Monday, June 25, 2012

Tailoring Leather: Back Stay and Turn of Cloth

Staying focused on my leather jacket has become challenging now that summer has arrived. But I did get two important tasks done this weekend.

First, I created a back stay.  The back stay stabilizes the shoulder area and collar, keeping it from stretching out or distorting. It also supports the garment fabric and creates a more smooth line across the shoulder blades. My leather does have some give, so I figured that it should have a back stay to support it.

I made a pattern by tracing the back of the jacket onto tracing paper.

And then cutting it out of a firm muslin, using pinking sheers for the bottom edge.

Here it is basted into the jacket back. 

The other - and more difficult - task was dealing with the lapels. I wasn't happy with how they were lying on the jacket - once I tried attaching the shoulder seams they refused to lay flat - there was too much fabric on the underside of the lapel and it wasn't curving appealingly over the jacket bodice and around the neckline. I hadn't considered that turn of cloth would play a role with leather, but it appears that it does. Thankfully I had only basted the lapels to the bodice in the seam allowance and not on the seam line. So, there should not be any visible holes in the finished jacket.

To fix  the problem, I "pinned" (with binder clips) the lapels to the jacket front pieces while I was gently rolling the seams in the direction they will ultimately go and tugging the under collar so it peeked out a bit more at the seam allowance (since the undercollar needs to be a smidge smaller than the upper collar.) Then I trimmed the under collar. It made lining up and stitching the shoulders much easier. Now I think the lapels will look good once the jacket is finished and all the seam allowances are going in the directions they need to go.

Here's the jacket, with shoulder and side seams stitched, but minus the sleeves.

Lapels, back stay... all behaving

And in case you are curious to see the insides of the jacket front with my hair canvas interfacing, well, here you go. 

There seems to be plenty of guidance when it comes to actually sewing on leather, but less when it comes to tailoring a leather jacket. Consequently, I'm moving at a snail's pace and thinking through every step of this project as I go. It's mentally tiring sewing, if you know what I mean. And I'm having a hard time staying at it for hours at a time. I seem to do better tackling one small task at a time. The worst thing for my jacket would be if impatience lead to a mistake. So I'm keeping at it, but moving slowly and taking breaks.

To keep my sewing mojo up, I've decided to work on some shorter, easier projects while I finish up the jacket - nothing that requires much thought. Anyway, stay tuned because I'll hopefully have a new finished project in the next week.


skousgard said...

Your slow and steady pace seems to be working! It is really difficult to sew something like this when there is so little comprehensive guidance out there. I plan to learn from you! :-)

Clio said...

Oh no! I hope you'll take half of what I say as a cautionary tale! LOL

puu said...

i think it's the perfect strategy to break it down by task--and judging by what you've shared so far, it is working :-) keep it up at the pace that is right for you and i'm looking forward to seeing it, no matter when it gets finished!

Evie Jones said...

This is coming together so beautifully. You're doing an amazing job!

Sheila said...

Although tediously slow, you are doing an awesome job and the jacket is coming along beautifully.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

I definitely know what you mean about mentally tiring sewing--a method I avoid at all costs, heh. Your patience is really going to pay off.

T. Sedai said...

Looks like it is coming along! Though I do understand about mentally exhausting sewing and lacking desire to sew off season (I made a heavy wool coat in the middle of September so my sister could use it in Europe - very off season sewing and not even for me meant very limited desire to actually sew anything). I look forward to seeing what else you make in the next few weeks.