Top patterns/stitching

Share secrets, compare techniques, discuss the merits of materials--eg. veg vs. chrome--and above all, seek knowledge.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#1 Post by dw » Fri May 31, 2002 6:12 am

All,

Here's a question/problem that has niggled at me for the better part of thirty years...

Has anyone found a way to tie off nylon thread--especially on ornamental topstitching--so that it will not pull through to the top side? Nylon is very slippery and will almost always, in my experience, "unstitch" itself within a very short period of time unless something is done to prevent it. I don't want to simply tie a square knot (nor do I believe it would hold long, anyway)--it's too bulky. I don't think "overstitching" is really all that effective with nylon but worse, it messes with the appearance of the stitching on the "visible" side.

Generally, I pull tag ends through to the back side and clip them real short and then burn the ends. But this creates two...maybe three problems. First, it leaves a unsightly looking little black spot on the leather. Sure, it's on the inside of the boot, but I'd rather it was visible at all. Second, most of the time that burnt nylon "flyspeck" adheres to the lining leather, but sometimes it comes loose...leaving a rough, almost sharp, little "thorn" on the inside of the boot. The stitching is not gonna come loose but sometimes that loose bit of plastic can be scratchy.

And third, the closer you clip the tags, the less of a flyspeck you'll get but the greater the chance of scorching the leather.

It's a no-win situation. Anyone got any ideas? What do you do with your thread tags, Tex? Michael? Lisa?

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

dagon

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#2 Post by dagon » Fri May 31, 2002 6:31 am

A dab of Superglue? While I've not yet even made a pair of shoes, I know it has worked for me in other conditions...

Tex Robin

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#3 Post by Tex Robin » Fri May 31, 2002 6:59 am

DW,

I don't have much to add to your explanation. It is a problem that won't go away. In my early years I would plaster them down with a smear of all-purpose, but that would leave an unsightly yellow smear. I burn them like you do but I may do it a bit different. I burn it down to a blob and then flatten it down with the lighter. It makes a little round spot. I don't know what to do about the burnt marks. They are just there. You can burn the ends with a soldering iron. It won't leave a burn mark but it is much slower than the lighter.

You can cut down on the pull throughs on inlays by doing the most of your stitching before you add the lining and then just run an outlining row around the outside of the pattern.

There is one thing that I do that is different than most makers. I always make my stitch patterns to run off of the top either at the bottom or under the pulls. Then there are no tie offs in the middle. With inlays, however it is not always possible to do this. The cactus I do is an exception as it is one continuous row with no tie offs at all. Design of your patterns is the only way out of it..TR

Lisa Sorrell

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#4 Post by Lisa Sorrell » Fri May 31, 2002 7:17 am

D.W.,
Jay taught me to pull the end through and tie it. But I never trusted that method, and when I started on my own I began cutting the ends off short and burning them. Then I smash the little ball of hot nylon with my thumb. You're right--it works well, but it leaves an ugly brown spot...

I know a bootmaker who does all of his stitching before he puts the linings in. He likes the look of the clean lining. Jay taught me that the best way to check the talents of a top stitcher was to look inside the boot. Your eye will be distracted by the colors on the outside of the boot. Inside, there's nothing to distract and it's much easier to spot mistakes. I guess for that reason I LIKE the way the boot looks on the inside when it's stitched through the lining. Except for those ugly brown spots... Image

Oh, and I agree with Tex. Make patterns that stitch off the edges whenever possible.

Lisa

bultsad

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#5 Post by bultsad » Fri May 31, 2002 11:25 am

I use a woodburning pencil. It takes a few minutes to heat up but you have great control and minimal burning of the lining leather.If you are careful you can create a little nylon ball that you can push down in the needle hole for a virtually smooth surface. I had a guy that ran a production line(he was making tack not boots DW) show me that trick and I have since quit using lighters.
Jim

RileyCraig

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#6 Post by RileyCraig » Fri May 31, 2002 5:01 pm

A small dab of acrylic paint on the tip of a small brush covers the burn mark quite nicely, after burning the threads. It's hardly noticable at all.

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#7 Post by dw » Fri May 31, 2002 9:42 pm

All,

Thanks so much for all the comments! It's cold comfort but nice anyway to know that I'm not alone in my wish for a better solution. I had hoped that someone, somewhere would have come up with something.

