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Thread: Leather and fur chopper mitts (fingerless gloves)

  1. #1
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
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    Default Leather and fur chopper mitts (fingerless gloves)

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



    Alís mitts were warm and simple and utilitarian and kept myhands warm while hunting all these years. For many years I have wanted to makemy own mitts. The recent cold snap and the increase in my sewing project got meagain interested in trying my hand at sewing my own mitts. If there was anythingI would change about Alís mitts it would be the length and the liners. They didnítgo up the arm enough to cover the cuff of a jacket. I plan to make mine a bitlonger and plan to have mine be skin side out (rather than the suede side outlike Alís). Also Alís mitts did not have a removable liner. The faux fur heused was sewn into the leather mitt. I plan to make my liners removable so ifthe liners need drying the liner can be removed to speed drying and to be ableto care for the liner separately from the leather since leather doesnít likethe heat I would use to dry the liner.

    Then when I use the snow blower I wont have cold wrists andforearms. the longer cuff will make them warmer for hunting and ice fishing aswell.

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



    As well as fur



    The liners will be a dual layer of Polartec fleece closestto 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 forthe liner and another pattern for the leather mitt. Because I want a longer mittthat fits over the bulky sleeve of a winter jacket I had flare out the longercuff. I will start with the fleece and wool liner and then make a mitt thatfits over the liner. Here is the pattern I came up with. Its 3 pieces with afolding thumb.



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



    The two materials are sewn together to keep them fromshifting 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 Ineed to join the two pieces together to form the thumb. The three picturesbelow 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 (Iímworking to make sure that wonít happen) The wool outside of the liners is givena spray coating of silicone waterproofer.



    With the liners finished its time to make the leather outermitt. Again I need a pattern. Theleather mitt thumb will be a bit different than the thumb in the liner. Thiswill 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 fora size check. Iím glad I did at the thumb was a bit long so I shortened thepattern (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 showdirt and stains pretty easy so I am going to stain the thumb and palm side witha mixture of brown and Ox blood with a little alcohol to thin it out since I donítwant a solid color. Once I oil the leather it will darken considerable fromthis 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 timeto embellish the back of the mitt. I sewed on a strip of the same fur and addedthe Edge protection since the leather edge will curl and wrinkle over time ifit not sewn.



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



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



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



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


  2. #2
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
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    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 thes tained 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 forherself. She wants different colors and symbols on hers.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    You are a man of many talents, I admire that and think those are a fine looking set of mitts!

    Tell me about your sewing machine, I want to make a chest pack to hold my binos and need a machine that will sew thicker material than the one I have now.

    Well done!

    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
    Founding Member
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    Member bobmikk's Avatar
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    Grew up wearing choppers when I hunted or shoveled snow in da'UP. I have a 2 pairs still, and prefer to use them vs. other gloves.

    Your gloves look very nice and made with a special touch as well. Good job!

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    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    You are a man of many talents, I admire that and think those are a fine looking set of mitts!

    Tell me about your sewing machine, I want to make a chest pack to hold my binos and need a machine that will sew thicker material than the one I have now.

    Well done!

    Steve
    Its a Singer 404 slant needle. You can pick them up for very little money on Ebay. They were made in the 50's and are gear drive (no belts) I cant stall mine no matter what I put under the foot, it will sew. You need to use a denim needle for the tough stuff but this machine rocks.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-SING...item35d05d6bf7

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rancid Crabtree View Post
    Its a Singer 404 slant needle. You can pick them up for very little money on Ebay. They were made in the 50's and are gear drive (no belts) I cant stall mine no matter what I put under the foot, it will sew. You need to use a denim needle for the tough stuff but this machine rocks.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-SING...item35d05d6bf7
    Thanks Sir!!
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
    Founding Member
    http://www.residenthuntersofalaska.org/

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    Very nice work! Those look great.

    Scott

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Another great tutorial. You sir, rock!
    They look awesome.
    BK

  9. #9
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
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    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.




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