Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I am a member of a treasury team on Etsy, and one of my awesome duties is to create treasuries using some of my team members items. I also get to use some of the gorgeous items from gen-pop (general population). And I am featuring my latest treasury. You can click on the picture to check out any of these wonderful items.

Fine-Threadz Treasury 11/29/10

These are a few of my favorites.

Bahama Bracelet in Brass

Croc Embossed Leather Clutch

Polished Stingray Silver Lined Cuff in Aqua





Sunday, November 28, 2010

Japanese Obi Belt

Here are the new Japanese Obi Belts that I have finished making. Brown is great, and of course, it's by far my most popular color, but I wanted to make a couple more in a different color before the holiday rush.
Japanese Obi Belt - Golden Croc

Japanese Obi Belt - Lipstick Red

The gold crocodile is made of a thicker stiffer leather. It also has a distressed gold finish. I love it! It is texturally intriguing. Adds a bit of flash to an outfit without over powering it. It's obviously one of a kind, for now. Don't know if I have enough leather to make another. So this is one that will really make an impact to an outfit. It's in a size x-small to small. 

The red one is a in a softer top grain leather with a pebbly texture. I add a little extra stitching but I didn't put a backing on it. I never line my leathers if I can help it. Can't see a reason too. It's leather. Why try to make it into something else? Anyway I made this one with extra long straps so that you'll be able to have some flexibility as far as how you tie it. 

I guess I'm done for the day. :-)


Glad Thanksgiving is out of the way.

As most of you know, I was really closed to my aunt who passed in Sept. Yeah, we were really close and our one day a year when we got together to do things was always Thanksgiving Day. She'd come over and we would cook, laugh, talk and have a great time. Well this year, I just couldn't do it without her. Other family members tried to engage me in celebrating it, but all I could say was, "No, not without Aunt Arvis! I don't want to do Thanksgiving! I don't want to even talk about it." Perhaps that was a weird way to handle her death, but it felt right at the time. I feel better for totally ignoring Thanksgiving this year in honor of my aunt. Now that I've done that, I feel like I can move on and next year I will do Thanksgiving and give thanks for all those years that I had her in my life. You have 45 Thanksgiving Days with someone and suddenly no more, that's bound to have an impact on anyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Move to Blogger

As you can see I've managed to get most of the move out of the way. I'm still straightening up some things and working to set everything up the way I want it. So far so good. I didn't talk about moving my blog first, but it had been on my mind for weeks. I could never get my WordPress blog to look the way I wanted it to. It's not easy to use and to make any real changes I would have had to learn some more HTML. I just didn't have time for that. So here I am, now on Blogger and I can't believe how user-friendly it is. With a push of a few buttons I can change just about anything on my page. Very easy. No wonder all of my friend's blogs look so great. I was the only one at WP and it showed in the design of my blog there.

So now I'm set up at a new location. Not really a big deal in the grand scheme of thing. Onward and upward.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Simply Must Have It- The Arachne Scarf

I recently featured this seller in one of my Etsy treasuries and I just had to share. The name of the shop is Kteis and she's in Croatia. She has gorgeous gothic items and I would love to have the scarf.

Vampire silk scarf spider web red Victorian fashion- Arachne

Gorgeous! I love the hints of red and black mixed into the scarf with the spiderweb over it.

Ethereal goth silk blouse tank top gray spider web - Arachne

Arachne done is a silk blouse!!!

Goth dress heart silk tunic hand painted designer fashion - Arachne

Check out the hand painted heart!!!!

Steampunk silk tie silver spider web mens fashion

And a silk tie for the man in your life.

Although Kteis' items are very Gothic, any of these items can be worn with everyday fashions and "wow" would be the impact. Imagine how many people would ask where you got such a thing from. I so love being able to say I got if from exotic designer in Europe. Okay, I'm a show off. Sue me. I love unique and the Kteis shop fits the bill for unique. This is where you step out of the mundane and treat yourself with something awesome! Clicking on any of the above pictures will take you directly to her shop, but be sure to drop back by and comment.

I Simply Must Have It - The Arachne Scarf


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to Sew Leather - Project 2 - Leather Pillow

I know everyone has been wondering would I ever get this project finished. Due to the drama I had over getting it closed, I'm way behind and I apologize for that. I'm over it now. Time to move on. In the end, I had to go to the hardware store for masking tape. Note... when you're having problems feeding your leather under the feed dog, cover the leather areas that are touching the machine with masking tape. It'll help it feed smoother. Especially when working with patent leather. You can also use talc as a last resort, but be careful of getting it off into the inner workings of your sewing machine. Please see my previous article before you start.