I've tried the wood burning pencil, Jim. You're right, it's pretty dern good. If they made one that would come on, ready to go, in an instant, and turn off in an instant, I think it would be the answer. As it is I get nervous having it on for so long in such proximity to my unsuspecting body as I focus in on stitching.

Like Tex and Lisa, I try to design patterns that stitch right off the side of the top. I have a stitched rose that I do with two very closely spaced lines of stitching and once you put the needle in the leather it doesn't stop till both lines are in and you're back at the beginning.

I also tried something else several years ago that works great...if you want to take the time. I'll tell you about it...maybe someone can improve on the time issue.

What I did was take a very sharp needle (thinner is better) and bend it into a tight curve close to the tip. Mount it in a screw awl or some sort of handle. Then when you finish a line of stitching that needs a tie-off, leave your tag ends pretty long--two or three inches. Turn your top over and insert the tip of the needle into the lining leather close (very, very close) to the point the tags are emerging from the lining. Make a "tunnel" through the substance of the lining for a quarter inch or so. Then shove a needle threader (or a bent piece of very, very thin wire--like a guitar string) through the tunnel and thread the tag ends into the loop of wire. Dab a bit of all-purpose onto the threads and pull them through the tunnel. Pull the tags a little taut and clip. Then gently hammer the tunnel to close it around the thread and glue.

It's a little tedious and potentially (but it doesn't have to be) a bit messy, but it works slick. The key to the whole thing might be mounting the needle in a handle. That helps a whole lot and really speeds things up, as well.

Anyway, it's not the perfect answer, but it might be just the thing for those "show" boots you're taking to Witchita Falls this September.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

joe

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#8 Post by joe » Sat Jun 01, 2002 6:41 am

I use a small soldering iron to seal the ends and smash it into the leather at the same time. Worksd great

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#9 Post by dw » Mon Jun 03, 2002 5:00 pm

In a fit of creativity and in the spirit of picking up threads of forgotten enterprises, the recent conversations so inspired me that I went back and spent several days refining ideas and techniques that I had only touched on the first time around.

I played around with it over the weekend and I'm almost to the point of thinking this *is* the perfect solution to the problem of tying off nylon thread.

I am posting some photos and comments to go with them to illustrate the technique.

The first photo is of the basic tools needed to tie off nylon without leaving flyspecks of burnt plastic inside the boot.

I made the little awl from a harness needle. I heated it over an alcohol burner and then bent and flattened the tip. I then re-tempered it and sharpened the tip. It looks like a tiny sewing awl.

The thread puller is #8 (.008" ) guitar string. I cut about 8 inches off (plenty left if you need a second or third shot), bent it double with a very tight bend and then added two 90 degree bends about an inch from the tip. I embedded, and superglued, the ends in a a 7/9 peg and then slapped two wooden beads on the peg.

Notice the stitching. Two lines tan, two lines navy blue.
2158.jpg
2158.jpg (52.84 KiB) Viewed 2751 times


Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#10 Post by dw » Mon Jun 03, 2002 5:05 pm

This second photo is of the awl being pushed through the lining leather. This is essentially a "tunnel." The awl tip starts just at the hole where the top thread comes through and travels just below the surface of the lining leather for about one-quarter to three-eighths of an inch. It can go in any direction. You can even subsequently stitch over the "tunnel."
2159.jpg
2159.jpg (32.23 KiB) Viewed 2751 times


Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#11 Post by dw » Mon Jun 03, 2002 5:12 pm

The third photo is of the threader being pushed through the hole. It has to be slid through by hand (the beads are just so the wire won't get lost) but it is very easy to push it through. Push/pull it through until it spreads out and then feed your tag ends into the threader. With a small awl apply a little dab of all-purpose to the threads and pull them through the hole. Pull the threads taut, clip, and tap down. If you wipe away excess glue while it is still "tender," they'll be no trace left of it. Use a piece of plantation crepe for this.
2160.jpg
2160.jpg (36.3 KiB) Viewed 2751 times


Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#12 Post by dw » Mon Jun 03, 2002 5:20 pm

And the last photo shows the results. One end of this four rows of stitching has been burnt. Some of the threads were tan, remember, so they left a tan "flyspeck." Some were navy blue and you can clearly see them as almost black "flyspecks."

