Hot! Work in Progress: Leather Stays – Buying Leather, Preliminary Cutting

I found that purchasing the leather for these damn things has been the most difficult part of this project.  Because most stays are boned, you want leather thatis thick enough to be supportive, but not so thick that you might as well be wearing armor.  I talked to a few people who had made leather stays before, and both of them had trouble finding the right weight.  One went with 6oz leather and found it too floppy and prone to creasing, the other went with 12oz leather and had the opposite problem – it didn’t have enough give.  Taking their experiences into account, I decided to go somewhere in-between with 9-10oz leather.

Let me tell you, it is shockingly difficult to find 9-10oz leather, in a large enough piece, of decent quality, without any cuts, holes, etc, without breaking the bank.

Olaf says: "I will help hold down the leather!"

After two unfruitful trips to Tandy Leather, I was about to give up on my hopes of finding leather that was what I was looking for in a place where I could touch it first.

Cue the Fort Frederick Market Fair and the wonderful folks at Kentucky Leather and Hide.  After a bad experience with a dealer who didn’t know what I was talking about and refused to listen to what I was actually looking for, I found the Kentucky Leather folks and was really impressed with their products.  The staff knew exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned leather stays, and pointed me toward a perfect piece of leather.  Unfortunately, the only piece they had that was large enough was HUGE, but they gave me a discount on it that made it worth it, especially since I can use the rest of the leather for other projects.

On Wednesday we took the leather over to our friends Chris and Natasha’s apartment.  I laid the cardboard pattern down on the leather and went over the edges with a glover’s needle to imprint the edges of the pattern on the leather.  Once that was done I used a box cutter to go over and over the lines until eventually I cut through the leather.  The edges are a bit rough, but Marc and I will be going over them with a beveler once everything is done.  I cut all the tabs as one piece, so I still need to notch them into the body of the stays, and I need to add straps to the back of the stays to meet the front ones, and then we have to punch holes, but after that…my leather stays will finally be finished!