Grenson Dylan Review


So, I’ve been pining for a pair of Grensons for a long, long time, but have never pulled the trigger until recently. My biggest hesitation was that there’s no close retailers to try them on, and I wanted to make damn sure they fit right before ordering from the UK. Seems there’s a retailer in Los Angeles somewhere, but after see how the dollar is pleasantly strong against the euro, I could get a much better deal with not much shipping cost from the UK.  Part of this post is a review, but part of it is to confirm that the sizing conversion is actually excellent for any one else that’s having the same hesitation.

If you’re familiar with quality constructed shoes, you’ve probably heard of Grenson, and you know what it takes to make a solid, Goodyear Welted shoe. Creating a shoe this way through the Grenson assembly line takes about three weeks. Figure your own hourly rate, multiply that by three weeks, then see how that compares to the cost of a pair… they’ll look like a STEAL. Considering a shoe like this will last 10+ years with proper care and resoling, you’re doing yourself a huge favor.

I’ve always loved the styling of Grensons. They use the classic brogue styling, but always seemed a twist more modern than Aldens and the like. I want a classic wing-tip, but I don’t necessarily want to look like a 60 year old banker. I went with the Dylan model with a red brick rubber sole. Seemed more appropriate for summer, even though it’s about over. Having the rubber sole makes these very light, and they are unlined, so they’re much cooler in warm temps too. The leather is just the right about of sturdiness without being too hard for a mean break-in. In fact, they felt perfectly comfortable after only a couple wears. I’ve worn them plenty in the past few weeks and they still look brand new.

photo credits to Lisa Warninger

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Hand Sewn Passport Cover

You’ll need some tools:
  • knife
  • cutting mat
  • metal ruler
  • stitch spacer (overstitch wheel)
  • leather awl
  • two leather needles
You’ll need a few materials:
  • leather
  • waxed thread
  • contact cement
  • beeswax

Have passport, will travel… yes. Have passport in a hand-sewn leather case? JET SETTER. Here’s a little project done for Design*Sponge’s travel theme – a lesson in leather hand sewing that we can use for a passport cover, or just about any small case-like thing you can think of. Hand sewing leather is easy, but a few key steps will make it even easier. Sadly, it doesn’t make it much faster… get ready to earn this case with a couple hours of work. You’ll need a small amount of leather and a few inexpensive tools.

You’ll need enough leather for the main cover and two interior flaps. Cut your cover to 7 5/8 wide and 5 1/2 inches tall. Each interior flap is 5 1/2 tall and 2 1/2 inches wide. Position your pieces together, mark where the flaps will reside, then lay pieces separate and apply contact cement to the outer edges. Leave cement to dry completely, then press the pieces together to adhere. Having your pieces properly secured will make stitching so much easier.

Take the entire assembly and place flaps down on the table. place your ruler 1/8 in from each edge and run your stitch spacing tool along the edge. This will mark the leather in a uniform pattern, indicating where each stitch will be placed. Apply plenty of pressure to get a good mark.

After all edges are marked, press through each with the awl. I usually punch into another piece of heavy leather, so the awl makes a deep mark for passing the needles though.

Once your case has all the holes pressed, you can thread your needles and begin sewing. To thread a needle, put thread though the eye as normal, then bring it to the point and poke through the thick of the thread. Pull the end down the needle, over the eye completely, then slightly tug the long end of thread to secure. With normal sewing this should be secure. For more security, you can wax the threads together with some more beeswax. After both ends of a long piece have been threaded with needles, you can begin hand sewing by pulling the thread to its half-way point into the cover.

Stitching should be completed in a crossing motion through the leather – each needle passing through the same hole, being careful not to stitch though the thread. As you work your way around the piece, pull the stitches tight to keep a clean appearance. Stitching on a lacing pony or a vice is the best way, but buying one might be more of a commitment for just one project. If you’re going to be hand sewing more leather projects, a lacing pony is a must. Also, for a comprehensive lesson on hand sewing, check out “The Art of Hand Sewing” by Al Stohlman. It’s a bible for this type of project.

Hand sewing is a long process, but take your time as you do it, relax, make sure your stitches are clean and tight and the finished project is definitely worth it. Once you’ve completely made it through all edges, you should back-stitch 3 holes to secure your thread, then carefully cut the ends free. After the sewing is done, you can flatten the stitches with the overstitch wheel. This will press your thread into the leather and clean up the appearance of your stitches. Finally, you can round the edges with a knife or some scissors, wax the edges and burnish with your finger, then grab that passport and book your trip.

