Introduction: Flawed Leather Suspenders
This is a project that has some scope creep issues, some images have been lost to the winds of time, but the memories shall remain here, at Instructables.
It's a basic set of leather suspenders that are currently functional, but will become a trademark of my persona if I continue with the wearing of them in public places. Which tends to become a talkative experience if I wear a smile. Or a gaze averting struggle from all on-comers if I'm wearing a frown. Your mileage may vary.
This Instructable assumes you have a few of the basic tools for leather working. Such as
- soft hammer
- few stamping tools
- a sharp blade and a steady hand
- hole punches are highly recommended
- this is not a complete listing
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Step 1: Simple Leather Suspenders
For my wedding, I made some really simple leather suspenders.
I used a table with a lifted edge for a straight line, and a metal ruler as a spacer. Utility blade as the cutter.
1. Cut a scrap of leather into 1" strips ~4' long.
2. use some bees wax and a wooden dowel to burnish the edges of said straps.
3. using some stiff veg tanned, cut a shape of your preference, with at least 3 even sides for where we are going to cut and pull the lengths of strapping thru for each shoulder and the rear connection.
4. cut slits large enough to pull the strapping thru, but do not yet pull the strapping thru
5. not needed but suggested, bevel the flesh side of the leather on all cuts. I usually aim for a 45deg angle to meet closely with the finished edge, but it's done by hand so it's not perfect.
(optioal) - using sponge, swivel knife, stamps and a hammer, cut then stamp a design into this backplate
6. attach the straps! i used a 5 pin punch from Tandy supply to get it pefect, going in an x pattern and matching up the center pin during the crossing line punch. once the holes are punched, use waxed string to sew them in, remembering to hide your knots out of sight and melt the string to promote a long and strong lasting stitch.
... there was more planned, i wanted to scribe into them with a hot iron, and then add buckles for adjustments, then clasps at the bottom...
But the date kinda came faster than the project was willing to allow, and i settled for:
- giving it a beeswax polish
- cutting holes in the straps approximately where I had sewn buttons into the inside of my slacks.
- sew buttons to inside of slacks at both front pockets and dead center in the back, all along the waist seam lower stitching.
it wasn't perfect, but it was my own. And it was much more rewarding than paying for a pair of leather suspenders in the color i wanted...
Step 2: Re-thinking the Objective of These Suspenders
Originally needed for fashion at a social event (my own wedding!), no thought was given to the functionality or ability to do it's job.
As they hung up in my office, like a trophy of memory lane, I pondered how I could get myself interested in actually wearing them instead of the belts that have plagued my skinny hips all my life.
I decided that I needed to practice my 4 stranded round braid.
Step 3: 4 Stranded Round Braid
This can be done with or without a core, and the strap width will be approximately equal to the end braid circumference.
If using a core in this braid, keep in mind that if you don't want to see any of the core from the outside after the braid is completed your going to want very thin leather (much thinner than what i have used here) cut into wider strips. or use a more robust 8 strands to make an 8 stranded round braid (not to be confused with what I'm doing here, which is a 4 stranded round braid)
the picture has a great overview of the steps to braid, just repeat, and repeat, and repeat until you have the required length. In my experiences the strapping should be approximately twice the intended finished length.
Step 4: Making the Strips
I cut the straps into strips, approximately equal in width and 4 in number.
i did this by hand, without a guide, with a utility blade. Yeah my hands wavered alittle during the cuts, but it's hard to see that in the finished product.
After having cut the straps into strips, I then beveled the flesh sides for all cuts made. This is VERY HELPFUL in making the braid lay over itself smoothly, squared cuts here will make for sore fingers and a rough braid later. Again, this was done at ~45deg from the flesh side to the cut line.
Step 5: Braid With Steady Tension
It's best to get an even tension while braiding, I like to hook the starting side to a wall or desk (you may have noticed the floor of my office has a mount sunk into it, it'svery handy), and keep tension on the straps while i'm braiding. many ways to do this, and most people find their own way of getting it just right after some experience.
Step 6: Terminate the End
I choose some simple brass clasps from my local hardware store. But make sure you have at least 4-6" of strapping left to do a termination knot with. I loop strands 3 and 4 from the back thru the clasp, then the front facing 2 strands thru from the opposite side, then fashion a knot that feels strong and isn't too bulky
Make sure both sides are fairly even in length after being braided! I finished the first, then started the second. and I think I should have just braided to the end of the first length, clamped my progress and braided the other side before terminating both sides with clasps at the same time.
I tried 2 ways of terminating the end, one was weaved back into the braid (this was difficult, and looks poor, i'm going to redo this in a knot soon)
the other was to create a ball knot of your preference. I'm not personally proficient in knots and didn't have alot of straping to do anything fancy with it, so just fashioned a simple home-spun knot that felt strong.
Step 7: Find a Way to Clasp the Rear Connection to the Pants
I was tired, and wanted to be done with my finger torture, so i left the back strap as a single piece, and simply tied the rear clasp temporarily to the end of the strap. I will eventually make the rear piece adjustable with a buckle and properly terminated clasp.
Update: i came back to this and terminated the end in a bucklewhich has it's own tail fed thru itself for the adjuster strap. this creates a nice loop that I use a large format clip i got from the local hardware store. this allows maximum flexibility for what the suspenders can be worn with as i dont have to sew any buttons to the inside of(i can use the belt loops with a quick attach and detach ability) the garmets i wear it with. it may not look classy but it is very nice not having any concerns regarding crouching down to the ground.
Step 8: WEAR IT
leather tends to look and feel incomplete until it's been properly worn in.
- the edges are rough, and may chafe skin if rubbed against too much
- the strapping is still stretching, this item is not yet at it's final dimensions
- In my experiences, it helps to get leather soaking wet, then stretch it to your desired size (this can be done by wearing it) and let it dry in that shape.
yes, this likely involves you going for a fully clothed swim on accident, or wearing a soggy leather set of suspenders that will likely leach dye and stain the clothing your wearing. But these suspenders will no doubt live longer than most shirts your bound to encounter in ordinary life.
SACRIFICE THE SHIRT, SPARE THE LEATHERS
Imagine a plain white shirt stained in the pattern of your newly braided suspenders.
Now imagine throwing that shirt into the rag bin...