Two items not mentioned in the previous articles that I use specifically for making pillows are binder clips and synthetic fiberfill. Very easy to get at your local Wal-Mart and / or Office Depot. For sewing a pillow, you must have the  binder clips or something like them. You'll see why. Let's not be anal about the size. Whichever size you think will work for you. I prefer the 3/4 in size because sometimes gluing requires a bit of precision. Just not so much with a leather pillow.  For stuffing you can use synthetic fiberfill or down. I've worked with both and although down feathers are a hassle, the results are amazing. If you decide to work with down feathers, save yourself some trouble and do your pillow stuffing outside in a windless area. Then you don't have to worry about the clean up. (Down vs synthetic fiberfill. Over time synthetic will always compact. Down feathers will never ever compact. )

[caption id="attachment_791" align="aligncenter" width="242" caption="Binder Clips 3/4 in."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_794" align="aligncenter" width="294" caption="Synthetic fiberfill 20 oz."][/caption]

This project is for a leather pillow. I've made mine 16x16 which is 3 and half square feet of leather. Make sure you get extra due to the irregular shape leather comes in.  Remember, you  will need two pieces in what ever size you decide to make. My leather of choice is a red patent leather pigskin. Pigskin is usually thin enough to sew on a regular home sewing machine. The temper of my leather  is medium firm. The great thing about patent leather is that is super easy to clean. Just wipe off. Stain proof and spill proof. Short of dunking it in water, it's waterproof. The finish is waterproof . Don't try dunking it in water as it is not water tight. The bad thing about working with patent is that it is very tacky and may not move well under your sewing machine. A walking foot is a must, but even that is not going to help much. You won't have as much of a problem sewing it up before you stuff, as you will after you stuff it. But even so, it's going to stick. So for your first leather pillow project, I would say, skip the patent leathers. Here's the list of things I used.

leather sewing needle

2 leather squares 16 x 16 in.

contrasting white thread

Elmer's rubber cement

Aleene's all-purpose glue

10 binder clips

synthetic fiberfill or down feathers


Step 1) Cut out two pieces of leather in whatever size pillow you're going to make.

[caption id="attachment_780" align="aligncenter" width="430" caption="2 pieces 16 x 16 in red patent leather"][/caption]

Step 2) Glue suede sides together using the Elmer's rubber glue.  Why the rubber glue? This glue is permanent only when you want it to be. It will hold everything in place until you get your pieces sewn together. That's all you need right now. Without the glue, leather tends to slide and bunch up on itself when sewing it. Don't try to use the Aleene's glue. It's too strong. When you go to try to pull about the excess glued areas from the inside of the pillow,they aren't going to come loose. Pay close attention to gluing the corners and leave an 8 in opening on any one side so that you'll be able to stuff it later. Do not leave a corner open. Let the glue dry at least 3o mins before going to the next step.

[caption id="attachment_781" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Suede side of leather"][/caption]

Step 3) Sew around the entire pillow, starting at where you left the pillow unglued and work your way around to the other side of where you left your opening.  You need to use a leather needle. Set your tension to around 4 and adjust accordingly. I would suggest sewing a test piece first to ensure that your tension is correct. If you're working with pigskin start with a #4 stitch length. If you're using lambskin you can use a smaller stitch length. (Only go with cowhide if it's thin. No thicker than denim or your sewing machine may not be able to handle it.) As you take each of the four corners, be sure to make your turns with the needle down. Go slow. Take your time.  Leather does not forgive like fabric. You don't want to stitch a mistake because the needle holes are forever.

[caption id="attachment_782" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Stitching the corners carefully"][/caption]

Step 4) Be sure to leave an opening about 8 in wide on one side. Note... I put in a lock stitch at both ends of the opening to keep it from spreading while I stuffed the pillow. This is where you need to also take time to trim all three closed edges just to neaten it up. Not too close to the stitch. Run your hand along the inside to pull the glued areas of the pillow loose so that your pillow can be stuffed all the way to the stitching. Here is also the reason you've used Elmer's Rubber Cement. With a little pulling, those over glued areas of the leather will just come loose.

