As we strive for high-end quality, craftsmanship is one of the key pillars that Karu Atelier is firmly placed upon.
We have chosen to keep the entire process in-house. All our bags and accessories and are made entirely by hand in our own atelier, from the very first drawings and concepts, to the hand-stitched, finished product, ready to be united with its new owner.
By keeping the whole process in-house, we can guarantee consistent quality, and make sure that our production line is as sustainable as possible.
When crafting our products, we use traditional French and Italian methods. These methods have been used in saddlery and bag making for centuries. These techniques are very time consuming, as it takes anywhere from 6 to 30 hours to make our different models. The resulting aesthetics, quality, and durability, however, are unparalelled, which makes it all worth it a 100 times over.
1. Selecting leather and cutting pieces.
Firstly we select the best possible leather for the specific item that we are going to craft. Here we look at the tensile strength, temper, colour and general appeal. After the right leather has been selected, each piece is cut out by hand with special knives and scalpels. For intricate patterns we might use a paper template. Larger pieces are cut out free-hand or with a ruler.
When all individual pieces have been cut out, we bond the full-grain leather pieces directly on the the lining leather with eco-friendly glues. This creates highly durable leather panels that serve as both the outside, and inside of your bag. After this step we hot-stamp our logo and trademark into the leather, either with silver foil, or regularly embossed.
2. Perforating individual panels for stitching.
To be able to stitch the bag by hand, each of the individual components needs to have every single stitch hole perforated before the assembly process begins. For this we use a line groover to line out where the punctures have to be, and a pricking iron to make them. This tool has 6 sharp prongs in a row and can be punched through leather with a rubber mallet. This creates an even line of slanted holes in the leather. depending on the size of the project, the number of holes that need to be perforated can be from a hundred, to well into the thousands.
3. Assembly (Saddle-stitch).
When all the panels have been perforated, it is time to ensemble them together. Unlike most brands, we do not use a sewing machine. To do this we use a traditional saddle stitch. This particular way of stitching bags is done entirely by hand, and has been used in the craft of saddlery and bag making for centuries. This technique, however time consuming, results into a stitch-line that is unrivalled by a sewing machine in terms of both durability, and aesthetics. Depending on the intricacy of the design this means that our products have anywhere from a hundred stitches, to many thousands of stitches, all done by hand.
4. Edge coating and finishing.
Once the product has been stitched together, there is still a lot of work to do. Firstly we sand all of the edges, to make sure they are smooth, and as even as possible. After this, we use an eco-friendly acrylic edge paint which we apply by hand with an edge paint roller. Once the first layer has naturally dried, the edge is lightly sanded again, and another layer is added on top. Depending on how many layers of leather are stitched on top of each other, this process needs to be repeated, anywhere from 3 to 8 times.
When we are satisfied that the edge has enough coatings, we use a special heating tool to glaze all the edges. This ensures that all separate coats bond to each other, and to the leather edge. After the heat glazing, beeswax is applied to all the edges and burnished. A small amount of natural wax polish is applied, and the bag is buffed. The bag now has perfectly smooth, shiny edges, and is ready to be packaged.