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The adventures of a frustrated leatherworker - Tactical Ninja

May. 27th, 2013

10:02 am - The adventures of a frustrated leatherworker

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So in this week's exciting parcel deliveries (hopefully), we have half a cow butt. No really, that's what it's called.

Y'see, bright shiny lights making hypnotic patterns are all very well, but if you are serious about messing with the hippies, they need to be portable. The plan was always to use a tutu format for the support structure, but I can't just wrap a cable around myself (well I could but that would be asking for spontaneous human combustion), so it has to be mounted on a belt. And in order to carry all the gubbins (currently a battery, voltage regulator, and microcontroller, with likely addition of an accelerometer and some sensors in the future) there needs to be a bunch of pockets of the right size and shape. I guess I could have just bought a festival belt, but a) that's cheating, b) the pockets need to be specific sizes to accommodate the things, and c) look at them. Some are really cool, but a lot are based in I'm-a-unicorn-riding-fairy delusion, and I'm not really a unicorn-riding-fairy kind of girl. I'm thinking more of Batman's utility belt styling, but with more LEDs.

So anyway, seeking the parts to make this became my mission for yesterday.


First I went to Global Fabrics, because they have leather sometimes. Turns out the leather they have is for making clothes out of, and has lovely drape and sewability, costs about $200 a bit, and in belt format would be far too stretchy. So I tried Made on Marian, our local specialty craft supply shop. This one had leather of the right weight - for $30 per 100g, and in bits that were about 30cm by 30cm. I'm not sure what you'd use bits of leather that size for, but again, no use to me.

So then I walked out to Kaiwharawhara, to the Spotlight shop. Surely a large chain that specialises in sewing, upholstery, curtainmaking and general crafts would have leather? But nope. Not even in the upholstery section. And the craft section is something to behold - not in a good way. Used to be that Spotlight sold whatever you needed to make whatever you wanted, in individual units. Now it seems to be mostly kits. So I could make a predetermined pattern of Thing using a selection of colourways - but if you want to make a particular unique wotsit, it seems finding the parts at Spotlight is now a hit and miss affair.

Things I needed: leather suitable for making belts and bags, waxed thread, press studs, 10mm double sided hook and loop tape, hole punch, rectangular loop, billet hooks.

Things Spotlight had: press studs (in packets of not quite enough so you have to buy two, tool not included), hole punch.

Oh yeah, and granny trolleys. They did not look like this:



But they did have one in plain black, which I bought because we are tired of carrying grocery bags 1km home every time we do the shopping. Or, Dr Wheel is - I do the vegie market usually and that's not as far. So yeah, now we will be rocking the granny trolley. I am tempted to cover it in silver studs and spikes..

So anyway, after coming home from Spotlight in disheartenment I tried TradeMe (kiwi equivalent of eBay). There was leather, but nobody seemed to know much about their leather. Me: "Hi, can you tell me the thickness of your leather in mm please?" Them: "Perfect for making clothes!" Uh.. right then.

So eventually I found a wholesaler online, NZ based because shipping animal products here from overseas can be fraught. Actually I found a heap of them - these guys were the best. They had all the bits and bobs I needed, and also sold me half a cow butt (9 square feet)*, which should cover my needs with some left over for dressing up the granny trolley. Or for making a codpiece, maybe. Bitches love codpieces!

*cough*

* I have no idea why these are measured in square feet either.


From this I have concluded that the internet is a wonderful thing, but also that it's likely that the reason these supplies are not available in shops is because of their specialty nature, and shops can't compete with the internet on price for things that they'll only sell a bit of occasionally. Which in a lot of respects is a bit sad. When I was a kid, my Mum did leatherwork, and she bought all her stuff in craft shops (and we luckily had a local tannery). Nowadays it seems the only way to get these things is online. Is the internet killing local suppliers and turning shops into places that only sell boring stuff for the mass market, or is it a great way to get the best deal on exactly the thing you want because everything is available? I can't decide.

Apart from knitting stuff. Knitters are apparently a force to be reckoned with, and everyone still caters to them. I'd probably cater to an army of folks armed with sharp pointy things too tbh.

