Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A project inspired by The Duke, John Wayne

John Wayne's last movie, The Shootist is my all time favorite of his and in this movie his character, J.B. Books wears a hat with a band made of diamondback rattlesnake skin that just screams "Wild West." Now that I live in Texas, I gotta have one!

I'm not about to buy one because every one that I see is way too gaudy for my taste, having fancy buckles, conchos, beads and fringe. The hat band in the movie is very basic ... just the skin with a double loop buckle.
There's no lack of sewing machines around here, but most of them mom has setup for quilting. I've been dragging this old Singer 99K around with me for about 7 years ... way too long for it to be idle. The first part of the project is to clean, lube, test and adjust the ol' Singer and then get it setup for leather crafts.

After cleaning out 50 years of dust, thread and other debris, a thorough lube job, belt adjustment and fiddling with the tension, I was able to make very good stitches with heavy thread and a leather needle through two layers of fleeced vinyl.

Found this table on craigslist for $20. I mounted the machine to the left to avoid having to make a spacer.

First, I had to have a hat to put a band on. I found and won this beat-up old Stetson with an ugly macramé style band and ridiculous, pink feather on eBay for $2.05. It turned out to be in never worn condition, just bent up from lack of proper storage. I removed the band and feather, bent the brim back into shape and steamed the rest of it back into something that resembled a western hat.

It's looking a LOT better! I have another hat that needs a band and now that I know I can make rattlesnake skin bands like this, I'll do a detailed "how to" for the next hat band. This band cost me around $25 in materials. They retail for $50 and up!

Items that I used:

Suede strip, 1 1/2" wide x 42" long, available here (click)
Concho, Texas Star, Scalloped, available here (click)
Rattlesnake Skin (I don't have a reliable, continuous source yet)

Other items that I used: