BRAIDED LEATHER STRAPPING

‘Braided Rawhide Strapping’

Leather strapping for handbag design can be made by braiding using the same leather skins used in the construction of the body of a handbag. Often rawhide thong (string) is used in leather braiding.  Rawhide (also called leather) is an animal skin (pelt) that has been stretched to dry and had its hair removed.

Rawhide is “raw” because it has not been tanned. To create tanned leather, a chemical is applied to the hide to relax the skin and make it soft. Most of the leather we use today in handbag design is tanned leather, but rawhide is still used to make many products; everything from handbags and clothing to building materials and tools.

Photo Credit: Justin McInteer, Autry National Center.

To prepare the rawhide string for braiding, a large circle is cut from the stretched animal skin. (Fig. 1) This circle is then cut in a spiral pattern creating a long continuous strip. (Fig. 2).

Braiding involves using a pattern that is repeated over and over again. As you work through these design styles, try to recognize the different patterns. Once you understand the pattern, the braiding will be easier to do. Braiding is a difficult skill to learn, so remember to be patient.

Before beginning braiding, try these helpful tips:

  • Take your time.
  • Look closely at the illustrations.
  • Read the instructions aloud.
  • Label each string with a letter (as shown in the illustrations) on a piece of masking tape.

THE THREE STRING “HAIR” BRAID

If you have ever braided someone’s hair, you might recognize the Three String Braid shown in the illustration below.

Photo Credit: Justin McInteer, Autry National Center.

Start with a strip of leather that has been cut into three strings. (Fig. 1)

Begin by pulling string A over string B.

Next pull string C over string A. (Fig. 2)

Then pull string B over string C. (Fig. 3)

Repeat until completed.

Can you see the pattern? The outside string always crosses over the middle string.

THE FOUR STRING BRAID

The Four-String Braid is similar to the Hair Braid except for the addition of an extra string. You can use this braid to make beautiful bag handles and straps. Remember, labelling your strings with letters will help you through the braiding process.

Photo Credit: Justin McInteer, Autry National Center.

Start with a strip of leather that has been cut into four strings. (Fig. 1)

Begin braiding by pulling string C over string B and under string A.

Next pull string B over string D.

Then pull string D over string A as shown in Fig. 2.

Pull string B under string A.

Now pull string C over string D and under string B.

Then pull string A under string C as shown in Fig. 4.

Next pull string D over string B and under string A as shown in Fig. 5.

Now pull string C under string D.

Next pull string B over string A and under string C.

Pull string D under string B.

Now pull string A over string C and under string D.

Next pull string B under string A.

Now pull string C over string D and under string B.

Can you see the pattern? The string on the right is pulled under the string closest to it. Then the string on the far left is pulled over one string and under one string, stopping in the middle.

Practice your rawhide braiding and add some leather details to your handbag designs.

Technical Information Source: Autry National Center’s Museum of the American West

4 Comments

Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Techniques

4 responses to “BRAIDED LEATHER STRAPPING

  1. Viera

    Hello, Don,

    Thank you for your work made and for lot of inspiration we can find in your blogs. My favorite is now the sling bag, I plan to try it and to use some old jeans as the material, combined with orange or red zippers. I still need to
    find the right design, maybe I will use some white denim as well, I do not know yet.

    I would like to add a remark to the braiding of four strings. There can be used a simpler pattern:
    – take two middle strings and pull the right string over the left one,
    – now four strings form two pairs, in each pair pull the left string over the right one,
    – again take two middle strings and pull the right string over the left one.
    Repeat the last two steps.

    I have learnt it from making bobbin laces and it is very simple and clear to do it like this. Hope that it can help to some one to figure out how to do it simply and fast.

    Greetings from Slovakia
    Viera

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