Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Leather Jacket Details & Review!

Now that I've done my victory dance, here is what I hope is a more thoughtful and slightly less giddy post about the end results and process. 

So, this epic leather jacket process started with a crush I had on BurdaStyle 07/2010 - #118/119 which was designed to be sewn in leather. I made the version with the peplum and zipper (118) but used the one piece lapels from the other version (119) rather than piecing them.

The thing that I was most worried about with this jacket was sewing on leather, a new experience for me.  Are there a few things that I would do differently? Yes, there are. But they mostly have to do with Burda's so-so instructions, rather than anything to do with the leather or sewing it. Here are a few of my keys to success for leather:
  • There are some great resources in print like Sewing on Leather and Suede by Sandy Scrivano (reviewed here), and several other bloggers have chronicled their experiences sewing leather (Lindsay T, Gorgeous Ann, the Sewing Lawyer and Kbenco) in great detail.
  • Muslin. This is not the project to be fitting as you go.
  • Buy quality if you want quality results. I spent an inordinate amount of time on this jacket and I plan to own it for years. I bought beautiful leather (at Mood) that was not inexpensive but is of a quality that I think will last. Every time I pull the jacket on, it feels soft and luxurious.
  • Test, test, test. Test your sewing machine(s) and presser feet, test the products you want to use (glue, tape, etc), test seam finishes and top stitching. Test it all. That way, when it comes to actually sewing, you won't be figuring things out as you go. You will know the tools and techniques you want to use.
  • Use the right tools. For me this included buying a rotary cutter and mat (a great investment, IMHO), binder clips rather than pins (Wonder Clips if you can find them), and proper pressing tools (seam boards/rolls, a pressing cloth, etc) if you choose to do as I did and press your seams.
  • Turn of cloth - just as true in leather as other fabrics. This was a surprise to me.
  • Leather is not difficult to sew, but you want to be thoughtful and alert. Don't rush. Do-overs mean holes in your leather. (I may have taken this non-rushing thing a bit too far).
  • As for Burda's instructions, my advice would be to look outside of Burda's sparse offerings. I like Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket.
  • Since I was making a jacket, I used all of the tailoring techniques that I would use on a non-leather jacket, like using fusible interfacings, hair canvas and adding a back stay. Since I had tested the fusibles and tested ironing the leather, I knew this would be ok. 

Case in point : I think the peplum looks this good because I tested all the elements that went into it - seaming, top stitching, pressing the pleats and I went a better way with the lining instructions.
Anyway, here's a few thoughts on some of the little changes I made along the way - good decisions when it came to the details and an inside view for those of you who like to peek inside others' sewing. Plus, you know how I love talking hardware.

Chain for hanging

I added a chain hanging loop.  This was one of the last things I did before sewing the facings in. It's made of about 3-4 inches of chain, two jump rings and some grosgrain ribbon. I sandwiched it between the facing and shell before sewing the seam. There had been a really nice tutorial on a blog called Sophia Sews, but sadly that blog has disappeared.


I also added lime green piping between the lining and facings. Honestly, this is such an easy addition, but it really makes the finish look professional IMHO.


I also love the Lampo zippers that I had cut to the custom length that I needed at Botani. Could I have gone with less expensive zippers and altered the length myself? Yes and yes, but when you aren't skimping on the leather or lining, do you really want to cut a corner on the one moving part of the jacket especially given that it is a strong design element as well as functional? For me the answer is no. Plus, these are the shiniest, prettiest zippers I've ever seen.

Penultimately, the Pattern Review is here. And all the posts about this epic jacket project with details about fitting, posts about leather, more about pattern changes, etc. can be found here or under the heading Leather Jacket on the side bar.

Finally, a big thank you to all of you who shared tips, opinions and encouragement along the way.  I'm so glad you stuck with me for this adventure! I really felt like I had a team of supporters in my corner.

And that's all she wrote!


Sheila said...

As I predicted... You rocked it like a Rockstar.... Awesome job.

K-Line said...

