I’m in the midst of a new project, a heavy-duty sewing-related project that, for the first time, is too heavy duty for my little sewing machine. My little workaround involves using my very own stitching awl, which is commonly used for sewing through leather goods but actually good for any heavy but penetrable material (and not to be confused with the woodworker’s scratching awl).
Using an awl is a new DIY effort for me, so this tool and I took a little time getting to know each other with a piece of scrap fabric. An awl is essentially a manual sewing machine, with the point and the thread hole on the same end of the needle. The technique allows lock stitches to form on both sides of the fabric, creating a very strong series of knots. Practicing the art of the awl and its subsequent lock-stitching technique first was really worthwhile, because it’s a process that took a little coordination and getting used to. And it makes me really appreciate an electric sewing machine.
It may be a little slower going than working with a common needle and thread, but it allows the user to use a heavier thread, which means a sturdier and stronger finished pieces. That’s why it’s such a good tool for leather-working, and it’s also used by sailors who are repairing canvases and masts on their boats.