Cutting for Stitching

Sewing friendly laser cutting you should try


When you think “laser cutting”, the product that most likely come to mind are rigid cut out shapes or 3D objects assembled from flat planes.  However, laser cutting can work on a more tactile level, and there are materials available in the Ponoko/RazorLAB/Formulor/Vectorealism catalogues that enable a completely different kind of 3D making – sewing.  I’m talking soft materials, such as various thicknesses of leather and felt.  We have examples and free design files for each of these materials: russet leather camera case, felt shoulder bag, upholstery leather wallet

One of the great advantages of using these materials, is their fast cutting time.  As usual, there are a few tricks when it comes to working with leather and felt, especially when you’re designing for sewing.

Here are a few points to consider:

  • Thick material requires stronger & thicker thread, which means bigger stitch holes
  • Thicker material can have longer stitch length
  • Seam allowance: leather 2mm+, felt 5mm+
  • Will you use overcast or straight stitching for the seams?

MYI projects under the cut:

THE BAG

The A4 size bag is designed to be hand stitched together with ease, as the stitching holes are lasercut to ensure perfect, evenly spaced stitching.  This design is for 3mm felt and takes 10min 19sec to cut without any engraving (even faster if you’re cutting a solid panel rather than three strips).  The designs can be fitted onto a P3+P2, but you can use 3x P3’s of different colour felt to make two bags with contrasting panels.

The example shows a bag made of strips with ornamental stitching. The only reason it’s in strips is because I was working with offcuts, which happened to be that shape.  For the engraving I cheated a little and used one of my existing designs.

To complete the case you need:

  • 40mm wide belt buckle for the strap
  • 2 snap domes
  • Thick industrial thread (double layer)

Assembly:

  1. Stitch the three panels together creating the main part of the bag.  Length of the thread should be about six time more than the seam length, so there will be several stop/starts for each seam.  Don’t make the thread too long or it will tangle.
  2. Hammer on domes, making sure they face the right way
  3. Sew in buckle for the strap and stitch the straps together
  4. Attach straps to side panels
  5. Attach the side panels to the main part

So how strong is the bag? The samples below show nylon used as a binder.  This was done for two reasons.  Firstly, that was the only thread like material we had in the office, and secondly, but more importantly, it was used as a strength test.  It’s all very scientific.  Nylon cuts into the material and can cause it to rip.  After some strenuous pulling of both leather and felt, the seams remained intact.  If they work with nylon, they will work with industrial thread.  I recommend using thick gauge that will fill up the holes.

THE CASE

The design is for 2.5mm Russet leather, although thinner leather can be used.

It takes 1min 19sec to cut without any engraving (cheap!), and three designs can be fitted onto a P2.  If you are adjusting the design for a slightly smaller camera, it should be possible to fit four designs onto a P2.

To complete the case you need:

  • 10mm rivet if you’re making a strap and using 2.5mm leather
  • Snap dome (you will need a washer to pack the shank if you’re using thin leather
  • Thick industrial thread (double layer)

Assembly:

It’s easiest to start the stitching at the opening, sew down to the bottom corner and reverse back to the opening.  This will make it easier to tie the end knot.  Length of the thread should be about six time more than the seam length.

Here’s what’s available and from where:

Ponoko NZ: 3mm felt, 5mm felt, 2.5mm russet leather

Ponoko US: 3mm felt, 5mm felt, 2.5mm leather, 1mm upholstery leather

Formulor: 3mm felt

RazorLAB: 3mm felt

Vectorealism: 3mm leather

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