For beginners in Leather Craft

There are many people who learn leather crafts these days.

Almost every town has workrooms since there are a few hundred workrooms in Seoul, Korea.

If we walk around Gangnam, Hongdae, Bukchon and Itaewon, we can see beautiful workrooms. We may think ‘it’s cool’ or ‘I want to learn it’ when we see people who are learning or working hard beyond the windows.

And we can see many wonderful works made by people and lots of good information if we search a little bit on the internet.

Some of you, who are reading this article now, may know my crafts by searching.

So, if you make such a small effort, it is easy to learn the leather crafts, and it seems not to be difficult to make it these days.

However,

If you are just beginning to do crafts, it may somewhat difficult.

The terminology of crafts is unfamiliar, there are many techniques and the style of the work is varied.

You may not know where to buy the leather or tools that suit you.

In my case, I searched on the internet and made leather crafts by seeing how to make it on the related internet community site in the beginning. I can’t stop laughing when I see what I made at that time, but I think my passion of that time was bigger than anyone. So I cherish it more than any other works. But I just hide it in the corner so that no one can see it easily.

Leather crafts.

I would like to ask these questions before we go into earnest.

Why do you want to do leather crafts?

1. I want to do it with a hobby.

2. I want to be more professional.

Of course, you can do this as a hobby and gradually become as an expert. But if you think about the values when you start it and set a goal, you can overcome difficulties in the craft life and works and can satisfy your crafts.

The most reason I’m asking this question is because of economic matters.

If you want to do this as a hobby, you can use relatively small number of tools and equipment, but if you want to become an expert, you need to have a variety of tools and equipment. And you also need a room where you can set things up and work on it. Above all, you will have to spend a lot of time and effort to become an expert.

The problem is that if you don’t have any clear goal, you may invest your money and time in spite of yourself and eventually you may just give up. Other hobbies would be the same. If you stop doing it, you will sell tools or equipment with very low price than you originally bought. I always feel sorry about it.

You should know that much investment would be needed if you want to be an expert.

In addition, it is quite difficult to make a profit with leather crafts, so I would like you to think about various bad conditions and situations in advance.

We didn’t even start, but I just said about many worries.

If you set your goal, then can we learn more about leather crafts?

Leather crafts can be divided into several categories.

First, I will divide it into small goods and bags.

Purses and pouches are included in the small goods. And the bag is something with a certain size that can hold such a thing. Or simply, small goods can be defined as something small and need relatively small material and work amount, and the bags are defined as the bigger one.

Second, it can be divided by sewing with hand or machine (We know it as a MISING in Korea, but it is Japanese. MISING is not a correct term).

Third, I can divide it by whether you will use the edge coat with chemical liquid or fold the leather to finish and cover the cross section of the cut leather.

Although there may be more categories, but I would like to explain crafts with above three categories.

In my case,

I stitch with my hand and finish with an edge coat since small goods should be smaller and more elaborate.

For the big bag which needs more work amount, I stitch it with machine and use folding to reduce working time.

If necessary, I stitch with hands the parts that are sophisticate or are difficult to do with machine, and finish it with folding if there is a durability problem in the small goods.

I sometimes finish with edge coat for the bag style although it has a lot of work.

But the important thing is that I can’t say certain method is better or not. It means that stitching with hand is not superior to the machine, or edge coat is not more advanced than folding.

It’s good to chose from a variety of methods depending on the purpose and materials, or the individual’s preference.

Each method has a good point and a difficulty like the two sides of a coin. If you want to apply the edge coat, you have to be precise with the cut and adhesion, and if you want to have a good folding, skiving should be precise.

If one of you wants to be an expert, I recommend you to experience all of the above categories. So it is good to use a variety of techniques, equipment and tools before you decide on your own color and work method.

There is a big difference between not using it with not knowing how to do it and not using it with knowing how to do it.

Therefore, it would be nice if you could look at the whole range and make the works one by one for each category in it.

That is, you can learn it according to the curriculum from small goods to bag, hand stitching to machine, and edge coat to folding.

