

  • Formerly "Torolf"
  • *
  • *
  • 495
  • Ijaat, Verbur, Allit
  • Awards Clan with the largest number of new OM's in 12 months Shock Infantry Brigade Member
Re: Type of leather for vest
« Reply #2 on: Aug 18, 2017, 11:59 PM »
If you do go with real leather you'd want garment grade. Tandy is the way to go and I'd recommend full grain pigskin or suede. You can also use a used leather jacket if you can find one.
Logged
Bes'uliik Clan - Arkansas   OM #1545
M.M.R.S. - 001 (founder), W.B. - 003, M.L.C.S. - 011, L.O.B. - 015, M.A. - 072
Official Invasions: 10

*

Straka Zulu

  • Formerly 'STRAKAZulu'
  • *
  • 3769
  • Aliit Ori'Shya Tal'Din
  • Awards Hard Contact - Clan with the most recorded invasions Celebration Orlando 2017
Re: Type of leather for vest
« Reply #3 on: Aug 19, 2017, 12:10 AM »
If you are on a budget, get a jacket from a thrift store.  My current vest is made from one, and the extra (sleeves) can be used for other parts of the kit.
Logged
MMCC # 1126, W.B. #000 (founder), MAJIC #152, M5SP #19, L.O.B. #5, S.O.S. #007, MIB #13, QMU Support #44, Draluram #006

Re: Type of leather for vest
« Reply #4 on: Aug 24, 2017, 10:11 PM »
If you are on a budget, get a jacket from a thrift store.  My current vest is made from one, and the extra (sleeves) can be used for other parts of the kit.

In a nutshell, how do you make that work seeing as they would have zippers, pockets, etc?
Logged

*

Straka Zulu

  • Formerly 'STRAKAZulu'
  • *
  • 3769
  • Aliit Ori'Shya Tal'Din
  • Awards Hard Contact - Clan with the most recorded invasions Celebration Orlando 2017
Re: Type of leather for vest
« Reply #5 on: Aug 24, 2017, 10:16 PM »
Those kinds of things can be hidden, either behind the armor plates, or behind strips of leather.  My vest had buttons, so, after I removed those, I use velcro to close it.
Logged
MMCC # 1126, W.B. #000 (founder), MAJIC #152, M5SP #19, L.O.B. #5, S.O.S. #007, MIB #13, QMU Support #44, Draluram #006

Re: Type of leather for vest
« Reply #6 on: Aug 24, 2017, 10:23 PM »
Those kinds of things can be hidden, either behind the armor plates, or behind strips of leather.  My vest had buttons, so, after I removed those, I use velcro to close it.

Gotcha...I'll keep that in mind. Thanks!
Logged

*

OriKad

  • *
  • *
  • *
  • 2193
  • Cat#: 0233
  • Awards Special Weapons Recruitment - Clan with the largest number of new OM's in 12 months Award for 10 official invasions. 267th Rapid Assault Hard Contact - Clan with the most recorded invasions
Re: Type of leather for vest
« Reply #7 on: Aug 25, 2017, 11:31 AM »
My leather vest and kama are made of mission grain pigskin lining.  They've held up well for over 8 years of trooping.
Logged

Re: Type of leather for vest
« Reply #8 on: Aug 28, 2017, 09:59 PM »
Is there a specific type of leather recommended for making the vest? I was pointed in the direction of Tandy Leather and I'm not sure what I should be looking for. Tandy, oily, deerskin, etc? What do you guys think?

https://www.tandyleather.com/en/category/leather
SHORT ANSWER:

You want a bend or side of 3-4 oz,  Chromate tanned, annaline dyed, natural grainside or top grain, cowhide or pigskin, of sufficient size to accommodate your  pattern.

Leather is sold in ft^2. To convert yardage to ft^2 use the following formula:

[square feet of leather]=1.2 * 3 * [pattern yardage(in yards)] * [fabric width (in inches)]/12

You will need a heavy duty sewing machine capable of sewing with at least upholstery thread if not button and craft thread, outfitted with a leather needle, and a walking foot or roller or Teflon presser foot (Scotch tape on the bottom of a standard foot works too!).

You will also need contact cement to press open your seams, binder clips in lieu of pins, beeswax to wax your thread, washable markers to lay out your pattern and a good pair of heavy duty scissors for cutting the leather. You will likely need to replace your good fabric shears if you use them to cut leather. 

LONG ANSWER:

Making a garment from leather is not a project that should be undertaken lightly. While there are a great many similarities to working with cloth, the differences are significant enough  that a good deal of research should be done before deciding to proceed.

Leather is not cloth. It cannot be cut like cloth, handled like cloth, or sewn like cloth.  The differences are all related to the fact that leather was once serving an entirely different purpose, namely covering some animal or another and keeping the insides of that animal from becoming its outsides and vice versa. This means it once had a three dimensional shape entirely different from whatever shape we might want to impose upon it for our own use.

Unlike cloth which has a uniform grain, animal skin consists of protein fibers called collagen this collagen varies in thickness, density and direction. It is these variations that give an animal skin its shape and causes leather to behave more like felt which has been unevenly steamed . The object of the hide tanning and processing is to preserve the hide and remove the original shape  by stretching it and making it as flat as possible. However this only gives the hide an appearance of flatness. it leaves the fibers stretched in some places and more relaxed in others. This must be kept in mind when laying out and cutting the pattern pieces of a garment. A skilled leather crafter will consider the hide's natural shape when cutting a pattern. A garment whose pieces are cut without this in mind may alter in shape over time as the fibers of the garment resist or stretch with the weight, wear and tear of the garment.  All leather will do this to some extent, but in general "Chromate"  tanned leather behaves better for garments. 

