We are big on bags here at Sew4Home, which means we're always on the lookout for cool bag accessories; such as closures, handles, hardware, and more. One look we love is the addition of leather and faux leather handles (both pre-drilled and un-drilled), as well as medallions and patches. But, it can be a challenge to find the right tool to make securing these add-ons easy for all levels of sewers. Thanks to our friends at Dritz®, we have our go-to solution: The Speedy Stitcher® from Dritz Home, a sewing awl kit that makes attaching these kind of cool items, as well as many other tasks, fast and easy.
Our step-by-step tutorial below shows how The Speedy Stitcher can quickly attach one item to another as well as create an interesting line of hand-stitching as a decorative accent. You can find this tool at a wide variety of in-store and online retailers who carry the Dritz and Dritz Home brands. Our links take you to the kit at Amazon as well as to the replacement/alternate needles and additional waxed thread.
As we researched The Speedy Stitcher, we found many ways this little gem is being used: from shoe repair to hemming sails to making belts. There was lots of chatter about it also being an excellent repair tool for outdoor and camping equipment, and even car upholstery. It's a great little tool and actually fun to use.
The Speedy Stitcher kit from Dritz Home includes the awl, one straight needle, one curved needle, and a spool of waxed polyester thread.
As you can see in the photo above, the awl comes pre-threaded. The bobbin in the base of the awl contains waxed polyester thread, and you also get an additional 30 yard skien of the same thread in the main package. This provided thread is a great standard weight, but you can also purchase heavier and/or finer options separately.
If you want to work with different colors of thread, other than the kind of twine color of the supplied waxed thread, you can use a heavyweight sewing thread. The good thing here is you don't have to unwind the entire bobbin. Unwrap just a bit of the waxed thread to give yourself some room on the bobbin, then wind on the sewing thread. You only need to add enough of the new thread to finish your project.
The hole in the side of the awl, through which the thread must be inserted, is at a bit of an odd angle – especially when working with thread softer than the waxed thread. We found it was easiest to first thread the new thread onto a regular hand sewing needle, then pass the needle through the hole, pulling the thread through with it.
There are a few additional needle options as well. As mentioned above with the thread, you would want to switch to a finer needle if you choose a finer waxed thread or use your own heavy sewing thread.
These needles are sharp! They're meant to punch through very thick fabrics, which means they'd be happy to also punch into your skin. It's not dangerous, simply be aware. You could also work with a flexible thimble.
Take the time to unthread and pack the needles back into the ferrule (the metal band at the top of the handle), then screw on the chuck lock to cover the needle points. This way, there's no worry about getting poked next time you reach for your The Speedy Stitcher.
- The thread is in the bottom of the handle on a spool. Pull out the end cap to access the bobbin. This can be a bit tricky if you have long fingernails.
- Gently pull to unwind enough thread to complete your project plus about 3" extra. You are pulling the end of the thread, which should be already inserted through the slot at the top of the handle and through the hole in the top of the ferrule.
- Wrap the thread around the tack on the handle one time. This will create tension while sewing.
- Choose a needle and insert it into the threaded post. Push it in all the way until you feel it stop. Thread the needle. There's a groove at the top of the handle that acts as a thread guide.
- Replace the chuck lock and screw it down to secure.
The basic stitch: punch, loop, pull
- We're starting with an example of stitching through pre-drilled holes, using a Dritz leather patch we cut into a semi circle. We chose the Dritz Getta Grip® clips to hold the patch against the fabric. Clips are better than pins when working with faux and real leather.
- As noted above, we pulled through enough thread to go around the patch plus an additional 3" or so. The thread is inexpensive; it's much faster to work with more than you need than skimp and end up with not enough.
- At your starting point or first pre-drilled hole, push the needle into the fabric from front to back.
- Pull back on the needle just a bit to form a loop.
- Grasp the loop and pull the entire length of thread through to the back of the project.
- Holding the thread from both sides, pull the needle all the way back through to the front of the project until you have about half the thread length to the front and half to the back.
- Push the needle through the next insertion point or pre-drilled hole. Again, you are working from front to back.
- Pull back on the needle again, just as you did above, to create that little loop to the side of the needle. You only need to pull back about ½" to get the loop to form.
- Insert the free end of the thread through the loop.
- Hold the free end of the thread against the backside of the fabric (it's wrapping behind the needle) with your finger...
- ... as you pull the needle back through to the front. Keep holding the back taut while pulling the front thread taut as well.
- This creates the knot, which is buried between the front and back layers. The knot should not pull through to the front. You want the thread to be tight but not so tight the fabric bunches.
- Continue in this manner around your project: punch, loop, pull.
- It's especially easy to work along an edge because you can see both sides at once.
NOTE: If you get to a point where you need more thread to work with, pull the needle away from the front of the fabric to release a little slack from the bobbin.
- To finish, push the needle through from front to back at your final stitch point or final pre-drilled hole.
- Pull the needle back through about ½" once again, just as you have been doing to create the little loop, but this time, instead of feeding the free end of the thread through the loop, grasp the loop between your thumb and forefinger and pull through 2" - 3" of thread to the back side.
- Cut this pulled-through thread free from the awl. You want two thread tails, each about 2" - 3".
- Tie the ends into a square knot.
- Cut away the excess close to the knot.
Stitching without pre-drilled holes
- If you don't have pre-drilled holes, the process is the same, but you will need to mark your hole positions first. You can choose any spacing you want.
- Insert at your first marked point from front to back.
- Create the "grabber loop" by slightly pulling back on the awl.
- Grasp the loop and pull the entire length of thread through to the back.
- Pull the needle out and balance the thread. As above, you want about half the thread to the back and half to the front.
- Loop and pull your thread as shown above.
- Follow your marks along the project.
- Pull through and cut the final tails.
- Knot to finish, trimming away the excess thread.
- This makes a cool decorative accent, especially where you want more of a hand-sewn stitch to create a rustic feel.
Yay - it's awesome for pre-drilled handles
- The Speedy Stitcher also works great on pre-drilled purse handles.
- Punch, loop...
- ... knot and done. It really is speedy.
- We tested the soft denim shown above, as well as a thick faux vinyl shown below. Both worked great!