But look at the other end of the four rows of stitching! Here, in this close-up (shot at about three inches), you can see the shadow of where the stitches lie under the leather but with treeing and such, the tie-offs would be virtually invisible.

I like it. I don't know how fast it ultimately can be but in my initial experiments over the weekend, it was pretty fast. Fast enough to be competitive with burning...especially if you take into consideration the results.

Thanks to everyone for the inspiration!
2161.jpg
2161.jpg (41.28 KiB) Viewed 2751 times


Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#13 Post by dw » Mon Jun 03, 2002 5:24 pm

Oh! and one other photo...

The job that created the frustration that led me to look for another solution (just try imagining the back side of this panel...bleah!).

This is the rat that ate the malt that...lived in the house that Jack built. Image

2162.jpg
2162.jpg (66.36 KiB) Viewed 2751 times


Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
jake
7
7
Posts: 544
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 1998 7:01 pm
Full Name: Jake
Location: Mountain View, Arkansas, USA

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#14 Post by jake » Sun Jun 09, 2002 10:35 am

D.W.,

I've been in the hay fields for the past couple of weeks, and I haven't been following the forum like I should (hopefully I'm not fired). So I'm late on commenting on your ingenuous method of tying off threads. Since I've not tried it.....yet....I can only speculate, but it does seem like you may be on to something here. I have never attempted to sew a top panel such as your above rose inlay pattern, but I have sewn traditional patterns that produce dozens of fly "droppings" on the lining side. As you mentioned, it really takes away from a professional look. You can bet I'll investigate your findings as soon as I get some time.

I for one, truly appreciate your attitude towards perfection, and the desire to unselfishly share the rewards of all your endeavors.

At-a-Boy!

Tex Robin

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#15 Post by Tex Robin » Sun Jun 09, 2002 12:27 pm

DW,
I think this is a good idea if you want to go to the trouble but it is very old trick used by seamstresses and quilters. And I really don't see much difference between the burn spots and the lumps left by the thread tunnels. Now if the operation could be shortened to just one operation like an awl with an eye in it I might be interested in doing it.....Might be..Not to be critical but for me adding another frivolous step to bootmaking is not my cup of tea..TR

User avatar
gcunning
4
4
Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 1998 7:01 pm
Full Name: Gary
Location: Wichita Falls, TX, USA

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#16 Post by gcunning » Sun Jun 09, 2002 3:40 pm

I noticed you did not say anything about glue. I have always heard (not just with boots) glue nylon down because it will eventually work its way back out.
Thoughts??

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#17 Post by dw » Sun Jun 09, 2002 4:20 pm

All,

Jake, thanks for the kind words. I know you, you have that same drive for refinement that I have...If you try it, you'll like it.

Tex, it definitely *is* a bit more hassle...but the better part of the hassle is making the tools to begin with. I don't think it takes that much more time than burning the threads. And the result is way, way better. One of the things that drives me crazy about burning ...besides the "dirty" look (that's why I refer to it as "flyspecks" ), is that those little black spots of burnt "plastic" often come loose from the leather. As I said in another post, this doesn't mean that the thread is gonna come out but the burnt nylon can be sharp and scratchy. It can itch, if nothing else. You may not see much of a difference in my photo but believe me, when the boot is treed and you look into it, you'll see a world of difference. I think you'll be hard pressed to see where the threads come out at all. What's more, you'll be able to feel the difference...because all you will feel is leather.

BTW, I mentioned that I had fiddled with this concept several years ago. I started out with the basic idea and then went the same direction you did. I tried using a straight sewing needle (from my sewing machine) and poking it into the leather. I even tried bending it to make a little, eyed awl, as you suggest. But try threading your tag ends into the eye of that needle. Now *that* takes time. In fact, that's what made me abandon the concept for several years.

