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Author Topic: Homemade leather (and fur) chopper mitts  (Read 16818 times)

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Offline Rancid Crabtree

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Homemade leather (and fur) chopper mitts
« on: January 24, 2014, 10:50:18 AM »
For year I have been making hard leather items like knife sheaths, holsters, quiver, arm guards but I have always wanted to branch off into soft leather items using buckskin, full grain, upholstery leather and suede?s. 

My late great Uncle Al used to make leather chopper mitts and bring them up north when he would visit. We got a lot of use out of those mitts in cold weather. Here is one of those mitts Al made about 30 years ago.



Al?s mitts were warm and simple and utilitarian and kept my hands warm while hunting all these years. For many years I have wanted to make my own mitts. The recent cold snap and the increase in my sewing projects got me again interested in trying my hand at sewing my own mitts. If there was anything I would change about Al?s mitts it would be the length and the liners. They didn?t go up the arm enough to cover the cuff of a jacket. I plan to make mine a bit longer.  Also Al?s mitts did not have a removable liner. The faux fur he used was sewn into the leather mitt. I plan to make my liners removable so if the liners need drying the liner can be removed to speed drying and to be able to care for the liner separately from the leather since leather doesn?t like the heat I would use to dry the liner. Then when I use the snow blower I wont have cold wrists and forearms. the longer cuff will make them warmer for hunting and ice fishing as well.

I will be using the tanned hide of a deer I killed a few years ago.



As well as fur



The liners will be a dual layer of Polartec fleece closest to the skin as well as wool. The wool comes from a Swiss army surplus blanket.



Before I could any further I needed to make a pattern for the liner and another pattern for the leather mitt. Because I want a longer mitt that fits over the bulky sleeve of a winter jacket I had flare out the longer cuff. I will start with the fleece and wool liner and then make a mitt that fits over the liner. Here is the pattern I came up with. Its 3 pieces with a folding thumb.



Then I cut the pieces from the wool and Polartec fleece.



The two materials are sewn together to keep them from shifting when I join the separate pieces together.



I plan to have fur on both the liner and the leather mitt. Its more for show than warmth.



Before I can sew the fur to the other part of the liner I need to join the two pieces together to form the thumb. The three pictures below show the steps to form the thumb.



Then fur is added to the other half of the liner.



Then the two halves are sewn together.



Should the outside leather get wet all the way through (I?m working to make sure that won?t happen) The wool outside of the liners is given a spray coating of silicone waterproofer.



With the liners finished its time to make the leather outer mitt.  Again I need a pattern. The leather mitt thumb will be a bit different than the thumb in the liner. This will be a bit more difficult to sew but will look far better.



I made a practice thumb to get a feel for sewing it and for a size check. I?m glad I did at the thumb was a bit long so I shortened the pattern (since it was easier than growing my thumb)



Then I cut the halves of the mitt from the deer skin.



The plain deer skin is very light in color and will show dirt and stains pretty easy so I am going to stain the thumb and palm side with a mixture of brown and Ox blood with a little alcohol to thin it out since I don?t want a solid color. Once I oil the leather it will darken considerable from this shade. I have other plans for the back of the hand so Im not staining it.



While I wait for the stain to dry on the leather I have time to embellish the back of the mitt. I sewed on a strip of the same fur and added the Edge protection since the leather edge will curl and wrinkle over time if it not sewn.



Then I saw the cuff as a big blank space needing something to fill it in so I reached for the sharpie marker.



With the dyed leather dry its time to start sewing. I start by sewing the thumb inside out to hide the stitching and to protect it from wear.



Then the thumb is turned right side out and slipped inside the opening in the palm and sewn from the outside. I stitched it twice for added strength.



The two halves are sewn together inside out again to hind and protect the stitching and to tuck in the fur trim edge.



Then the mitt is turned right side out. As you can see the palm was also a blank slate in need of some decoration so I fired up the sharpie marker again.



The liner and the mitt meet for the first time. Everything fits.



Waterproofing the leather is a two step process. It starts with neatsfoot oil. You can see from the sample piece of leather both the stained and natural leather will darken with the oil.



The first oiling makes it dark. Another oiling will make it darker and so will a coating of mink oil.