Leather is sold in several cuts. Whole hide is exactly what it says on the tin. The entire hide of the animal. A side is a whole hide that has been cut in half along the length of the animal. This is the most common cut for most garment leather. A shoulder is exactly that the portion of the hide that was over the front quarter of the animal. A double shoulder is both sides. A butt is the same type of cut but comes from the hindquarters. A belly is the long portion from the edge of a side cut from between the legs. A bend is the relatively rectangular section of a side left over when the shoulder belly and (sometimes) butt have been cut away. A double bend is the equivalent cut from a whole hide. In general purchasing a side is best it gives you the most choices in laying out your pattern, while a bend or double bend because of its rectangular shape most closely resembles a bolt of cloth. Shoulders, butts and bellies generally do not have enough square footage for a garment and are used for smaller projects.

Leather thickness is measured in oz. in general leathers 4 oz and less are used in making garments. Heavier weights would find uses in costuming for pouches, belts, holsters and even armor. However, heavier leathers require additional skills and special tools to shape and sew. Their use is well beyond the scope of this particular  wall of text. Leather can be either full thickness or a split. A split provides a uniform thickness and can include the grainside, can be treated to look like the grain side (not desirable) or turned into a "rough out" leather like suede.

For garments, natural grain, top grain, milled leather or suede is used. Suede requires a good deal of extra care and attention. Annaline dyed leather uses a dye that preserves the natural surface of the leather and penetrates to the full thickness of the hide. Pigmented leather is used for upholstery, fashion garments, and is treated with a heavy surface treatment which provides uniform color and texture. This coating does not breathe and is difficult to remove completely. You do not want this type of leather if you are planning on weathering your kit as it takes more time and energy to distress evenly. The coating can be removed with rubbing alcohol, acetone or lacquer thinner. It is best to do this before you cut out your pattern pieces as these chemicals can alter the structure of the leather. 

Leather does not sew like cloth. Once you put a hole in leather it is there forever. This means that you generally do not use pins to hold your seam together for sewing. Glue, or binder clips can be used to hold your seams in lieu of pins. Sewing leather requires a special needle with a cutting tip to pierce the hide, a deep groove along its length to accommodate the passage of thread through the hole and a notch to allow for close passage of the bobbin shuttle. If your stitches are too close together your needle will end up perforating or cutting the leather rather than binding it. Your stitch length must be set longer Your stitch length must be set longer. Depending on the thickness of the leather, a stitch length of 6-10 stitches per inch will usually work well. Leather is pretty tough so the good news is you can reduce your seam allowances to almost nothing provided your stitches are long enough. I have seen kid gloves with seam allowances smaller than 1/16". This property allows for close clipping of corners and seams. Because of the thickness of leather this is  essential for allowing seams to lay flat in a finished garment.   

 A heavy duty sewing machine is required for all but the thinnest of leathers. A leather, canvas or industrial machine is best followed by vintage mechanical machines with metal gears. Most high quality machines will perform well enough for standard seams in leather of less than 4oz. thickness. However this is NOT a job for the machine you bought at Walmart on sale for $99. It is the PERFECT job for the 400 lb. cast iron sewing machine you inherited from your grandmother that she used to stitch together the armor of  Sherman Tanks during WWII.

Actually sewing leather is like sewing rubber. It sticks to your needle, thread and to your presser foot. Without some type of feeding assistance your thread will bind in the seam and the workpiece will fail to advance leading to your stitches stacking on top of one another.  A presser foot with rollers or a Teflon soled presser foot will both work. A walking foot which grabs and pulls  the fabric works as well. A walking foot which simply moves with the fabric, less so. Another handy trick as a last resort is putting a strip of Scotch tape on the bottom of your presser foot, this will allow your regular presser foot to perform almost as well as a Teflon foot.

A word on thread: The increased stitch length required when sewing leather means that you must use a thicker thread to provide the same seam strength. Using upholstery thread, or button and craft thread is recommended.  Because leather is sticky and tends to close up around the thread, both the top or bottom thread may bind inconsistently leading to ugly stitching. Using waxed thread, or waxing your own thread by running your thread over a beeswax block while winding your own spool of top thread onto a spare bobbin can help. You can wax your bobbin thread this way as well. The wax will build up in the top thread tension mechanism so this works best in a machine with an external top thread tensioner or one where the internal friction device can be easily accessed for cleaning. While on the subject of tenson, the thickness and stickiness of the leather, and the thick top and bottom thread means that you will have to adjust the tension of your top thread to achieve a balanced stitch. 

Leather is not really suitable for a first sewing project. If you are a novice sewer, get some help from a clanmate who has experience sewing leather or similar material and take it slow. Leather presents some challenges but they are easily overcome with patience and research. Sewing leather can be incredibly humbling and satisfying all at once. With proper care and technique you can make a beautiful piece that will last forever.
« Last Edit: Aug 30, 2017, 02:35 PM by DocJancsi » Logged
First Build Work in Progress: Jancsi Armor Concept

 


Don't like ads? Help support the Mercs by becoming a Supporter or Auxiliary Member today!
Official Members also get to use the forum ad-free - so kit up and join us!




Powered by EzPortal