[caption id="attachment_783" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Area left open for stuffing pillow."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_784" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cut edges to neaten it up."][/caption]

Step 4) This is where you add your stuffing of choice.  Stuff to the capacity that you feel comfortable with. Don't over-stuff it. You'll know if you've overstuffed it if you can't get it to close. An overstuffed pillow won't sit up.

[caption id="attachment_785" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Stuffed pillow"][/caption]

Step 5) Add Aleene's glue to the lip opening. Be neat about it. Once you close up using this glue, you won't have a way to pull apart the excess glue from the inside of the pillow. Use the binder clips to hold it closed until dry. Be sure there is no fiberfill sticking out as this will weaken that area and it won't be glue closed correctly.  Don't try to use the Elmer's glue. It's not strong enough to hold the pillow closed while you're sewing it. The Aleene's, once dry will be permanent enough for you to stitch the edge by machine without having the leather sliding on you. Wait an hour before going to the next step.

[caption id="attachment_786" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Glue at the lip of the opening"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_787" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Using binder clips to hold it closed."][/caption]

Step 6) Once the glue is dry, remove the clips and stitch that area closed either by hand or machine. I usually stitch it closed with the machine, but this is not always easy to do due to the bulk of the pillow. Use whichever method you think will work best for you. As you know, I was working with patent leather so I had a very hard time getting it closed. Ultimately, I had to use masking tape to smooth the feed. See my article on that particular update.


[caption id="attachment_788" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Trying to sew the damn thing closed!!!!"][/caption]

Step 7) If you got your closed easily and smoothly... well you're ahead of me. After screaming, throwing my hands up and turning my back on the issue for over a week, I finally got up the nerve to finish it. After you get it closed, be sure to trim that last side so it's nice and neat. Mine didn't come out as nice as I'd hoped, but the hell with it. I've got  other stuff to do! LOL!

[caption id="attachment_795" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Closed, trimmed and neatened up!"][/caption]

Project is done. As always, if I've forgotten to add something, please let me know. And to see the pillow, listed on Etsy .... Feel free to buy it! LOL!

Now that I've finally got that super easy project out of the way, I think I'm finished with my How to Sew Leather series for a while. Right now I'm working on a leather jacket. I bought this white lambskin leather direct from my contact, Fadi, in Italy a few months ago and never got around to working on it till now. Now that I've got it all cut out and I'm sewing the pieces, I should be finished in a week. I'll be sure to add pictures to my blog so that you all can see it for yourselves.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

That Patent Leather Pillow is Driving Me Crazy!

Status report.

I still haven't managed to close up that red leather pillow, so I can't really finish the lesson on it. What's the problem? Well I'd like to close it up neat enough to impress my readers, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen. Closing up a leather pillow is hard enough. Really. But to close a patent leather pillow is a lot harder. Patent leather is tacky, so when you run it under a sewing machine, it tends to stick to the plastic and it won't run smoothly. I've always used a bit of talc powder to alleviate that tackiness, but I don't use much for fear of getting it into the working parts of my machines and ruining them. So in the end, it didn't run under the feed dog as smoothly as I'd hoped and the stitch is messy. Usually I'd say screw it, neaten it up as much as I can and sell it. Never once had a customer complain. One look at it and they can pretty much tell why it's like that. Plus, they just don't care about stuff like that. If it's neatened up, hard to see without close analysis, customers tend to say "screw it" too. LOL!  I've been lucky.

[caption id="attachment_774" align="aligncenter" width="502" caption="Industrial sewing machine with post"][/caption]

I really should have gotten the industrial sewing machine with the post. This is the type of machine they use to make leather boots, hats and handbags. Big bulky items. I have 8 different sewing machine, but never enough of them. I'm always buying one more that will handle a new function. I hesitated getting one sent from Canada last year and now I regret it. The one pictured above cost $1200. And sad to say, it wouldn't be the most expensive machine in my collection if I were to buy it. This girl takes the tools of her trade seriously! One look at it and you see why I'm knocking myself around for not getting it. It would easily sew around a bulky pillow and never miss a beat. Tackiness wouldn't be an issue because there wouldn't be any contact with the machine except for right under the feed dog. Add a walking foot and there you go.




Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Sew Leather - Project 1 - Japanese Obi Belt

I had to do a bit of revising to this article! A reader brought it to my attention that certain info was missing, like what tension setting, stitch length, etc. Dah! Of course I should have mentioned all this. Just like I said in the very first article. I would probably miss things like that because my machine is already set to the heavy stuff and I rarely think about it. So let's go over this one more time. Or as many times as needed so that everyone gets a better idea of how to sew leather.

