Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Learning Leathercraft with Jim Linnell – Lesson 13: Double Loop Lacing

Join us in this weekly video series with award-winning leatherworker Jim Linnell!  In this series, Jim teaches viewers to create a wallet from scratch, including lessons on tooling, dyeing, finishing, construction, assembly, and lacing.

Find the free pattern for this project on the Leathercraft Library at bit.ly/LearnWithLinnell



Materials Used In Lesson 13:

Lacing Chisels

Utility Knife

Medium Brown Water Stain 

Wool Dauber

3/32″ (2mm) Premium Calf Lace

Lacing Needle

Horn Creaser 



A few things learned from this video:

After wallet is all stuck together, it is time to add holes for stitching.  To accomplish this, we will be using a set of lacing chisels to add holes in to the leather to run lace through.  We want the holes to be distanced roughly the same size of our lace (3/32”, 2 mm), so we will use a 4 prong version and a single prong version of the 3/32” chisels.

You can sharpen chisels like other cutting tools, so make sure that they have a sharp cutting edge on them.  Also, make sure that you are punching in to a cutting board to protect both the chisel tips and the marble.

In the last video, we traced the guideline for the chisels on to the leather with a wing divider.  Now we will start by using the single prong chisel to punch a diagonal hole in each corner.  Once the corners are in place, you may begin punching holes along the guidelines. Using the 4 prong chisel, start by overlapping one prong in the diagonal corner slit and make a light impression along the guideline to see the proper distance to begin with.  From there, use the 4 prong chisel to begin punching holes in your leather along the guide line.  Always overlap the first prong in the last hole that you made to punch 3 holes at a time to ensure the consistent spacing.

As you get towards the end of a guideline, use the 4 prong chisel to mark the rest of the potential holes, making light impressions in the leather to ensure the pattern comes out evenly in the corner.  If it does not, adjust the hole pattern slightly towards the middle to compensate so that the spacing comes out evenly on the ends.

After all of the holes have been punched in to the leather, make sure to clean up the edges before stitching. When assembling your project, you may find that parts of the wallet interior slightly overhang the wallet back.  To ensure a clean edge, use a utility knife and trim up these areas until the edges are flush.  Also, use the knife to round off the corners just a little bit to remove the square corner, which will help the lacing lay down more cleanly around the corner.  Use the same medium brown waterstain that we used on the interior to touch up any natural colored leather that is now showing along the edge.


Note: Although the following is a thorough explanation of how to Double Loop Lace, the instructions are much easier to follow by seeing them visually, as presented in the video above.  Please refer to the video for further instructions.

For this project, we will be using a 3/32” calf lace in a brown that is close in color to the interior.  As a general rule, always use the best materials that you can to get the best finished result.  Begin with a double arm’s length worth of lace.  Do not try to start by using enough lace for the entire project.  This will not only slow you down, but it also frays the lace as you stitch your project.  By working with a double arm’s length, lacing will be more manageable and create a better looking finished product..

To lace this project, you will need to use a stitching needle.  To best fit the lace on to the needle, trim the end of the lace to a point.  The longer and narrower the point is, the easier the lace will fit on the needle.  Also, skiving the back of the point to thin it down from its full thickness will allow for a better connection with the needle.  Slide the lace in between the prongs with the grain side against the teeth of the needle and apply pressure with something solid, such as a horn creaser, to close the prongs securely.

To begin lacing, start on the end of the wallet rather than the top or the bottom.  Pushing the needle in from the tooled side of the wallet, pass through the leather about 5 holes in from the left corner with the rough side of the lace up and the smooth side down.  Pull the lace through until all that remains is a tail roughly a few inches long.  Always run the lace through your fingers to get any kinks out of it.

The next stitch will go through the adjacent hole.  Making sure that the tail is caught underneath this first loop, you will find that this stitch forms an X with the first one.  The next stitch will go underneath the X that was created where the lace crosses over itself.

After you pull through the X, stitch through the next hole, always from the tooled side of the leather.  You should find that this loop will cross over your last stitch and create a new X.  Continue this pattern to the corner, with all of the stitches consistently coming from the same side.  Pull these stitches snug, but not tight to avoid stretching the lace or curling the corners of your project.

You will continue this pattern when lacing a corner, however you will go through three holes twice: the corner hole you punched diagonally and the holes on either side.  By going through these holes twice, it will maintain the pattern when rounding the corner.  If the stitching holes are too tight when passing through a second time, a lacing fid can help broaden the hole for a second pass.


As you find yourself with roughly a foot of lace left, begin planning where to dry splice your lace.  Avoid dry splicing on the fold as it makes it may make the wallet more bulky.  To dry splice, instead of looping all the way through the next hole, bring the needle through the hole on the tooled size and then up between the layers of leather.  Trim the remaining lace, leaving a tail roughly one inch long.  With the new piece of lace on the needle, pass through the hole on the inside of the wallet that was missed when lacing between the layers.  Pull the new lace through until there is roughly a 1 inch tail left there as well.  Lay the two tails down together and continue lacing as you were.  By lacing these two pieces underneath the pattern, they become very secure and the seam disappears.


Nearing the end of the lacing for your project, you will find yourself close to where you started.  To create a seamless pattern in the lace, there are a few extra steps to take in completing the lacing.

Note: This step may be made easier by watching the video at 00:00 for a visual aid. 

To accomplish this seamless look, lace all the way until you reach the point where the last stitch could be made.  Pass through the last hole that is available, however do not pass through the last X.

If you look at where you began lacing, you will notice that it is pulled to the side a bit rather than the nice, consistent pattern you have on the rest of the lace.  If were to join right there, there would be an obvious joint.

To avoid this, use a stylus to unlace 3-4 stitches from where you began to prepare blending the pattern.  After you have removed these stitches, you should find that the angles where you ended and where you began are the same. Note: As you remove the last stitch, there will be a loop that remains as part of the first grouping.  This loop is important, so do not pull the lace so tight that the loop disappears.

There will now be a tail several inches long from where you have unstitched where the lacing began. Placing your stylus between the layers of leather, pull this tail up between layers, unlacing it from only one of the two holes.  Cut off this tail down to an inch and lay it down to be laced in as you did when dry splicing.

Continue lacing again, passing through the X and then through the hole until you arrive near the end.

You will get to a point where you have 2 holes left on the tooled side and one hole left on the back.  You will pass through the next hole, leaving one hole on the tooled side and none left of the back.  Before going through the X, pass through the loop that is left from the under side.  As you then pass through the X, the lace will pull down the loop.

At this point, you are still left with one hole left on the tooled side, and no holes left on the back.  Pass through the same loop from the top side once again, which should create the same pattern running along the entire edge.  To finish it off, pass the needle through the remaining hole on the tooled side and pass the lace between the two pieces of leather, pulling it through the money compartment.   Trim off the remaining lace.

To add the finishing touches to your double loop lacing, use a mallet to gently tap down the edges flat.

Tandy Leather Wallet Back By Jim Linnell

Thank you for joining us in this project series!  We hope that you have enjoyed creating this project with Jim and learned a few things along the way!  

Comment below with tools or techniques you would like to potentially see covered in future videos.