Comments:

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From:pombagira
Date:May 26th, 2013 10:29 pm (UTC)
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ohh leather.... :)

yay!!
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From:morbid_curious
Date:May 26th, 2013 11:18 pm (UTC)
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I've hung around with SCA people long enough to have heard of Lapco before - I gather they're about the best generic leather suppliers in New Zealand.

If you do have any further leather or leather supplies related questions, I could always forward them on - I know at least a couple of people in the greater Wellington area who have some expertise in such areas.

With regard to places like Spotlight... I think what you're seeing there is a craft chain management style based largely around inertia. There are a lot of things they could do better and (if my flatmate's store is anything to go by) they aren't done because "that's not the way we do things here". Sigh.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 26th, 2013 11:20 pm (UTC)
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Thing is, Spotlight used to be awesome. But their range has narrowed and narrowed and now they have about half of their craft aisles dedicated to kits - and 2 full aisles for party supplies like folding cardboard hats and the like.

It's true, I hadn't thought of SCA folk to ask about leather supplies. Duh.
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From:russiandolls
Date:May 26th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
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I went to Spotlight a while back and asked for tweed fabric... Then had to explain to the woman behind the counter what I meant *cries*

(They didn't have any.)
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From:tatjna
Date:May 26th, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC)
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That is just sad. No wonder folks don't really go there any more.
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From:russiandolls
Date:May 26th, 2013 11:55 pm (UTC)
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Also, the Fabric Warehouse has recently moved in next door. There's just no comparison.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 26th, 2013 11:56 pm (UTC)
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Hang on, next door to where? Because I would love to go visit them instead of spotlight.
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From:russiandolls
Date:May 26th, 2013 11:58 pm (UTC)
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Between Spotlight and Animates, where the Pot Warehouse used to be I think.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 26th, 2013 11:59 pm (UTC)
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ZOMG I didn't know! Next time I'm out there I'm totally skipping Spotlight!
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From:russiandolls
Date:May 27th, 2013 12:03 am (UTC)
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Yay! Happy I could help :-)
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From:bekitty
Date:May 27th, 2013 12:41 am (UTC)
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Rumour has it that the Pot Warehouse moved away because they were getting sick of being continuously raided by the cops.
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From:russiandolls
Date:May 27th, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)
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Hehehe... They've actually moved to Petone, I suspect they're not exactly off-the-radar there either.
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From:bekitty
Date:May 27th, 2013 04:46 am (UTC)
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Somebody should chuck a pair of shoes up on the telephone wires outside their new premises. Because that would be hilarious. :D
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From:dianavilliers
Date:May 27th, 2013 04:54 am (UTC)
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For future reference, Made Marion also has leather and some leatherworking kit - punches, waxed thread, and that sort of thing.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 27th, 2013 06:03 am (UTC)
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Unfortunately, it seems they cater more to the clothes/bag making end of the market, and their leather is very expensive. I did look there first, honest! But they will definitely be handy for when I run out of thread..
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From:wildilocks
Date:May 27th, 2013 10:24 am (UTC)
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If you get extremely into leatherworking (I know unlikely, but there's always the possibility...) next time you are in Melbourne you should definitely visit Leffler. It's the biggest collection of Leather and Random Leather Related Bits and Stuff I have ever seen, and you can wander about with (relatively) gay abandon. Because they are a large supplier and do wholesale but also retail, they seem to be surviving the cull of small crafty supply businesses that has occurred over the last while. Spotlight has for some time headed toward being a "homewares" store more than a craft store, but I think they choose their stock based purely than stupid old thing - what sells the most. Unfortunately, 95% of ppl are not actually very crafty or creative enough to come up with their own bloody ideas :/
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From:forestgreenivy
Date:May 27th, 2013 03:20 pm (UTC)
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It is interesting how the internet is wonderful and terrible. I do like we can find obscure things, but it does take away from shops; it also takes away from in-store buying/browsing satisfaction. Also, it is sad what shops are left on the high streets. Nothing special really.
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From:pundigrion
Date:June 7th, 2013 03:15 am (UTC)
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Sadly I still have these issues as a Knitter too. Actually they pop up more for spinning, but oddly if I want to buy local yarns I have to do it on-line!
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