Gary, I did mention dropping a bit of all purpose on the threads just before pulling it through. It's right there with the description of the threading tool (third photo). You can go down to the local fly fishing shop and buy a bottle of Flex-cement...or just ask for a cement bottle with a attached bodkin. The Flex-cement will work really well and even more importantly it has a little plastic inner cap that you can stick a long needle through. I generally put a three inch wooden handle on the needle, before hand. Flytyers sometimes call this a cement "bodkin" This will sit in the mouth of the bottle while it is open, with the needle point in the cement, and the bottle will be effectively sealed off. When done with the cement you just pull out the bodkin, inner cap and all, and close the bottle with the outer cap. When the Flex-cement is gone, replace it with all purpose or formica cement, and you're good to go.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#18 Post by dw » Sun Jun 09, 2002 4:27 pm

I should point out, just in case it wasn't immediately obvious, that in my photo showing the results, I deliberately left the thread tunnels a bit proud so that they would be visible in a photo. If I had dabbed a little water on them and then tapped them down you wouldn't have been able to see anything.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

Tex Robin

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#19 Post by Tex Robin » Sun Jun 09, 2002 5:18 pm

DW,
I might try taking a small knife file and cutting a notch in a tiny awl. If I could make the process competitive with burning for the time consumed, it might be worth the trouble. The only time I would use this is when I do an inlay with lots of tie offs. On some inlays there might be 50 pull throughs on each top. And sometimes I just do the pull throughts and attach my linings last, adding one more final row to join them together.. You guys may think I am kidding, but I do DO NOT stop my stitch patterns in the middle of a top intentionally.....TR

User avatar
gcunning
4
4
Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 1998 7:01 pm
Full Name: Gary
Location: Wichita Falls, TX, USA

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#20 Post by gcunning » Mon Jun 10, 2002 6:12 am

"Students read the instructions thoroughly!!"
Egg on my face.
Sorry DW.

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#21 Post by dw » Mon Jun 10, 2002 6:47 am

Gary,

One of the great dangers of posting to the Forum is that if you don't "read the instructions thoroughly" or, if you ask questions...you're liable to get a lengthy follow-up explanation.

Image

Seriously, no problem...I just hope it helps.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

User avatar
gcunning
4
4
Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 1998 7:01 pm
Full Name: Gary
Location: Wichita Falls, TX, USA

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#22 Post by gcunning » Mon Jun 10, 2002 3:27 pm

I have been attempting a Texas flag on a pair of uppers. I have the uppers cut out but cut out a dummy pair to practice on. I have looked at the TX flag in the Art Of The Boot Book(underlined) on what should be pg.148 very middle of the page. The stitches are what I can assume on the backside. When I make it this way the seams are very bulky even skived down.
Are they possibly just glued?
Is their some trick I’m missing?
There is a very thin border of tan stitching. What purpose does this serve if any?

Eisele's Custom Boots

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#23 Post by Eisele's Custom Boots » Mon Jun 10, 2002 6:27 pm

Examining the pictures of the tools that you used DW, I went to my fly tying kit and grabbed the wire tool used to thread my bobbin with. I have two of them, a small one and a very small. They both work equally well for the job and are inexpensive to buy if time doesn't allow the construction of one.
Kevin

bct

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#24 Post by bct » Mon Jun 10, 2002 6:28 pm

Gary, it appears that the red white and blue are inside seams. The tan border stitching is holding the flag in place on the edge.

" Riding For The Brand"
Brian C. Thomas

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Top patterns/stitching

#25 Post by dw » Mon Jun 10, 2002 7:56 pm

Kevin,

Great to hear from you again! I was over at the fly shop today (my son-in-law wants to get into fly fishing--the green drake hatch is on and the salmon fly hatch is just beginning) and saw a tool almost exactly like what I made. But my own bobbin threader doesn't have the two 90 degree angles in the wire. I bought an extra cement bottle with attached bodkin for the shop.

Continuing off topic a bit, man oh man things have changed over the years. I have seven fly rods, all graphite and I built three of those from scratch. But pricing out flyrods really set me back on my heels. If I had to replace any of those rods today, not one would cost me less than $500.00. And I have seven or eight fly reels with extra spools. I think at least five of those are hardy Perfects with the agate line guard...heck they don't even make those any more. Not that they are as advanced engineering-wise as the modern reals but I've been told that any one of them would go for up to $600.00 -$700.00 on Ebay And flylines! And leaders, especially! I'm looking at the technology of leaders and lines for my SIL and I'm wowed by the technology and floored by the price! I've always rolled my own leaders and even built up custom flylines in my time. I won't hesitate to try some of the new stuff but I'm glad I got into it when I was a kid, it's a rich man's game now.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

Post Reply