Fil Au Chinois Pocket Calendar

While drafting an earlier post on my favorite historical tools/materials, I came across some articles on the famous French linen thread, Fil Au Chinois, which means Chinese thread, and some of the history behind this seemingly magical company, mainly in calendar form. 

The brand which has been in existence since 1847, each year would give the calendars to shopkeepers to hand out to their clientele. The oldest one here dates back to 1886, but there may be even older ones in existence. 

They stopped making the calendars around 1938. Too bad, they're so beautiful! I would love to know more about the art dept and the people who created these. It is so hard to choose, but I think 1891 might be my favorite.

Fil Au Chinois has been deemed an important part of French history and has since been revived and is currently reproduced by Toulemonde, a French thread company that has been around since 1903.

Breathing New Life Into an Old Leather Handbag - Mexican Braided Strap

I've been happily working in the studio on some new braiding and lacing techniques for the last few weeks that I can apply to handbag straps. Below are a few pics of one of the new straps that came from this study.

The buckle and clasp ends are saddle stitched and the middle braided parts are a Mexican braid stitch. 334" of lace went into the braided parts and I'm really liking the end result.

I think it does a nice job of breathing some new life into a well broken in bag. Maybe i'll try making a fatter strap, about 2" wide for the next one.

A Custom Hand Laced Leather Bag in Blue

Below are some photos of a custom leather tote bag in blue pebble cowhide leather that I made for a friend. I love how this guy turned out. The slouchyness of this leather is perfect! 

The sides are hand laced using a method of braiding that I came across in one of my whip-making books (more posts on that topic to come!) and the straps are attached with a contrasting black theaded saddle stitch. 

Having the January Blues?

A few sunshine-filled Summery pics that I came across recently, that are helping my late-January-cold-dark-days blues.

Still have the January blues? Me neither!

All photos from Tumblr via Parisiansecrets, 15x20 and stoicubermensch
How a Few Years of Sunlight, Handling and Wear Can Change a Leather Handbag

I know I said out with the old and in with the new in an earlier post, but I take it back! There's nothing like the smell and feel of a brand new leather handbag or wallet, until you watch it age overtime and see how cool the leather looks after it breaks in and patinas. Then, there's nothing like that. One of the main reasons why I love working with nude vegetable tanned leather is to see this process and see how different one hide can be from the next, in terms of how it darkens and changes from sunlight and handling.

Below are some oldies, but goodies.

Nude Knocker Tote, before.

Nude Knocker Tote, before.

Nude Knocker Tote, 2 years later. Darker and complete with some water stains, but what a beauty.  

Nude Knocker Tote, 2 years later. Darker and complete with some water stains, but what a beauty.

 

My brothers wallet - A Mary Savel OG.

My brothers wallet - A Mary Savel OG.

Still kickin' after 5+ years of wear with a little help from some duct tape.

Still kickin' after 5+ years of wear with a little help from some duct tape.

SAddle Stitching with Hermès

While some of my bags are plaited or laced using long shoestring like leather laces, I also make handbags that are saddle stitched. Both the Bucky Bag and the Roll bag are hand constructed this way. The saddle stitch is created by using one piece of thread, with 2 needles attached to either end and a diamond point awl to help make the holes along the way. The piece of work is held in a stitching clam or pony. I use a French linen thread and give it a few pulls through a block of bees wax prior to stitching just like in the video below. This helps the stitches to stay in place and discourages thread rot.

Here is one of my favorite videos of an Hermes Artisan doing some saddle stitching in his workshop. This guy knows whats up.

 

I love working in this stitch. It's very tedious, which I love, (throw on my favorite Podcast, plug in my headphones and I could sit and do this for hours) but it also produces a durable item that will last for a very long time. And in the event that the thread does break down the line, it's easier to repair then a machine stitch.

Resolutions and Goals

Hello and Happy New Year! I know some people get tired of the whole New Years Resolution and goal setting thing, but not me! I love and look forward to the start of a new year. The idea of a fresh start, clean slate, out with the old, in with the new, lets git-er-done sort of mentality is so appealing to me.

One of the first goals i'm setting this year, and also already completing by publishing this post, high-five!, is committing to blog regularly (yay!). What I hope to offer through my blog to you, is a look into my leather studio, sharing the methods and tools that I use in my bag-making, sharing the history of stuff related to making (because I love the history of stuff) and at the very least maybe some inspiration through some pretty pictures I hope to post of all the places that 2017 takes me. Like.....this house we stayed at to ring in the new year upstate last weekend.

 
Mary Savel Nude Knocker Tote on Coffee Table in Sunshine
Mary Savel Nude Knocker Tote on Chair
 

For the record, other specific goals for me this year are:

  1. Learn how to use a non-iphone camera (pathetic, I know)
  2. Create some fun behind-the-scenes studio and how to videos. This requires looking for people to collaborate with..hint hint. If you're into making videos and wanna collaborate, hit me up. 
  3. A redesign of some current bags, including mixing and matching straps and leather embroidery, what?  

Upfront, I'd like to thank you for reading and I always welcome your honest feedback on everything and at all points. 

Here's to a great 2017! I think it's going to be a good one.

 
Mary Savel Nude Knocker Tote on Couch
Mary Savel Nude Knocker Tote on Couch