Hello! Roy and Tanya here. Earlier this year, we moved our workshop from a big shared warehouse in RiNo to a smaller space that better suits our setup and way of working. We’re excited to show you around!
Our new work space is on the north side of town at the edge of Globeville, one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, and one with a long history of blue collar industries. Although the building is tucked right under the intersection of two very busy freeways, it’s surprisingly quiet.
If we didn’t mention it before, we like old buildings! Our new home is on the ground floor of a brick building that was built in the 60’s to house the offices, dormitories, cafeteria, and services for the Denver chapter of the Salvation Army. The space we are occupying was once the chapel for the organization’s 30 residents and staff. Our landlords have allowed us to keep our plants right next door in the former cafeteria, where they enjoy lots of light from the hallway!
This is the former entrance to the chapel and the current entrance to our workshop. We are quite fond of the heavy wooden doors, the blond brick walls, the faux ‘terazzo’ floors (colorful chips set into a concrete slab), and the stained glass windows. The space has a really calm and quiet feeling about it–in part, we like to think, because of its previous purpose as a space for reflection, and in part because most of the time, we work by ourselves in here.
Since we moved out of our warehouse, we have somewhat streamlined our production and setup. You are now looking at 1400 square feet of leather equipment, sewing machines, tables, storage, tools, and materials. This is where we design, cut, sew, and assemble every item we sell. We also have our shipping area and office here: since we do everything ourselves, it’s nice to have it all under one roof!
Our products begin right here in the back of the room, as raw materials. Our canvas arrives on a pallet in giant rolls, which we store under our two big cutting tables so that it’s easily accessible. Here, we roll out and cut fabric for whatever we’re making: Garrisons, Backpacks, Dopp Kits, and Roll Ups—everything has its own pattern.
Next to our fabric cutting table is our leather cutting area. This is where we inspect our leather hides (which we order directly from the tannery) and then cut pieces to make our leather wallets, leather bags, bag handles and straps. That big boxy machine is our laser cutter, and it’s what we use to cut out our complicated wallet parts. It’s also what we use to etch the leather WS patches you’ll find on the inside pocket of your bag.
Next to the leather cutter is our manual die cutter. We used to have a big hydraulic press, but since most of our standard bag and backpack parts are fairly small, we have since downsized to this lever-operated press, which is still very heavy duty! This tool, along with custom metal dies for each specific leather part, allows us to easily make a large number of Backpack straps, Garrison Bag tabs, and handle parts in one work session.
Once we cut our leather pieces, we wax, buff and prep them on the large table in our leather area below. We sort and store all of our usable leather scraps in bins so that we can use them later.
This is small hand operated press is what we use to deboss our WS brand onto the leather zipper tabs for our Zip Bags. It’s one of the very first tools we ever bought when we first started Winter Session, and we still use it all the time!
And the small wooden clamp-looking thing at the far end of the table is what we use to hand stitch our leather wallets. It’s called a ‘stitching pony’–named because you can sit on the base like a pony, and because they were originally made to assist in stitching leather horse saddles. Its job is simple but important: to hold the leather pieces in place while we stitch our wallets, which requires two needles–and two hands.
This station is where we make the straps for all of our bags, backpacks, and shoulder straps. The machine on the left is a hand-cranked strap cutter, which trims a larger piece of leather into perfectly even strips, just like a pasta maker. Once the strips are cut, we cut them to length and then punch holes in them using custom metal dies set into our centering punch (that’s the tool with the long handle on the right).
We have a few sewing machines that we use especially for leather, but there is one that outperforms the rest. This is a very large walking-foot machine we call Hans. This burly machine was originally designed to sew horse saddles, but we use it mostly to stitch our leather Garrison, Day Bag, and Weekender handles. Hans is in good company with our other walking foot machines, where we sew on leather labels and assemble our leather Garrison Bags.
Across from our leatherworking area is our sewing cluster. We have six older straight-stitch industrial sewing machines along with a serger for overlock stitching. The vintage machines against the wall are specialized machines we’ve been collecting over the past few years. We have some fun ideas in mind about how we want to use them, but we’re not going to make any premature promises or we’ll get ourselves in trouble! 😉
We sew every one of our waxed canvas products, from Garrison Bags to Weekenders to Zip Bags to Planters, right here on these single needle sewing machines. We really like using Singer machines from the 60s, since they are made of metal, they last a long time, and we can still easily find parts for them.
Once our bags are sewn and the leather parts have been made, we move them across to our assembly area, where we attach the bag hardware (rivets, snaps, hooks, buckles, etc.) using a combination of table presses and a tall foot-operated press.
We then inspect and store our finished bags, wallets and small goods in plastic bins until someone places an order. As you can probably guess, we personally pack them up and ship them out right here!
Since most of our work happens in the rest of the workshop, we don’t need a very big office. This is where we print our shipping labels, order materials, send newsletters, answer your emails, and dream up new ideas and products. We’re quite fond of old objects and office supplies, and we’ve been gradually adding to our display of favorites from our archive. The wooden WS sign is left over from our flagship shop at Eyes Open in the Source Hotel.
In case you’re curious, here’s a bird’s eye view of our setup. So far the new layout is working well, and we have very little wasted space. We even have a little outdoor area where, if we have time, we’d like to plant a garden. In the meantime, it’s where we let our kiddo run around when he comes to visit.
We hope you enjoyed this virtual tour! We’re looking forward to sharing more about who we are and how we do things around here.