floral patterns

Leather Floral Designs and Flow

If you have been involved in leather tooling for any length of time, you hear people talk about “Flow.”  Many of us understand the premise behind the flow of leather floral designs, and many times we think we know what that means.  But for some of us, we simply do not truly understand the concept of flow.

Defining Flow

For me “Flow” has always meant simply that whatever I draw within a pattern it should have the sense of movement and seem to be going somewhere and coming from some place. 

This seems simple enough right?

When we are laying out a pattern within the boundaries of the item or the tooling window, we have to take into consideration first where we are going and second where we are coming from.  These are the first two questions that I ask myself when I begin my layout.

Once we have a piece laid out in front of us and have determined the answers to these two questions, now we can determine the steps that we have to take to maintain the flow of the pattern.  The flow of leather floral designs is not something that can be miscalculated because you chose the wrong direction.  In floral layout, left to right or right to left is independent of flow.  This means that we can have flow within the pattern no matter if one direction looks better than the other.

The flow of a pattern is set by deciding on a direction and taking the viewer on that journey without interruptions.  Once the direction is decided, then the pattern layout is now bound by those directional choices as we begin layout.  Decisions must be made according to the direction we have chosen.

I see flow as my ability, as the viewer, to hop onto any point within a pattern with my eye and follow the pattern all the way through the piece.  If I hit a spot within the pattern that dead ends and I am left with no place to go, then the flow has ended.  There are times when this is appropriate but for now let’s just agree that we would rather not see this.

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How To Measure Belt Size

One of the biggest issues involved in making a custom belt is getting the belt blank cut to the right length.  Everyone has their own way of coming up with that measurement, but this is how to measure belt size.

Getting a Proper Measurement

“How do I figure out how long to cut the belt based on the belt size the customer gives me?”

“Can I use their pant size to figure belt length?”

“Is there some kind of belt size chart?”

First, I don’t accept a pant size or a marked size off the belt they wear.  This leaves too much to chance and more times than not will leave you remaking a belt.  The belt they are wearing may be a 36” but they may be wearing it in the tightest hole.  This would mean, depending on the hole spacing and number of holes on the belt, that they are probably closer to a 34”.

I’m sure there are some useful belt size charts that you can find on the web.  The problem with these charts is like I said above, the chart doesn’t take into account what hole the person is using on the belt.  I don’t feel comfortable using a chart to produce a belt for a customer.  It leaves too chance and I feel more confident with an actual measurement like the one I will show you here.

For all my customers, I make them measure the belt they wear currently.  This is important!  Not a belt they use to wear or one their husband wore in high school, but a belt they wear now.  Many a wife has been trying to surprise hubby for an anniversary and snags a belt out of his closet and brings it to me to measure and he hasn’t worn that belt in 15 years.  Now, in her eyes he is still the slim waisted stud he was then, but based on the fact that his new belt I made him didn’t fit, Mr. Stud put on a bit of post marital mass.  Keep your remakes to a minimum and demand a good measurement period.

How do we get a good measurement?  I measure, whether me doing it or letting them do it, from the bend to the hole they wear the belt in with the buckle style they will use.  Let’s define some key terms:

  • Bend: The point where the belt bends around the buckle hanger and snaps closed.  This does not include the flap that folds behind the belt.
  • “The hole they wear it in”: This doesn’t matter if it’s the tightest hole, loosest hole, or a hole they added in the belt.  Whatever hole they wear it in.
  • Buckle style: This is important because a trophy buckle will demand a shorter belt than a small ranger style buckle.  It does not have to be “the” buckle so long as it is of similar style.  All buckles are a little different but the style is the main thing here.  Trophy buckle or ranger style.

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Cutting Blank to Belt Size

Once you have stripped the belt blank off the blocked side in the width you want for the belt, you need to cut it for the customer’s size.  I figure this by adding 10.5” to the measurement from their belt.  So if they gave me a 34” measurement then I would cut their blank 44.5”.  The 10.5” comes from 3.5” for the flap that folds back at the bend and then 7” from the center hole to the tip.  If you want more tip to hang out past the buckle then you can make the tip measurement 8”… if you do this you would add 11.5” to their measurement instead of 10.5”.

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I have used this technique for many years and aside from a bad measurement here and there I have had very few problems and my fit is good every time.  This becomes very important when putting names in the back of belts or making tapered belts and keeping things centered and balanced.

For more information on making and designing custom belts follow the link below to purchase our new eBooklet!  This booklet touches on topics from sizing to finishing a custom belt.

how to measure belt size
Custom Belt eBooklet
$5 Download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Free patterns and patterns available for purchase, visit our Leather Tooling Patterns page often.  We are adding to this page as fast as we can!