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Kubb, a Swedish lawn game

You’ll need some tools:
  • saw for ripping - table saw works best
  • saw for cutting - miter saw or hand saw
  • sander
You’ll need a few materials:
  • one 6ft long 4"x4" post - untreated fir, pine
  • Danish oil or other oil finish
  • sandpaper
  • rag to apply finish

My kind of sports involve hanging out with friends, and most of the time having a drink. Bowling seems to be what we do most of the time, but now that it’s sunny and nice out, it feels strange to be indoors while there’s daylight. Bocce is fun, but it requires a very specific court condition that is not easy to create. Enter Kubb, a Swedish lawn game. It’s easy to make a set, and it’s much safer to drink and play Kubb than it is to bring out your antique set of lawn darts. A set can be made with nothing more than a clothes rod, a 6ft 4×4 post, and a saw.

The most inexpensive way to build a set is to start with a 6ft 4×4 post and some dowel clothes rods from your nearest lumberyard. Official Kubb makers suggest using a hardwood, since you’re going to be hucking the pieces at each other, but for the occasional Kubb match you should be fine with a Douglas Fir post or whatever is best grown in your area (Do not buy pressure treated lumber for this – the chemicals in there are numerous and released when the wood is cut). Being the wood snob that I am, I actually went with some Western Walnut shorts from Goby Walnut, but this is only because it’s nearly as cheap since they salvage lots of old Walnut trees. It was about $30 for enough walnut to create all the pieces. I used Birch dowels for the batons, which are inexpensive and readily available at most wood/hardware stores. If you’re having trouble finding dowels large enough, you can always use a wooden clothes rod.

You can cut your main pieces all from the 6ft post, which makes buying materials easy. First cut a 12” section off for your King piece, then you’ll need to rip the remaining stock down to a 2.75” x 2.75” size. This is most easily done on a table saw, or if you have a guide attachment on your circular saw, that works well too. Once you have your post slimmed, cut into equal lengths for each Kubb piece. Typically each piece is 6” tall, but will be slightly less to accommodate the amount a blade takes out with each cut. Once all pieces were cut, I beveled all the edges wish a sander and used the table saw to make some decorative cuts into the King. You can really carve some interesting shapes, cuts and crowns into your King, even add some painted stripes to make it stand out.

You’ll need a 6ft clothes rod dowels to make your batons, which should be cut to 6 equal lengths. As for field marking stakes, you can use any size of dowels, since their purpose is to just mark field territory. If you can get an 8ft clothes rod, just cut 6inch stakes out of that extra bit.

After cutting all pieces, I roughly sanded everything and coated the field pieces with Danish oil. This part isn’t really necessary, but the oil will provide some protection when you’re launching the pieces around. Oil is a good choice, since it soaks into the wood and hardens, whereas a polyurethane is a surface based protector. When you’re dinging field Kubbs with a baton, the oil won’t chip like poly could.

As for playing the game – it’s strategic, but easy to grasp. You can play with 2-12 folks, and a match can last between 20 minutes to a couple hours depending on how good your aim is. There’s lots of places for good instructions here and here, and plenty of funny videos – two of the more interesting ones are here and here.


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The F/M x W&F D-Ring


I’ve been recently talking with Darian Hocking of Free/Man, for which I’d been a fan of his blog since its start. I was excited because we had been discussing of some type of collaboration… but we hadn’t finalized anything yet. Then he asked if I’d ever made a ring belt before. I had not, and up to that point, I really only thought I needed one belt. I have a pretty simple day-to-day uniform and I’d been wearing my project belt everyday for over six months – figuring I’d probably just wear that until it broke. Though after our talk, I got excited to try something new and I headed directly to the tack supply store to get some rings. I came home with some standard rings and a pair of d-rings. The d-rings worked much better, since they would lay flatter with heavier leather and put less stress on the buckle end. Once I made myself a prototype, I was instantly sold on the design.

The belts are made from North American steer hides tanned in the English bridle fashion with solid brass or nickel plated brass rings. Edges are beveled and finished with beeswax on the tan and dye and wax on the darker colors. The English bridle leather is extremely durable, yet very flexible – perfectly suited a belt. The waxes and oils used in the tanning process lock securely to the d-ring setup and will look more and more amazing as the belt ages. Each is stamped with our collaborative logo, on the underside of the buckled billet end.

From Darian: I met Matt Pierce of Wood&Faulk earlier this year through a mutual friend. Before I met him, I had greatly admired his craft, which is chock full of do-it-yourself projects around the house.

I had been searching for a dual brass ring belt, but had not yet found one that made sense for me. Matt and I have similar personalities and get along well, we both wanted to make a special product together and at a respectable price point for our customers + readers. After a bunch of conversations, we ended up going with these one inch and one and a half inch english bridle leather belts, with solid brass D-rings versus a traditional buckle. There’s something so simple about dual ring belts. They are a classic design, and have been around for a long time.

Tan/Brass belts launch today in the W&F store with brown and nickel hardware options launching in a few days. Supply for Free/Man will be in stock by Friday, August 12th.

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