Thursday, February 23, 2012

Leather Jacket: My Next Big Project!

For those of you who enjoyed following me through my Lady Grey Coat sewing last winter, my garden party dress in the spring, and my Red Project Dress in the late summer, you'll be happy to know that my next big project is about to take off. For those of you who I bored to tears with multiple muslins, tips and tutorials that I found useful during fitting and sewing, and thoughts on the gadgets that came in handy, well, I guess I'll see you in a month or so for the final reveal. hee hee

So, I've decided the time is right for the leather jacket that I first mentioned in January. Loads of other sewists have been doing great projects with leather or faux leather recently. And, ever since I received the July 2010 edition of BurdaStyle, I've had a crush on this jacket.

BurdaStyle 07/2010 -#118

Does that happen to you? You find yourself returning to a certain pattern in your mind, or flipping to the directions every so often just to peruse them? Or am I weird that way? Anyway, I've had this pattern on the brain for a while. I think the style is pretty unique and eye catching. And, well, we all know how I like that kind of thing.

There is a second variation on this jacket - #119  - that Burda sewed up in a navy blue wool.

BurdaStyle 07/2010 #119

I plan to do a bit of a mash up of the two patterns - the collar of #119 (ie: one piece lapel rather than pieced), the zipper closure and non-cuffed sleeves from #118, and I'm on the fence about the peplum.

At this point, muslin 1.0 is cut, but not yet marked or sewn. I'm using up some of the ugliest denim known to man for this muslin. Seriously, the right side is dark green camo with pink and turquoise roses strewn about for good measure. I'm using the plain brown wrong side. I bought it to use as muslin for jeans, but then I found RTW jeans that fit really well. So it's been an eyesore in my stash for about 2 years. My goal for muslin 1.0 is simply to work out any fitting issues and see if I prefer the peplum or the straight back.

Fugly, no?

Here's what I'm doing/pondering so far:
  • Which sewing machine to use - my Viking (I have a handy rolling foot for sticky fabrics) vs my granny's old workhorse (better on bulk)? I may end up sewing on the Viking and top stitching on granny's. Only testing will tell. 
  • Reading up on good tips for sewing on leather - Lindsay T, Gorgeous Ann, the Sewing Lawyer and Kbenco have all done great posts on working with leather or leather jackets specifically. If you've got any tips or suggestions for further research, please suggest!
  • Whether to use all leather, or make the jacket leather on the front, but a sturdy double knit in the back. This would keep costs down and may make fitting a bit easier and more forgiving.
  • Zippers - I'm wondering if I can forgo the sleeve zippers. I think the jacket might be a bit more sleek without them.  

Have you sewn on  leather or another tricky fabric? Feel free to share!  And stay tuned since this is likely to be just the first of several posts about this project! 


Tanit-Isis said...

This one is totally a neat design, isn't it? I love the neckline. I think Melissa of FehrTrade has done some leather-sewing posts, too, although I don't know if they were as extensive as Kbenco and the Sewing Lawyer's.

If it were me, I would want the front and back to both be leather---a leather front alone would seem odd. If I were wanting to incorporate a knit for ease/fit, I'd be inclined to modify the pattern so it had knit side-panels, under-sleeves, and maybe a narrow band of knit around the armscye---but that would be a whole different pattern by the end of it.

As for zippers, I think the sleeve zippers echo the exposed front zip---so I wouldn't worry about doing away with them, but I would plan to use a different closure if I did (a less prominent zipper, or buttons, or whatever.

Yay, I love big projects! (well, reading about them... I don't seem to be able to manage to actually *do* any these days...)

Clio said...

Ooooh, no comment on the peplum?

Yeah, I just love this design. I'm not sure why I'm leaning away from the sleeve zippers. I'll probably test one with and one without and see which I like better.

Karin said...

Hurray! I think this is a great project, I will be keen to follow along. I think I would skip the peplum if you make the back in leather. Just because leather is pricy, and if you are on the fence, why not save the money? Also, the leather version shows a pieced collar because piecing allows you to use the skins more economically. This leads me to my only leather tip that I don't think hasn't already been shared pretty widely. While there is no "grain" on leather. You should line up your pattern pieces on the hide as if the head to the tail is the straight grain. It's ok to put pieces upside down, but better not to tilt them. Also, as you move away from the centre back of the hide, the leather gets thinner and stretched out, so you wouldn't want to use it on key pattern pieces.
This is a gorgeous jacket, I am looking forward to your posts!

