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Any leatherworkers on here? Saddles, leather bar wraps

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Any leatherworkers on here? Saddles, leather bar wraps

Old 09-15-18, 02:07 PM
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Any leatherworkers on here? Saddles, leather bar wraps



Iím planning on adding a custom leather bar wrap to a 1973 Raleigh Super Coarse. Other than just wrapping the bars in a contrasting brown veg tan leather to match the original Coffee colored paint on the SC, Iíd like add custom stitch work to complement the lug work.

The plan is to use 5oz. veg tan leather for the bar wrap and cut out a small section of leather to match the lug work then stitch that onto the leather wrap. Ill need to do some practice pieces till I find one that looks best wrapped on the bar. It will take a few tries before I choose one, then Iíll pick one and do a complete leather bar wrap.
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Old 09-15-18, 08:17 PM
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Nice work..please post the final result.
Best, ben
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Old 09-15-18, 11:01 PM
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The first one didnít turn out as good as I expected. When lacing it on the bar, the added thickness of the stitched on lug work pattern proved to be too thick.
So I made a second test piece in a dark brown to show the difference. I cut out the lug pattern design a little shorter so that it wouldnít interfere when lacing it together on the bar. Came out much cleaner.
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Old 09-16-18, 05:37 AM
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Interesting work! Always wondered how steering wheels were stitch wrapped.

is it worth wetting the leather before lacing it on? Haven't tried wrapping anything other than short lengths of tube but it seems to shrink into form a bit smoother as it dries.
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Old 09-16-18, 07:22 AM
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I always find leather to be a perfect finishing tough for vintage bikes. I wrap some around my frame anywhere I have a clamp on (bike lock holder, bottle dyno etc.) To prevent paint damage.
I love the look of handlebar wraps. Do you find the leather is thick enough to dissipate the road vibrations? I've always wondered that about full leather wraps.
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Old 09-16-18, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Buellster View Post
I always find leather to be a perfect finishing tough for vintage bikes. I wrap some around my frame anywhere I have a clamp on (bike lock holder, bottle dyno etc.) To prevent paint damage.
I love the look of handlebar wraps. Do you find the leather is thick enough to dissipate the road vibrations?
I think you partially answered your own question. Iím no expert but more of a visual observer. I also like the look of leather on a vintage bike, seams like it goes well.
Like leather chaps when riding a Harley, itís not intended for padding but will protect your skin from road rash.

What about all those Brooks leather saddles, Not one lick of padding at all. First time I used a brooks leather saddle it almost killed me, then I found out you wear padded bike shorts if you want any comfort. So Iím just guessing if one doesnít want to feel the road vibration on your hands, wear padded bike gloves.

Itís Just a guess and Iíll let someone who has been riding with a complete leather bar wrap chime in.

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Old 09-16-18, 02:53 PM
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My understanding of the principle of a Brooks saddle is that it will over time mold to your body shape. The thick vegetable tanned leather is very stiff. With riding, it will slowly be shaped with the pressure exerted by your 'sit bones' and with the moisture from your body. Once all the hard contact points have been shaped it then becomes 'your saddle'; comfortable for your body and your riding position. This shape is then maintained due to the use of the vegetable tanned leather and sparing treatment with Proofide.
You don't break-in a Brooks saddle, you ride it and it to form to you.
This is why excessive use or the application of the wrong conditioner will work against this objective.

I agree with the suggestion to immerse the handlebar leather in tepid water for 20 min and then let the damp leather rest before installation. The wet leather stretches when wet and then shrinks tight around the bars when dry. You might need to adjust your width.
You may find this thread of interest
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Old 09-16-18, 05:28 PM
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Nice work....now on to the whole bar!
Best, Ben
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Old 09-16-18, 05:50 PM
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Instead if the second layer, why not just stitching or embossing to echo the lug lines?
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Old 09-16-18, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
Instead if the second layer, why not just stitching or embossing to echo the lug lines?
After making this small sample, thats what Iím thinking. Just stitch the design like they do on a pair of cowboy boots. The lug work design will look cleaner and less bulky. Iíll see what I can come up with by tomorrow.

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Old 09-16-18, 06:36 PM
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I'd echo the one layer. Two diameters could cause discomfort, a stress riser of sorts.
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Old 09-16-18, 06:59 PM
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What kind of needle do you use to stitch the leather on the bars ??

I had to cut off leather bar wrap, but saved the leather in case I want to stitch it back on another build some day.
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Old 09-16-18, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
What kind of needle do you use to stitch the leather on the bars ??

I had to cut off leather bar wrap, but saved the leather in case I want to stitch it back on another build some day.
Iíve been using a saddlers harness needle sized 1/0 made by John James. These are straight needles, not curved but work well.

For thread, I used what I have, bonded nylon sized 346 thread.
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Old 09-16-18, 10:20 PM
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I trimmed it down and wet the veg tan leather before sewing it on.
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Old 09-16-18, 10:28 PM
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Great project! I can see the concern of the accent patch being a little to substantial. At the same time, I must be honest, I like the look of it moreso than just the handstitched pattern on the leather. I'm wondering if one idea may be to meet in the middle - still hand sew on an accent patch, but make it something thinner, like a 2oz goatskin or pigskin patch to contrast. That way it won't stick out so much and be lumpy, but will still give a clean edge. I like the second leather piece more than just stitching on the single piece because the additional leather gives a 3D effect, and mimics the visual impact of the actual 'second layer' of lugs on the bicycle, over the tubing. Going slightly tighter on your stitch count may also tighten up the pattern. Are you using a pricking tool or freehanding it with an awl?

