leather handbag designer

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The American Handbag Designer's Experience

  My first formal training of note was as a machinist and it has been an invaluable asset. I have been able to adapt and repair my own machinery, make dies, and special tools that make my shop efficient and my products finished to a high standard. I am still a machinist at times and have a 9" South Bend Lathe in my workshop.
  I have been working in leather since a strange twist of fate introduced me to leather work in 1970 and saved me from a long career with Pratt & Whitney Aircraft in the Materials Control Lab. I found that it provided the perfect medium for creating useful as well as artistic products. In 1971 I opened my first leather shop and in 1972 I moved into my own restored building and became ‘The Norwich Leather Co.’.  (Upper Right)

  My engineering background which consisted of such things as Business Organization and Management, Mechanical Drafting and Metallurgy, was well suited to this endeavor, and by the 80’s I owned and ran a factory making Handbags, Shoes, Jackets, Vests, Wallets, etc. for my store as well as for other individuals and companies who sold them as their own.
  Since then I have also done extensive work with sails, upholstery, and canvas awnings on yachts. This experience has given me insight into the creative possibilities of combining leather with state of the art sail making technology and products. The waterproof bonded lining fabric is a result of this experience. This lining is actually as strong and well suited to it's purpose as the leather itself.
  I have sailed thousands of miles off shore, many of them alone, from Nova Scotia to Grenada, in China Clipper shown below. The sails, sail cover, bimini and dodger are my work.

Sailing in West Indies  Today as LeatherGoodsConnection.com I still design and make leather goods to sell directly to the public. There are no middlemen, you are buying directly from the source. I personally make these items in my private studio in North East GA., one at a time. This allows me to offer the customer a quality product tailored to their preferences at the lowest possible price.
  For you environmentalists, the smoke over the bow is the town dump on Nevis W.I.

  Mr. Hibbard known for his work both nationally and internationally, has been awarded the prestegious title of DESIGNER CRAFTSMAN by Francis Burdett-Mills MCIPD of Norwich England. 

 Look for these Quality Construction Methods
  My leather goods rival those of the biggest names in the industry and are not imported mass produced goods. Shop other web sites as well as factory outlet stores and compare price and quality for yourself.
  Let me suggest some things to look for. Obviously, an important consideration is the leather itself, which I deal with under Leather & Materials.
  Another thing to look at is the "Findings". These are the hardware items. The cheapest thing to do is to not have any. For instance, just sew the straps on with a box stitch with an X in the middle. The next cheapest is to use plated zinc cast buckles and hardware that are coated with a dark lacquer and perhaps called, "Antique brass finish".
  Another consideration is the thread, which is sold by the pound. Most or all makers use #69 nylon, "sewn with heavy nylon thread". I use # 128 which is twice as heavy and adds to the look as well as strength. Linings are important also. Once again the cheapest is to not have any and call it "Fully Leather Lined". The next is to have a thin synthetic lining, which can sometimes actually be worse than none at all. My lining is way past that and is discussed under, Hi-tech & Leather.

  The complexity of the design and degree of finish are other things to look for. Sewing two flat pieces together with raw edges either inside or out is the cheapest and easiest, but can still read well, i.e. "... a slim pouch with one inside compartment, fully leather lined, sewn with heavy nylon thread". The raw edges may not be visible to the casual observer because they are coated with a plastic edge coating. Even some of the biggest names use this short cut.
  My goods have turned and folded edges or bound edges with no raw edges visible on the inside. There are a lot of practical pockets and zipper pockets, as well as the welt seams, adding to the complexity of the design . The machines below are each used for just a few of the many operations required in the production of the soft bags I make today.
  I have adapted the cylinder machine  on the left to sew on the binding that I use around the edges of most of my products. The machine on the right I am rather fond of. It was the first NEW machine that I ever bought and was a big expense at the time. It is a copy of a commercial Singer style, except they overlooked one important thing. This oversight causes the thread to catch under the hook every time you stop sewing if the hook moves backward even the slightest amount, which is something this machine is prone to do. This was extremely irritating until I figured out what caused it and modified the machine. It is now a joy to use and has been with me through making garments, shoes and sail making.

Leather Handbag Binderleather handbag machine  Before I close, lets not forget straps. Are they just a strip of leather with the edges dyed, maybe with stitching on each edge for no apparent reason, or are they skived, folded and sewn so that the strap is finished on both sides with no raw edges, which uses more than twice as much leather but gives a more finished product? When looking through my products notice the strap attachments which are sewn, reinforced and riveted as well as the leather "Keeper" loops above the solid brass "Dee" rings on the adjustable straps, which most makers never even consider offering. This is part of the attention to detail I give my products that the discerning eye will appreciate.    Contact me, all mail answered promptly.

by  Henry Hibbard

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