For many of us, 2021 has been all about crafting and learning new skills. Crafting helps to relax and de-stress as well as giving that warm glow of achievement! Sara Walker takes a look at the kits available from specialist leather craft company .Ar.ti|sans, who develop their own kits and host events and workshops from their base in East London.
“Here at Cosy Home we’re lucky enough to be able to try lots of different things – but I was really looking forward to this one. As a lifelong horse rider I’ve always been interested in techniques with leather and how it fits together, and I was looking forward to actually learning how to stitch properly. (I don’t think I’ll suddenly be able to do my own tack repairs, but it’s always nice to learn a bit more about how things work!) The kit sent for review was the simple cardholder ‘experience in a box’. This contained everything you need to make a simple cardholder with space for several cards. The kit included pre-cut leather pieces, thread, needles, polishing clothes, clamps and full instructions.
“The kit was beautifully presented, and designed to go through a letterbox so that you could also send it as a gift. Everything was of very high quality. My cardholder was in a pale creamy pink, but there are also two other colours available. I started by unpacking everything and laying it out.
“The first step was to smooth the raw edges of the leather by buffing them with the cloth provided. As instructed I carefully wet the edges first then rubbed them with the cloth. This stage did take a bit of elbow grease, but eventually the edges wore smooth which would give the finished product a neat look.
Ar.ti|sans provide three different colours of thread, which I really liked because it meant I could personalise my cardholder to my taste. After laying the colours out and dithering for a bit, I finally decided on red for contrast. The instructions walked me through measuring two lengths of thread using a ruler and then threading a needle to each end of the first thread, using a special technique to secure the thread.
“Then, I was ready to start stitching! I laid the first two pieces of leather together, put the cloth over the edges to prevent marking and secured them together with the clamp. The instructions gave step-by-step advice about how to start the thread off and use a double-handed stitch (called saddle stitch, although I’m not confident enough to use it on my saddle!). This was a bit fiddly at first and stitching with my left hand took a bit of getting used to.
When I ‘cheated’, though, and did both sides of the stitching alternately using my right hand only, I noticed I had a difference in the thread tension so I unpicked and started again (fortunately .Ar.ti|sans have not been stingy with the thread provided and had put in extra for this eventuality!). It’s definitely worth putting a bit of time into doing it properly.
“Once the first piece was securely attached, I stitched the second piece in place in the same way. Then, I used the cloths again to buff the edges up a bit more. My stitching wasn’t perfect and my lining up was a little wonky, but I was really pleased with the results – it’s sturdy, the leather is lovely quality and it’s a neat, slim shape to slip into a pocket. A ring was also provided so that you could attach a strap or clip to the cardholder, but I decided not to add this on.
“A final little surprise was that the leather thread holder turned out to be a keyring! This was very easy to make up and was a nice little bonus.
.Ar.ti|sans provide a range of leatherwork kits, including this simple cardholder at £25 and a more complicated version at £55. Although the instructions are very clear, there are also guides available on the website. I’d recommend this kit for yourself or a friend if you’d like to have a go at leatherwork – it’s a very satisfying technique and I thought the kits were really nicely presented.”
To find out more, please visit the .Ar.ti|sans website.
Main image: (c) 2021 .Ar.ti|sans. All other images (c) 2021 Write Image for you Media