Keep it coming, I'm loving what I'm seeing! Very creative!

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Old 09-17-18, 12:44 AM
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IMO, The fisrt one is more aesthetically pleasing to me but perhaps a little too thick...any chance to reduce the backside a little? The second one loses the definition of the form and seems more crude in execution.
Ben
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Old 09-17-18, 06:31 AM
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Just my $.02. I prefer the first one that has the “lug”. To me, it gives the impression and relation to the actual lugs better than just sewing the pattern.
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Old 09-17-18, 07:17 AM
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Cool concept, and it looks like its getting there.

I went the route of creating bar wrap and lever covers out of similar weight leather about a year ago.











At some point, I suspect I will attempt another project, but if I do, I think I will go with 2-3 ounce leather, or pig skin, or goat skin for the project.

Stitching is something that vexes me to the point that I think I would rather attempt to either emboss or burn in a decorative pattern.
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Old 09-17-18, 08:35 AM
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I did this leather wrap for the bars and brakes a few years ago...



I recovered the saddle, as well. I've done a lot of saddles.
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Old 09-17-18, 08:58 AM
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After making these two samples, I also agree that the lug design needs to be defined and be more 3D. So itís back to the original idea.
I have a bunch of scrap veg tan leather pieces in different weights, mostly 8-10oz thick. Iíll rummage through and see if I have anything in the 2-3oz. thickness.
Iím thinking the end result will be a contrasting leather lug pattern design color on a lighter leather bar wrap. This time using same color thread (brown) to the stitch the brown color lug design.

Iím using an industrial heavy duty sewing machine that doesnít like to sew thin stuff. Iíll need to order thinner thread and the smallest gauge needle this machine can handle. Just to give you an example of the thickness of this 138 size thread and 22 size needle Iím using to stitch the lug design.
Auto leather upholstery is sewn with a medium duty upholstery sewing machine using a 69 size thread and a much thinner needle. This 138 sized thread is twice the thickness so itís twice as strong.
So Iíll need a thinner needle to be able to get a tighter stitch per inch count. The stitch per inch count can only go so low before it starts to puch holes so close together that itís basically cutting leather and not sewing.

The thinnest thread Iíve used on this heavy duty sewing machine has been 96 thread. I know I have some 96 thread laying around but itís not in a color Iíd like to use on this project. Guess Iíll use what I have to make another sample and see if the results improve.
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Old 09-17-18, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
I did this leather wrap for the bars and brakes a few years ago...



I recovered the saddle, as well. I've done a lot of saddles.


What ounce size leather did you use on the bars? Are you using 10oz or 12oz on the saddles?
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Old 09-17-18, 09:15 AM
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Pretty cool project. Coming along nicely. Just a suggestion but if you wanted it to look a little more "tight" and also preserve the stitches better, you might consider
using a stitch groover on the leather, prior to punching your holes and stitching. Something like this, although I have one that does not have the adjustable gauge
attachment and is just run free hand.
https://www.amazon.com/Tandy-Leather.../dp/B004NEEYII

This allows the stitching to sit at or just below the surface of the leather and makes for a more professional looking result. Also, you can layout your design more precisely.
The only other touch I would add is beveling and finishing your edges with burnishing, using edge dressing or wax or something else.

Neat project. What brand and model sewing machine are you using?
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Old 09-17-18, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Chriscraft760 View Post




What ounce size leather did you use on the bars? Are you using 10oz or 12oz on the saddles?
The bar wrap was horse hide. Springfield Leather had it as a special. I don't remember what weight they said it was, but I'll guess 6 oz.

For saddles I use sole bend leather. The thickness varies from 12oz or less to well over 16 oz in places. Sometimes it may reach 20 oz, but that depends on how much it has been compressed.
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Old 09-17-18, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
Pretty cool project. Coming along nicely. Just a suggestion but if you wanted it to look a little more "tight" and also preserve the stitches better, you might consider
using a stitch groover on the leather, prior to punching your holes and stitching. Something like this, although I have one that does not have the adjustable gauge
attachment and is just run free hand.
https://www.amazon.com/Tandy-Leather.../dp/B004NEEYII

This allows the stitching to sit at or just below the surface of the leather and makes for a more professional looking result. Also, you can layout your design more precisely.
The only other touch I would add is beveling and finishing your edges with burnishing, using edge dressing or wax or something else.

Neat project. What brand and model sewing machine are you using?
yes Iím very familiar with a stitch groover. We probably have the same stitch grover made by Douglas Tools called Versa Groover. The adjustable side gauge is removable and can be used freehand.
This is only a test sample and my final piece will have the edges finished and burnished like you suggested.

Im using a Cobra Class leather sewing machine made by Leather Machine Co.


I ended up having a section of 3oz. veg tan leather. I used my card stock template to layout the lug design and hand cut it out with an Xacto knife.
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Old 09-17-18, 11:08 AM
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rhm, thatís awesome that youíve made a lot of bicycle saddle skins and have plenty of experience. Iíve been wanting to rebuild a few of my old Brooks and Ideale saddles but with a busy work schedule, time just doesnít allow it. Maybe this winter Iíll dig into it.

Iíve build many 1920ís board track style motorcycle racing saddles. Pictured is one that went on a board track racer replica motorized bike.
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