Oh, that lining is beautiful - and perfectly inserted. And I love the peplum. It's just gorgeous work. Seriously, you could have found it for a zillion bucks at Nordstrom!

Carolyn Norman said...

This is just lovely! You've put a lot of hard work in this jacket and the finished piece reflects all of it! Great job!

Carolyn said...

Absolutely awesome! Your work is impeccable, the little flash of lime green piping is so high end. Such a beautiful jacket :)

cwmallsb said...

Custom-made real fur coat. can meet you need..

T. Sedai said...

The chain looks really cool (hmmm... might have to add that detail to something of my own in the future) and I LOVE the piping detail as well. The fabric/leather choices are sublime and overall this is a really outstanding piece. You should be really proud of your efforts!

Karin said...

Thanks for taking the time to go through the details. It's the sort of post I would come back to and appreciate if I ever get up the nerve to attempt a leather jacket. And yours looks so good that it is very inspiring!

wendy said...

fabulous! i love all the details like the piping in the lining :)

mary pepin said...

Wonderful work and great tips. Thanks.

Haven said...

I just found your blog through PR. I commented over there but I just had to comment here. I am so impressed!!! That jacket it STUNNING!! I have been toying with the idea of making it and you have just pushed me over the edge. I will be my next project. I have sewn with leather about 3 times but I have never set in sleeves with leather. How difficult was it to set in the sleeves using leather and how did you hold them in place? I know pins are a no no. I am so happy to have found your blog.

Clio said...

Hi Haven! It was more painstaking than difficult to set in the sleeves. First, I fitted the sleeve carefully in the muslin phase making the armskye higher/tighter and eliminating a lot of the ease in the sleeve cap, so there was less ease to be distributed. Then for sewing, I used LOADS of binder clips to adjust the ease and hold the sleeve where I wanted it. And then I sewed very slowly and carefully.

Check out this post:

Tia Dia said...

yay! Detail posts are the best! I love all the details and time and fiddling and more time and more fiddling that you've blogged about over the course of this project. It's super amazing. :)

Clio said...

It was a lot of time and fiddling, wasn't it!?!?! LOL

Cennetta said...

The jacket looks fantastic on you! Way to go!

Siebensachen said...

Breathtaking! Overwhelming!
Thanks for the "keys to success for leather". Your blog is on my list now.
Best wishes from Germany

poppykettle said...

I'm even more in love with your jacket now I've seen some close ups :) the lining & piping are delish, and I found myself nodding when you talked about making sure your notions matched the quality of the end garment you wanted to have - sometimes splashing out is totally the right thing to do. Thanks for all the tips & references along the way - I've been wanting that Tailoring book for what seems like forever now!!

RobinD said...

congratulations on such a stunning achievement! Your jacket is just beautiful and encourages me to sew leather. It has been many years since I sewed leather and I am a little intimidated, but the information you shared will be really helpful when I take the plunge. Gorgeous!!

Elle C said...

Wow. This jacket is stunning! No one will ever ask "Did you make that?"

I agree with you about the zippers, you absolutely made the right choice, and the lining is sublime. You did a fantastic job.

AllisonC said...

Your jacket turned out fantastic, as well as the fact it looks amazing on, I really love all the little details - zips, lining, hanging loop, piping - they all make it look like an expensive designer number.

dilladop said...

Your jacket is stunningly wonderful! It's obvious you took your time and did it right. Also, I found that tutorial for the hanging chain loop on another blog: HTH!

The Slapdash Sewist said...

A truly amazing result, inside and out! You look so happy and confident in it, and deservedly so!

Bonnie Deger said...

WOW! That jacket is fantastic. Love all the little details. Great job.

Anonymous said...

SiceAcquict SiceAcquictJB
Frank Gore Jersey
Authentic Eli Manning Jersey
Brandon Marshall Jersey

K-Line said...

OMG, T, this is the VERY jacket I'm going to make (but not in leather), having scrapped V8333. It's obviously really stuck with me on a subconscious level. I didn't remember at all that this was your jacket pattern, only that I love it. Hilarious.

Clio said...

OOoh! I'd be so excited to see you sew it up!