Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Leather Shop Apron for my Dad

Last fall, a friend of a friend offered me a big box of deer hide they had in their basement. They'd acquired this deer hide at least 30 years ago, and had always intended to do something with it, but never got around to it. As they were clearing out their basement last year, knowing I sewed and did historical costuming, they asked if I would like this box of leather. I eagerly accepted! I've not really done much leather work thus far, but I was sure I'd find projects for this stuff.

When my dad saw the box of leather, he casually mentioned he's always wanted/needed a leather shop apron to protect his clothes while using a grinder to sharpen lawn mower blades and other such things. Alright. Request heard. Birthday gift planned.

The evening before my dad's birthday, I went through all the hides in the box to pick one to make my dad an apron from. The box was primarily full of deer hides, but at the bottom of the box there was one cowhide. Or, more accurately, two halves of a cowhide. Deer hide is pretty thin and stretchy, so I wasn't sure how well it would hold up to my dad's work. Cowhide however? Very durable. I was confident an apron made of cow hide would last my dad a very long time. Thus, I pulled one half of the cowhide out of the box and set to work.

I decided to use the basic apron pattern I drafted 5 years ago to make aprons for my mission trip to Guatemala. After some experimentation as to how best to cut the leather, I discovered my little Fiskers spring-assisted snippers worked best. I used an older pair of these snippers so I wouldn't dull the newer ones I currently use on most of my sewing projects.

After the leather was cut out in an apron shape, I bound the curved edges in black bias tape. This adds a little bit of stability and will hopefully keep the edges from stretching out too badly over time.

For the neck strap I used thick cotton webbing, as I figured that would be more comfortable against the neck than regular nylon webbing. 

I harvested hardware off an old purse and used it to make the neck strap adjustable.

The waist strap is made from regular 1" wide nylon webbing, fastens with a plastic quick release buckle, and is also adjustable.

My sewing machine handled sewing the straps to the thick leather like a champ! I used a large universal needle, took it slow, and ran into no issues. That was a relief since this is definitely the heaviest leather I've ever asked my machine to sew for me! 

The apron went together in a couple of hours one evening - which was really good since I only had one evening to make this thing before giving it to my dad for his birthday!

My dad was super surprised when he unwrapped his gift! He'd apparently not expected me to actually take his request seriously, and loved it! He assured me the apron would be very useful and he'd wear it often!

And this has certainly been true! I've found him wearing the apron while working on multiple occasions!

It makes me so happy seeing my dad wearing his apron. It's not often that I'm able to figure out something truly useful to make my dad, but this apron is certainly something he's needed and wanted for a while! I'm glad I was able to make it for him! 
Now that they're no longer getting hit with sparks and metal shavings on a daily basis, my dad's work clothes should last him longer! The apron is doing its job! 
(And just a disclaimer, even though they're not pictured in these photos, yes, my dad always wears safety glasses when using a grinder and other such equipment. He just turned off the equipment and took off the glasses when I appeared to take a couple pictures of him wearing the apron.)

1 comment:

  1. That is so cool!I've always been curious about sewing with leather. It is a lot harder to sew for guys in general and I often wish I could come up with more things to sew for my Dad and brothers, but that makes it even more rewarding when you do hit on something they like and can use.