So, you may start to learn how to make business card wallet with simple pattern, credit card wallet with several patterns, passport case that is used lining and upper and money wallets with folding to learn basic techniques and skills.

Then you can advance to more deepened works such as clutch and zipper wallet, and after that, you can make various small goods with your own design.

For the bigger bags, you need a machine and skiving. This requires bigger equipment and work space rather than hand stitching.

Bags can be divided into “I” pattern, “T” pattern, “U” pattern, “O” pattern, “L” pattern, “M” pattern and “H” pattern.

Then you may divide the works such as

- whether doing out stitching or in stitching.

- what type of stiffener.

- whether you will use lining or not,

- whether you will use leather or fabric for lining.

- whether you will do piping or not, so on.

Once doing these basic works, you can create your own design bags next.

There are many types of bags in the world and a lot of designs come from different fashion brands. But the basis is limited and people are designing based on such basis.

For example, in the case of the famous Kelly bag, the originality and identity of company H are reflected based on the “U“ pattern in which the side part becomes the central pattern of the bag.

But there is one other matter here.

That is the remake or copy of the products of luxury fashion brands.

In fact, there are some workrooms or studios where you can take classes with this remake as a feature.

And some workrooms watch out for these remakes.

Well.

I think it’s clear that we will learn and realize more through these remake process apart from the tremendous legal and moral issues. Those products are made with the materials carefully selected by the luxury goods company and the excellent designers. So you may know the worries, effort and skills they have by just copying them.

It may be a problem if it goes beyond personal learning and is commercially available, but if not, I encourage you to remake it a lot during the learning phase.

Then you will feel the greatness of the golden ratio or pattern you have not found yet.

Lastly,

I will tell you about the leathers that are needed for the base of the small goods and bags. You can prepare some hard vegetable cowhide, soft goat leather and cowhide for easy reversing to do works.

But if it is first time to do crafts or if you are beginner, I recommend you to use better leather. These leathers are excellent in durability, elasticity, gloss and restoring force, so the works will be fine without any additional reinforcement. Most of all, I want you to feel the feeling of good leather.

But you don’t know what leather is good?

It is likely to be good leather if it is expensive in a humurous sense.

And I personally smell it. Good leather has a good smell due to clean processing and storage, but bad leather has a bad smell like petroleum or stink.

The leather expenses were included in the tuition fee for the Firenze leather school ‘La Scuola del Cuoio’, which I went to study abroad. Although they provided not so good leather for student practice, it was much better than leathers in Korea. Above all, each leather had unique and a little fragrant smell, and it seems like it still remains in my nose.

Leather,

If you don’t know about it well, just smell it.

Based on my experience, Butero(from Italy), Crispe goat(from France) and Shrunken leather was good both on the workability and outcomes.

Half of Butero costs about KRW 100,000, Crispe goat coasts about KRW 80,000 and half of domestic Shrunken costs about KRW 100,000.

Since leather crafts are becoming more popular these days, you can get some good leather at a much lower price. You can also buy a small amount since it is divided into appropriate size.

If it is still a little burdensome price for you, you can buy it with people you know and share it in half.

Original leather is somewhat thicker when you buy it at first. The leather can be thinned. That is the entire surface whole skiving by skiving machine which makes entire thickness of the leather up to a certain thickness.

In case of Butero, you can make small goods with 1/3 of leather as 1.2T (thickness unit, equal to mm) and the rest of the leather as 0.7T.

In case of Shrunken, you can make a pouch with original leather without any skiving.

For the additional partial skiving or hand skiving, you can work on it after whole skiving.

As consumable materials, you can prepare Vinimo MBT(from Japan) for thread, Fenice(from Italy) for edge coat, Kenda(from Italy) for glue.

And you can also need zipper slider and puller, zipper stopper, snapping, D-ring and hook and so on.

You can buy these things easily on the internet these days. If you are not familiar with this, you can visit Sinseolodong Leather Market in Korea, since there are many related shops.