The art and craft of glove making

 

There is nothing modern in the way the Thomas Riemer gloves are made: his father’s patterns for dress gloves developed in the ’60, old sewing machines, even century-old, and tools of the trade, old techniques and the skills of elderly craftsmen who have been making gloves since more than 40 years.

The leathers are carefully selected and resourced from some of the best Austrian, German, Finnish, French or Swiss tanneries. With one Austrian tanner, Thomas Riemer worked for three years to develop a special goatskin which has one colour on the upper side and another colour on the reverse side. Gloves manufactured in this two-tone goatskin, sewn by hand, sometimes with multicolour threads, have now become one of the Thomas Riemer signature gloves.

In Hungary, the cutters are preparing each leather skin by soaking it overnight and then stretching it. A well fitting glove must have the right length and the right tightness. When worn, it should stretch little and only in width and it should mould in time after the wearer’s hands. Only a very experienced glove cutter, who cuts the leather by hand, can judge its character and decide how much to soak and stretch it and in what direction to cut it to aim for perfection.

After the cutter makes the rough cut with the scissors, he signs the leather and makes then the precise cut using the steel knives corresponding to each pattern. The seamstress fits all pieces and sews them together with a sewing machine. If the gloves are lined, the lining is inserted into each glove and sewn at the fingertips and at the wrist edge. When ready, the gloves are ironed, for the last finishing touch.

The hand sewn gloves are made in the same way, with one exception. After cutting, the fitted pieces go to one of the dozen seamstresses who work from home. They are the ones with the 'golden hands' that can stitch leather with outstanding mastery and precision and without any prior signing or piercing to guide their stitches. Such an experienced seamstress can make only three pairs of entirely hand sewn gloves a day.