Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Papa Nui - Beach Battalion Hat

Sometimes I wish, I had the courage to step out of my comfort zone, when it comes to certain pieces of clothing or accessories. I can really appreciate something, but at the same time I have that gut feeling, that says "This ain't gonna work on you".

Even though I was very close to ordering one of these amazing Daisy Maes, that blogger extraordinaire, Papa Nui has had made, I decided against doing so. But that doesn't mean, that you shouldn't go ahead and acquire one for yourself or your best friend. The 

The Papa had these hats made of a 100% cotton herringbone twill with the iconic frog skin camo, that the USMC used back in the days. 
I have to say, that they look extremely well-made, which I'm sure, that they are, as I don't think the Papa would put his name on anything, that isn't good, as in really good. So do support a good initiative like this.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Some Recent Stuff From the Workshop

I have this annoying ability of not being able to wait until the product is totally finished before I start taking pictures. I'm rather impatient for some reason.

The reason for me saying this is, that I just finished some gifts for some members in my family, and I took the pictures shortly after, I had just given them some neatsfoot oil. Hence the small markings on the leather, where the oil hadn't dried completely.

The recipe is like it usually is: Vegetable tanned leather and waxed linen.

Pictures turned out quite terrible even, but in case you were wondering, it's a double sided cardholder and a case for business cards.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Mom's Rings

My mom is quite creative and quite handy and I sometime hope, that I've inherited some of her skills, but I have my doubts, when I see, how many things she has excelled at, sewing, painting, drawing sculpting, knitting and so on. 

I could show you more stuff, that she has made or designed, but for now I'll stick to a couple of rings, that she had custom made to her specific design some time in the 60's as far as I recall (it could be the 70's, so mom, please forgive me, if I'm wrong). I've had them in a drawer for quite some time because I've been meaning to have them reproduced in my size, albeit I want to have some minor alterations made. 
Somehow I've never gotten around to actually having it done. Most likely a result of me never wearing much jewellery - except for a watch.

The first ring is the one, I've always liked the most. Please bear in mind, that it used to look a lot better, but one of my sister attempted to resize it, which made it crooked. To make matters worse she also decided to clean and polish it. Luckily it's starting to patinate again.

One day it struck me, that I could easily wear a signet ring, but in the end it'll probably be hard pull off.

I have just sent these pictures to a good friend of After the Denim in hopes of having them reproduced in my size.

Want - North Sea Clothing "The Expedition"

Though it's supposed to be summer and I should probably be looking for shorts and, God forbid, t-shirts, I can't help thinking about buying something, that I feel, I should have bought a long time ago; The Expedition sweater from North Sea Clothing.

It's made in England (by a family owned company in Nottinghamshire) and it's roughly based on a sweaters, that was issued by the royal navy during the First and Second World War. Something some people might not like is the high content of natural lanolin in the wool, which makes it rather water repellent, but it also has a very special smell, which some people can't stand and some people enjoy. I belong in the later category. From good people, whose opinion I trust, I've heard, that the quality is impeccable and that it's a sweater, that will last you a very long time.

Honestly, that brass anchor button and the shawl collar are just crazy nice details.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making a Belt

Working with leather isn't that hard. That is, if you have all the necessary tools and someone with experience to help you along. I sometimes let friends make something simple like a belt, a cardholder or an iPad case, like my friend Rune did. Some days ago I helped my friend, Anders, make a belt for himself, as his old belt was starting to look a bit shabby. We went for a nice, thick, vegetable tanned leather from England and a solid brass buckle (also from England). Sometimes it looks nice when you attach the belt buckle with rivets, but the proper way of doing this is by handsewing, so that is what we did using a thick (6 ply) waxed linen thread.

Someone asked, how you use a stitching clam - I hope this answers the question.

Thick, waxed linen thread is the way to go.

The brass buckles look good, when they're new and/or polished, but they also look amazing, when they tarnish.

Holes for sewing are prepunched using a pricking iron.

The final part of making anything in leather is always the burnishing, which is best done by hand. The burnish is done using a bit of water, some thick canvas and then you just rub it vigorously creating some friction, which keeps the leather fibres down and creates a nice, smooth edge. You then repeat it using beeswax or possibly gum tragacanth. We used beeswax this time.  

Here's the final result

Notice the nice grain structure of this leather. Very pronounced, deep, rustic, defined - I could go on.

I never get tired of brass, which is why, I'm almost exclusively working with brass hardware.

Pretty flawless stitching.

A small detail taken from the equestrian world, where you number each hole to adjust the height.

Lastly - the burnish. A tell-tale sign of true craftsmanship. That being said I do also appreciate a clean cut raw edge.

 I might be making either picture or video tutorial on how to make a belt or something else, if someone would like to see this of course. 
If you would like to see, what gets made in the workshop, I suggest, that you join After the Denim's Facebook group, where I'll regularly put up (terrible) iPhone pictures of, what I'm working on at that given time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Department of Small Works

Plenty of readers contact me about getting into working with leather. I try to talk most of the people out of it, as it is a really expensive hobby, unless you have some ambitions about doing more than just one belt. But I totally understand the fascination, as it was that fascination, that got me started and that fascination, that keeps me going despite all the failures and let-downs, that I still experience.
A reader contacted me some time ago wanting help with shoemaking. He wanted to make shoes for himself. To me that sounded crazy, and to be honest it still does. However the guy comes across as being really set on the idea, and when you have that feeling, he might just be able to accomplish something.

This was a really long intro for something, that isn't really directly related to, what this post is really about. The post is about a project called "The Department of Small Works", which a friend of mine led me to some time ago.

This project was a result of a long, long bike ride around the British Isles, where Nick Hand depicted and interviewed some of the last real makers of a lot of different things like shoes, hats, bikes etc.
The webpage doesn't look like much, but if there's one thing to be learned, it must be, that it doesn't matter much, when the book looks pretty damn good.

If I can connect the intro with this, then I would like to say; HC this is for you - Bespoke shoemaker Deborah Carré of Carreducker.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gung Ho

One thing I learned, when I started getting into menswear and clothing in general, as opposed to more fashion oriented clothing, is that quality doesn't always come with premium  price. Sometimes you do pay for that extra good fabric, some specific details or something being actualy handsewn, but it is possible to obtain well-made products at a surprisingly - or embarrassingly - low price.

This is the case with Earl's Apparel (which I'm pretty sure also covers the brands Gung Ho and Stan Ray), which is made in the US. Their workwear products have long been a mainstay in Japan (where I discovered them a long time ago), but now they are making an entrance in the US in more reputable shops like Hickoree's and Archival Clothing

The fit may no be for all, as it looks a bit roomy, however I think the price is something, that appeals to all and personally there is one detail, that I'm just crazy about; and that is the felled outseam. Having thighs like tree trunks myself, I find, that a lot of pants look like they're busting at the seams, especially when sitting down. However that felled outseam prevents just that. Again, a small detail that very few notices, but it makes a hell of a difference to me. You just don't see that many company making pants with that detail and if I could, I would.