Working with the hair-on the skin can provide a bit of a challenge, we have put together this guide with a few tips and hints.
Cutting the hide:
Mark your cut line on the back of the hide or skin. Using a sharp fine bladed craft knife very gently slice through just the leather skin part allowing the hairs to part and come away naturally. This will keep the natural ‘fringed’ look to the project. (Tip: it is a good idea to start with a new blade to your knife.)
When adding a piece to the top of a project sometimes the stitching can leave the hide looking uneven, to remedy this use a blunt needle and pull all the hair out from underneath the thread.
It is best to do this quickly before the hair wants to stay distorted. This method is the same whether you are sewing cowhide, sheepskins or rabbit, and is also used for both hand sewing or machine sewing.
Needles and Threads
The thread used needs to have a high tensile strength – the one pictured is Coats Barbour 100% flax (linen) size 25/3) a cc in brown and a natural/white colour. For needles use a diamond tipped leather glovers’ needle size 2, be aware the tips are very sharp.
Useful tools – sharp fine bladed knife such as The Identity Store Precision craft knife, little bulldog clips or quilting clips, strong fine thread (we use Coats Barbour or Somac linen threads), a glovers needle (size #2) or a Saddler’s sharps needle. You will also find a thimble very useful.
Sewing hair-on hides or pelts together: can be sewn together for the best effect as long as the slant of the hair/fur on both parts is lying in the same direction. In addition a colour/pattern and length of hair/fur of both parts match, then a join of several pieces of hair/fur will be imperceptible.
For a very good tutorial on hand stitching pelt to pelt together we suggest this article on Sewway which has very good step by step photos and instructions:
With great thanks to Natalia for taking the time to put this together. See more of her tutorials by following the link above.
Photo credit: http://www.sewway.com
Applique/To stitch a piece of hair on to a piece of leather (for example for a bag flap: make the holes in the leather in the normal way (with a chisel or an awl). On the top side (grain) place a row of narrow double-sided sticky tape and position hair-on piece where you want it to be. Working from the back use the very sharp glovers needle to do back stitch but only carefully picking up the skin of the leather rather than the hairs. Keep checking as you work that you have picked up the skin. Also look at from the front to ensure the stitch has not gone all the way through. If this has happened carefully lift out the hairs with a blunt needle. If you are sewing to a leather piece that is more than 1.5mm in thickness you may find a curved needle works better.
To shop for the leathercraft supplies mentioned click here