Remember the needlecase I talked about?  I’ve clarified my plans somewhat.

I’m going to use, as a form for the needle case, some plastic tubing, which has a very flat oval cross section, and its original use was inside the bottom of cheap vinyl window shades.  It’s designed to be able to be custom-sized, with the ability to snap sections off easily.   Each section is ½ inch long.

I’ve chosen to use a piece that is five sections, i.e. 2.5” long, which is 64mm long.  With the German example somewhere about 70mm, and the British example about 58mm, this seems a good average.

The width of my form is about 17mm, which is quite a bit larger than the British example at 10mm.  The German example seems wider.  Regardless, I’ve not time to carve my own form, so I’m going to use it.

For the lining of the case, I purchased some very thin calf remnants.   They were quite cheap.  All the pictured remnants cost $2.  The thickness measures at about 1mm. 

For the outer case, I spent too much money, ($26) on a larger piece, 16.5 by 17”, of a nice even thickness, about 2mm.    It’s seems to be the minimum thickness to do edge-flesh stitching, especially for a complete novice to the task.  However, it’s less than 10cents per square inch, so I’ll just been conservative as I cut.

In order to assemble the case, I will make a set of parallel holes in the lining leather, whip stitch these edges together, with two ends of a thread, and arrange the leather edges so they are slightly overlapped.  Once I’ve stitched the lining, which should be slightly loose on the form, I will soak the lining in unheated water for several hours, then dip the leather briefly, while on the form, in water heated to about 180 degrees, per Cariodoc’s recommendation.  If I’ve measured well, it will shrink slightly, and then harden as it dries.

For the outer case, the stitching is more challenging.  I’m going to try edge-flesh stitching, using a curved stabbing awl blade to pierce the flesh side of the leather, and come out on the edge of the leather.  I will make the holes, in even pairs, and then do the tooling on the outside of the case.  I’ll also cut the slits for the cord.  Then, I’ll start stitching, VERY, VERY LOOSELY from the bottom of the case, up the side, using both ends of the thread.  I must stitch loosely, since the size of the case is so small.  Once the stitches are in place, I will use a tiny metal crochet hook to tighten each stitch, starting from the bottom up.  I will also insert toothpicks to form the cord slits to the correct shape.  The outer case will be test fit over the lining.  It should be slightly bigger.  Then the outer case (only) will be soaked in unheated water for several hours, and then dipped in heated water, etc.  The tricky part here is that when the outer case comes out of the hot water, it must very quickly be swabbed inside with warm hide glue, and the hardened lining and the plastic form must be inserted.  Then I will let it dry.  It should shrink tightly.  I possess some hide glue, because Gerald made some, starting with rawhide chew toys, and gave some to me.  Otherwise, I might not use any glue, and hope friction would be sufficient, or use a modern leather cement.

The lid will be processed in the same way, but without any hide glue.  It needs to fit tightly, but still be removable.

While the leather is drying, I will attempt to re-tool the design as necessary.  Here is where a wooden form would be better. The plastic form has some give, and will not allow the tooling to be as firm.

After the leather is dry, I may coat the outside of the case with melted wax, but I do not know if that is necessary or desired.  We’ll see.

In theory, I believe this process with work.  The biggest variable is the measurement of the individual pieces, and how much the leather will shrink.    I’m going to try my 1st one with a lining cut 2 3/8" by 1 7/8".  I cut this out tonight.

I’ll use some silk and make a finger looped round braid of the correct thickness to use to connect the lid and case.

It appears, doing a quick web search, that waxed linen would be the most common thread for sewing leather.  However, the linen thread I have is pretty slubby, and not even at all.  I also doubt the strength.  In order to do my trick with tightening the stitches with the crochet hook, the thread needs to be strong, in order to take the strain.

I do have some strong, smooth thread, which was processed by me.  Yes, I’m going to use some hand-reeled silk, unless someone can tell me why I shouldn’t.  Marc Carlson’s site suggests it’s possible.

I should remind all my at-home viewers that I haven’t done any of this type of project before.  I’ve done stamping, and sewing kits together with wide lace, but no real leatherwork.  That’s what makes it exciting.  I think I’ll wait until morning to start sewing.

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