The mink oil is a paste or cream that looks a bit like Vaseline. I rub it in with a stiff sponge and then use a hot blow dryer to melt it so it soaks into the leather.



The finished pair.



My happy hand model braved the single digit temps for this photo shoot. Her bulky winter jacket sleeves fit nicely into the cuff of the mitt.



For never having made chopper mitts before I am pleased with how they turned out and have plans on how to improve upon the next one. Here is a short video of the mitt being placed under running water. It shows the waterproofing of the neatsfoot and mink oil. Over time another coating of the mink oil will need to be added if the leather shows signs that its getting wet..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAxDjBn-cHg

My hand model has already put in a request for a pair for herself. She wants different colors and symbols on hers.
Any day in the woods is a good day.

Offline Rancid Crabtree

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Re: Homemade leather (and fur) chopper mitts
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2014, 10:51:33 AM »
My wife (mitten model) wanted her own pair of deer skin leather chopper mitts but she was not partial to bears or brown leather so I told her to pick out exactly what she wanted for her pair. She wanted bright blue leather and white fur and butterflies with white trim. The liner would be the same black blizzard fleece I have been using on other projects.



Dying a tanned leather deer hide is a crap shoot in terms of what the final color will be. Here is the tanned leather before dying.



I used Rit dye and white vinegar. The vinegar was added after the hide was in the dye for 5 minutes.



I presoaked the leather in hot water for 15 minutes before dying.



I soaked the leather in the dye for 30 minutes then rinsed it under hot water and then cold water.



Then I stretched the hide out on a sheet of plywood and used a box fan to dry it.



Once dry I had to find areas of the hide that were not streaky or blotchy to cut the pieces of the gloves from.





The back side of the mittens got white trim, white fur and the butterfly.





The palm side only gets white trim and the thumb sewn on. Im getting better at sewing the thumb to the palm.



The liners are a double layer of fleece and long white fur.



The finished mittens. The blue really worked out well. I thought it would end up dark but its nice and bright. I sprayed them with silicone waterproofer to keep them clean and dry.




Any day in the woods is a good day.

Offline Rancid Crabtree

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Re: Homemade leather (and fur) chopper mitts
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2014, 10:52:56 AM »
Since I am having fun making these leather  mittens I?ll keep going and make some and donate them to WBH and WTA for their upcoming annual conventions. Both WBH and WTA sent me their embroidered emblems/patches to use in the creation of the mitts.

Since the WTA event is less than a month away I will get started on theirs first. For these mits I am using nice dark suede cow hide I picked up from Tandy leather.



Aside from the WTA patches I will be adding grey fur to both the leather mit and the liner. The patch and fur will be on the back side of the mit but I want to add some decoration to the palm side so I went back to my supply of tanned deer hides and will sew the deer skin to the palm with the grain side out. The deer skin is much lighter so I will give it a light buckskin stain and sketch on some artwork. Each mit will have a different image.

The right mit will have a bowhunter at full draw. Here is the image lightly penciled onto the deer skin.



I follow that up with a fine tip sharpie permanent marker and after staining the leather.



The left hand is going to have a scene with a buck standing with some trees in the background. While it could be viewed either way the buck is looking away from the screen not towards the screen. You are looking at the back of his neck as he faces away. When the two mits are worn palms side up it will create a scene in which the bowhunter is at draw on a quartering away buck. (that?s the thought anyway. Sometimes I think to hard about this stuff.)





After the thumb is sewn to the palm I add the buckskin with the artwork to the palm.



Here are the mits before I join the two halves together.





After the two halves are sewn together and trimmed and turned right side out, I sprayed them with a heavy coat of Atsco silicone waterproofer  to make sure they keep the user dry and to set the inked image in place. The waterproofer darken the leather just a bit.





The mitts need warm fleece liners. I used a double layer of blizzard fleece and grey fur.



The finished WTA mitts.





Now I need to make a pair for WBH.
Any day in the woods is a good day.

Offline Rancid Crabtree

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Re: Homemade leather (and fur) chopper mitts
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2014, 10:53:49 AM »
The WBH mitts are coming together nicely. The bowhunter on this mitt was my own creation. The deer image I found on the web. The WBH and arrowhead was also my own design.











Any day in the woods is a good day.

 

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