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Stitch Awl Tutorial - Sweatband Installation

Brad Bowers

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Here’s my stitch awl tutorial. I apologize for some of the photos being out of focus. It was hard to tell at the time, and not very easy taking photos with one hand.


I use a Singer 70/9 sewing machine needle in my stitch awl’s chuck. I don’t have the thread wound onto the spool inside the awl, though, as I’ve never been able to open this one up, even with pliers. So, my thread remains loose, but I just have to make sure I have enough thread. I use enough thread to go around the crown four times, and cut off the excess at the end. Three times is about right, but I always like to have plenty to work with.

Before stitching, I mark off the stitch line with a tailor’s pencil.
StitchAwl1.jpg


The sweatband has already been basted in place and has been turned out for working. Make the initial hole, and pull one side of the thread all the way through, so that it remains on the inside of the crown.
StitchAwl2.jpg


When making each hole, I always tug down on the tape into the crown. This makes the sweatband fit snugly into the hat, and prevents it from extending below the brimline.
StitchAwl4.jpg



It’s easy to get into a rhythm with the stitch awl and the sewing goes by pretty fast.

This photo shows how you thread the end back through one of the loops. Always make sure you put it through the correct loop, or you’ll have to pull that stitch out and start it over again.
StitchAwl3.jpg


When I finish stitching, but before I tie it off, I go around to each stitch, and insert a letter opener and pull outward, taking up the slack. I do this on the outside and the inside. Even when you think you are pulling your stitches tight, you’ll still end up with a couple of inches of slack, which you take out with this step. This is a good habit to get into, even if you don’t use a stitch awl.
StitchAwl5.jpg


Finally, the stitching is finished.
StitchAwl6.jpg

StitchAwl7.jpg


Brad
 

Tango Yankee

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:eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap

Great demonstration, Brad! Many thanks!

Now I need to get myself one of those stitch awls... they look a lot less expensive then finding one of the antique sweatband sewing machines that aren't popping up everywhere!

Cheers,
Tom
 
wow!

That is so impressive, I am printing that off. and trying that. when I attemped to sew in a sweat, I used a needle and thread, it came out awful looking and was terrible!

do you pre-fasten the ends of the sweat before you sew it in? or do your leave the ends loos and let it "fit" it's way around that hat?

where's a good place to get sweatbands, I went to www.hatsupply.com and they have them for $7, but a minumun order of $35, which is more sweats than I'll ever need.

Thanks again fro the great info.
 

Brad Bowers

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4,187
RobFedoraField said:
do you pre-fasten the ends of the sweat before you sew it in? or do your leave the ends loos and let it "fit" it's way around that hat?

Sorry, just saw this. I sew the seam closed before I stitch in the sweatband. You can see the stitching in the photos.

Thanks for the kind words, guys. Hope this helps folks that want to do their own repair work.

Brad
 

scottyrocks

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Isle of Langerhan, NY
Brad, great tutorial, but I have some questions.

Are stitch awls and 70/9 sewing machine needles commonly available at sewing stores?

What does it mean to baste something in place?

What size and type of thread is that? It looks thick.

How do you pull the thread back through a loop? Although I can completely rebuild an African jembe drum, I am a complete sewing novice.

Thanks for any help. I cant wait to get started.
 

Brad Bowers

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4,187
scottyrocks said:
Are stitch awls and 70/9 sewing machine needles commonly available at sewing stores?

Stitch awls aren't but the sewing machine needles will be. I got mine at Wal-Mart. I picked up the stitch awl at my local Harbor Freight Tools store, but they're also available online.

scottyrocks said:
What does it mean to baste something in place?
A baste stitch is a temporary stitch to hold it in place while sewing the actual stitches. You can see the baste stitches in the first photograph, they're black, and right at the brim break. I sew through the existing holes where the tape is sewn to the sweatband. That way, I don't have to make unnecessary holes. You remove the baste thread once you're done.

scottyrocks said:
What size and type of thread is that? It looks thick.

It's upholstery thread, recommended to me by another hatter. It's a little thicker than what you'd use for sewing on a ribbon, but then, it needs to be.

scottyrocks said:
How do you pull the thread back through a loop?

It's probably easier to see in the instructions that come with the stitch awl, but one half of the thread will remain on the inside of the crown, and the other on the outside. When you pierce the crown with the needle, you push the thread into the crown, and then pull back slightly. This creates a loop that you put the inside thread through. Then you pull the needle back out of the crown, which creates the lockstitch. I know I'm not describing it properly. It's one of those things you have to see as you're doing it, and then you'll understand.

StitchAwl3.jpg


Good luck, and let us know how you do.

Brad
 

Bob Smalser

One of the Regulars
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139
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Hood Canal, Washington
These Speedy Stitchers are common and inexpensive on eBay, too. But they were originally a farmer's tool to repair harnesses, and to this day are designed for leather. They generally come with needles and thread far heavier than required for hats.

Brad's tip of heavy sewing machine needles and upholstery twine is one I'll use for other applications, too. Hadn't thought of that, thanks.

62497861.jpg


For more photos of the stitching awl in use, here's an old tutorial I did for boatbuilders on sewing rigging items. Using one is much easier than the traditional sailmaker's needle and palm:

http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19027
 

Wil Tam

Practically Family
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Location
Metropolis
Nice work!

I've been going through the leather using the existing stitching ... I haven't tried doing it the proper way because it was really difficult for me to get a straight even line ... probably because I did it with the awl inside the hat instead of out like you do it.

thanks for showing me the proper way of installing a replacement sweatband.

:eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap
 

Wil Tam

Practically Family
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670
Location
Metropolis
Bob Smalser said:
Look at the pounce wheel in the tutorial I posted. Spacing stitches what it does, and masking tape can be used as a batten or flexible straight edge.

62497566.jpg

I seen one of those as part of a leather working kit ... I need to pick up an edge trimmer also ;)

thanks for the info

great stuff here!!
 

Brad Bowers

I'll Lock Up
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4,187
Bob Smalser said:
Look at the pounce wheel in the tutorial I posted. Spacing stitches what it does, and masking tape can be used as a batten or flexible straight edge.

I use a pounce wheel to mark the holes for the stitches in the rear seam. Works great for that.

Brad
 

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