Author Topic: Every Man A Cobbler; Gussying Up A Low Cost Belt Pouch  (Read 804 times)

Offline thecapgunkid

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Every Man A Cobbler; Gussying Up A Low Cost Belt Pouch
« on: June 17, 2023, 06:55:15 PM »
Maybe you’re banging around Sutlers Row at an event and see something that strikes your fancy and you figure with a little work it’d look nice, or maybe you just need something to do until Monday Night Football comes around again.  Maybe you’re just tired of being in camp and wondering where your keys and wallet are. Time for a quick project.
It’s  called…”Yellowstone Belt Bag”… from the folks at Crazy Crow dot com.  It was pretty cheap and basically nice looking.  It  hit me at a time when I was wondering what to do with my possibles when sitting on site making shoes when the weather is too hot to wear my deep-pocketed weskit, or whether I was walking around shopping at a gun show or rendezvous. 
Out comes the cobbler instinct.  For this project buying  a low priority pouch like this is cheaper than making from scratch and much of the work is already done .
It kinda tickled me and had lots of room for improvement. It’s OK for a belt bag as is, but it looks like everybody else’s belt bag.  So, this is a brief study of techniques and use of my hand stitching and Chinese Patcher to make the pouch a little distinctive. This is not gonna be a museum piece.  Strictly utilitarian with a little individuality.



Out of the plastic bag, it is a decent little product, albeit  Factory or a Cabelas in appearance.  The leather  seems to be a split off the back of a thick veg tanned hide, so it is stiff.  The color looks like it is painted  rather than dyed.    If it has one flaw, it’d be that the assembly process did not include sufficiently skiving (tapering) the edges when front, side wall and back were machine stitched.




What this produces is a bulky turn so that the bulk of the gusset ( or bag side) limits the roominess.  I suppose I could have soaked the thing and shoved in a Pine form to stretch and shape it, but that’d be no fun.  The first thing to do it take apart the seams.




Take note of the machine spaced sewing holes.  That’s important when you put the bag back together whether you work by hand or with a machine.  Now  skive, or taper, the edges of the gusset ( side piece) and face piece of the pouch.  Other…” Every Man…”…  posts cover how to do this…




As stated  this bag  has to have the look of something out of the ordinary.    The first thing I always do is to trim the throat into an opening that makes it easier to get in and out of the pouch.



This is best done by making an oak-tag copy for a pattern before you cut.

Before re-assembling the bag,  make sure that the end result will be something you want it to be.  In this case, this pouch  is strictly a belt bag with possibles in it.  I want it roomy yet compact,  which is why I picked this product from the Crazy Crow Suite.
 
Generally on a pouch there are two types of seam; a folded or…”turned”…seam ( sewn inside out and turned right) or a flat seam, where the two edges are simply positioned together and stitched closed. The next photo gives an idea of managing a seam when you are repairing or doing what we are doing here.   Here the pouch is clipped together for two flat seams...a sure way to take advantage of the gusset.




When lining up the seams again, after skiving, it may be helpful to use some spare needles to line up the holes  as you glue the seam.  If you work carefully enough, and are using contact cement or an instant bond, you can line up all the original holes all the way around the seam. Whether or not you are using glue, a small army of butterfly clips can sometimes be indispensable to keep your alignment…especially if you are working with a machine. 

If you have the holes aligned and are using a machine,  lining up the holes makes a great deal of difference in re-assembly.  Every machine will have an adjustment in the footer that will regulate the length of each stitch to match the specimen;




You can match the length of stitch on your machine with the length of stitch on the original pouch. It is one whale of a lot easier when re-stitching around a curve.
On this pouch, however, I elected to close it a different way.  On the back wall of the pouch, I first added another pouch.  That’ll house my phone.  We all know how we gotta protect our phones so I want it separate.



To make sure the pouch  stays open, I stitched the front wall with a turn seam  (1) and the back seam with a flat seam(2).  if  I decide to replace the obvious machine stitches with hand stitches, everything is already lined up.




Of course this is not a true period piece because of the machine stitching, on the other hand there is a lot of room to make the off-the-shelf product a little distinctive. Since the eye travels to the flap on a pouch first, that becomes the most prominent area to individualize.  Rather than  gussy up the original flap,  You might consider adding to it.  Maybe even overlay it entirely.  For one thing, a heavier flap is more conducive to staying closed.  You might even consider cutting a pattern into the added front piece piece so that the original flap becomes a good backer…hearts, hunters star, whatever.
Then there’s the seam.  In this case I engaged what I have heard described as a chain stitch, a back stitch, or a braid stitch.  It is simple enough to do.

  • Whether thread or sinew, cut a long piece four times the length of the seam at least.

    Using only one needle, come up through the first hole.

    Instead of going back down through the second hole, go back down through the third hole
    .
    Then go back and come up through the second hole that you just skipped.    Every time you bring the needle back up through the hole you skipped, keep it between the thread and the edge.

This makes an attractive albeit delicate decorative touch , and will also work with lacing.




When you’re done, you have added some value to a typical product and made it distinctive.  As an alternative You might even have gotten a can of spray adhesive and lined it with canvas or denim.  That’s not to mention the pleasure of practicing the craft.




The original finish on the front face of the pouch is gonna show dozens of tiny wrinkles and cracks and surface splits over time because of the original finish, and the flap I made is going to fade and discolor over time the way oil tan does to get a patina. 

From Soup to Nuts this whole project took place in one afternoon, about a couple of labor hours less than making from scratch and maybe  a little less than buying leather.  The biggest reason for me to do it this way ( but not necessarily for anyone else) was the fact that the stitching was so much faster with the Patcher and the existing holes.  Just north of the button on the left you can see where I slipped one stitch for the mistake, because only God is perfect.  That’s the eye of a Cobbler.

Offline TDM

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Re: Every Man A Cobbler; Gussying Up A Low Cost Belt Pouch
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2023, 04:18:37 AM »
A true silk purse out of a sows ear. Nice work.

Offline Brokennock

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Re: Every Man A Cobbler; Gussying Up A Low Cost Belt Pouch
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2023, 03:13:13 PM »
Well done.
Question though.
For those without a machine, how do we deal with the machine stitch holes? Once the original seam is ripped, are the holes obvious enough to work with? Should one repoke each hole with the diamond awl to get the correct hole shape?

On a similar note, what about when reworking a bag someone else hand stitched, but poked the holes too big in order to use large thread (almost string) and at an odd soacing?

Offline thecapgunkid

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Re: Every Man A Cobbler; Gussying Up A Low Cost Belt Pouch
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2023, 04:53:23 PM »
Broke;

Thanks to you and TDM.

The machine holes IF EXPOSED TO VIEW and you want a better look, should be expanded. You might want to taper the thread ends and use finer needles.

There are three rules for being a Cobbler;

1.  Use authentic/quality materials
2. Follow your instincts and judgement
3.There aren't any rules

When you get that other guys bag, where the holes are wonky, I would advise you to do what Cobblers did on shoes; downsize the piece and stitch the right way.

...'Course, you gotta post pictures...

Offline Brokennock

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Re: Every Man A Cobbler; Gussying Up A Low Cost Belt Pouch
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2023, 12:09:42 AM »
Thanks.
Sorry. No pics available. That project is long gone.
And,,, I have to admit it was a failure on my part.
But, I think we learn more from failures than success.