Clio said...

AWESOME tips, Karin! I haven't heard them said anywhere else.

Kimbersew said...

Oh I love everything about this project! bring on the minutiae!
I have a soft spot in my heart for a good peplum And they solve all kinds of swayback and hip curve issues! but in leather it may be too much- we'll see.
about the sleevey zippers- having a zipper there allows the forearms to fit much more snugly- so actually makes the jacket More sleek, so I'm all for them.

T. Sedai said...

Oooh, I am excited - can't wait to see it! Ok, a couple more comments...

(1) I vote yay for the peplum! I really love it in the first pattern. Normally I am not much of a peplum person, but I think this one is a perfect size and shape. Of course, I can understand about leaving it off for cost-effectiveness, but I sort of think if you are going to spend the money on a leather jacket then spend the money and make it the way you want it (either with or without). I think if you use a thinner leather the peplum could look really cool, but if you use a thicker leather it might be better to leave it off.

(2) Sleeve zips - no input there, I think it depends what you want. I think doing a sleeve test with and without is a good way to gauge what you like better.

(3) I feel bad saying it, but your muslin fabric is so ugly I started laughing out loud.

(4) I totally know what you mean about having certain patterns ideas floating around in the back of your head! There are tons of Burda patterns that I really want to make, and I sometimes just look through the pictures, instructions, or line drawings just because I am dreaming about it. Often they are some of the more complicated pieces (jackets and gowns) and I am either waiting to find the perfect fabric, or waiting for the right time to make them. But I don't think you are weird at all. Or maybe we are both weird. In either case, you aren't alone...

Anonymous said...

Ooooh I can't wait to see this one progress. I've a feeling that whichever options you decide on, it's going to be amazing.

Clio said...

@ Kimber - Yeah, I'm really on the fence with the peplum. I like it, but it might make it more of a "when I'm in the mood for peplum" jacket rather than the wear-it-all-the-time-with-everything jacket that I'm wanting.

@ TSedai - LMAO about #3 - It's even more spectacularly bad fabric in person!! Ha!

Diana Janssen said...

I fell in love with this pattern the moment I saw it and was determined to make it. And did. It is now my favorite jacket and I wear it any chance I get. I made mine out of a faux croc that looks like leather but is actually cotton. It's a fairly unique jacket so I'm not sure I can make another one but I have some leather skins and this is the leading choice so far - still thinking about it.
Don't forget to use a teflon or roller foot with the leather. And if you don't have either, a little cornstarch on the machine bed will help the leather feed through your machine. It wipes off. Use pins in the seam allowance to avoid holes in the body of the jacket. And the muslin is a must.

You have to include the peplum if you have enough leather. I've made this jacket and the peplum adds a little something extra special to it. It's rock n'roll in the front and feminine in the back and I like that duality. And I find the jacket so easy to wear - great fit is a big part of that.

I included the zippers on mine and I'm glad I did. I included them because I liked them. But I had to have blood taken one day and the zipper allowed me to pull the sleeve back and leave my favorite new jacket on.

Can't wait to read your sewing adventures with this pattern.

Phyllis said...

I recall that Els on Sewing Divas said that the key to a leather jacket is to make sure the the sleeve cap fits into the armsyce perfectly because real leather will not ease or stretch. A muslin is definitely key to make sure the sleeve cap can be tweaked. Also lambskin is easy to sew, the main tools are a teflon foot and leather needles.

Tia Dia said...

I've been in love with this jacket since I first saw it, too! And I do fall in love at first sight with patterns and keep returning to them. Unfortunately, I don't usually have the time to make them up before they're decades out of style!

I vote for the peplum. But I really like peplums! And the zippers in the sleeves may facilitate getting in on easily? I'd leave them in - it would be a nice detail.

puu said...

oh, clio, don't hate me, but i sort of love your fugly muslin fabric :-)

looking forward to keeping track of your progress on this one--it's going to be awesome.

Clio said...

Wow, so people really like the peplum and the sleeve zippers. Good food for thought.

@ Diana - Yes! I have a rolling foot - an xmas gift from Phineas!

@ puu - LOL - you're crazy for liking that fabric.

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SewingSveta said...

I should read about your jacket from the beginning! I think it will be useful for me!