This lesson is going to jump off assuming you've already got all of the things you'll need to sew leather from an earlier article in my blog. So for this project we have some pebble grained leather. You are using a leather needle only. This is how to make a Japanese Obi Belt. It's very easy to make. If you managed to get a piece of lambskin or pigskin and it's softer than you'd like it to be, it's okay to add a stiff interfacing or fabric backing if you like. Since I'm using cowhide to demonstrate this project, it's already as stiff as I'd like it to be. Keep in mind, my sewing machine is an industrial model, so it can sew thicker leathers. It's already set for leather and has an automatic tension. If you're using a home machine, you might want to stick with the softer leathers that I mentioned in my first article. This lesson will also assume you know how to sew.  This belt will fit a size S to M.

There are many ways to make an obi belt. I encourage you to explore other ways to make your belt in a design that suits your style. Me. I don't embellish leather much.  I rarely use linings or backings. I prefer it raw and natural looking. However, once you're gotten the gist of it, seen how easy it is to do, you can embellish with leather flower, metal studs or even buttons to achieve different looks.

Here I have cut out 4 pieces of leather.

4 x 4 in square     4 x 24 in rectangle  (2) 1 x 24 in strips

Cut the 4 x 4 square on the diagonal. Now you have two triangles that go on each end of the 4 x 24 in rectangle.

One triangle is glued all the way across the end of the rectangle. Use the Aleene's glue for this project.

For the second triangle, you want to leave an 1 1/2 in gap in the middle that your strips can fit through.

Try to be neat with the glue but don't worry about the excess right now. Make sure that the triangle is overlapping the 4 x 24 in rectangle. This is where we will make our nice neat connections with the sewing machine.

Now glue the 1 x 24 in strips to both end points on the belt. Make sure the point is overlapping the strip just as the triangle is also overlapping 4 x 24 in rectangle.

I was working on two different belts at the time. .

Now you can cut off those funny little tips at both ends of the triangle to make everything flush even.

Here's where I sewed the leather strip to the point in a triangle formation, just to be sure it was secure and supported on all sides. Start your tension at 3 or 4 and try sewing a test piece first. Notice if it looks great on the top and loopy at the bottom, increase your tension in increments until the loopy bottom goes away and you have a nice even stitch on both side. For sewing most leathers you really want to use a larger stitch length, 3 to 4 is the range I stay in. Any lower and you may cause the leather to perforate and it may split over time. Any higher and the thread may loosen over time. Be sure that your glue is completely dry before you begin stitching as it will gum up your needle and thread causing your stitches to look shabby. As for speed. Set your machine to the lowest speed until you get a feel for the particular type of leather you're working with. It's important to be patient and go slow because any needle hole you put in leather is in there forever. So this has to be done right the first time. If your leather is thick and your sewing machine is not industrial or industrial strength, you may have to go a little bit faster just in hopes that your machine will have the strength to pierce a thicker leather. Two factors will help. Completely dry glue will act as a stabilizer giving you smoother stitching. And a leather needle is a must in this situation.

Here's where I closed up one of the points leaving that 1 1/2 area opened for the strip to fit through.

On this end I sewed the entire side closed. Only one side will need a slit for the strip to fit through. It doesn't matter which side you choose.This is where you can also take a moment to fit the belt and adjust the strips to a shorter length as needed.

You're almost done. All you need to do now is a finish. Here's where you cut off all the excess threads and pull away all the dried up glue.  The glue was used to hold everything in place so that you could sew it evenly. Once you put in the stitching, the thread will hold everything in place, so do a good clean up job on the dried glue.

[caption id="attachment_736" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="Japanese Obi Belt - Bittersweet Chocolate"][/caption]

Here's what one of my belt look like once finished. Gorgeous. You can click on this picture to see it on my site.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. As you can see, this doesn't take a lot of leather to make, but I did used a high-end leather because I wanted something with a gorgeous grain. Even though the picture shows two different leathers, how I made this belt was the same for both of them.

One last tip about sewing with leather... I have been able to surge the edges, using my serger sewing machine, of the thinner leathers like lambskin and pigskin. It usually will cost me a needle or two in the process, so have extras on hand if you're the courageous sort that will dare anything. (like me). Just be aware that it could actually perforate the leather and split over time. Be sure that you use Aleene's glue as a stabilizer. This may help offset future splitting and make the entire seam stronger. Thank you.