Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leather Jacket, Pt. 8: the Post-Game Wrap-up

In most respects, working with leather isn't really all that different from working with fabric. I wouldn't recommend it for a new pattern – make a muslin first or use a TNT pattern – but once you're familiar with the fit of your chosen pattern, using leather instead of fabric won't make a huge difference in how the garment is constructed.

What I liked about working with leather:

1. Cutting – it responds equally well to rotary cutter or scissors .

2. Marking – ink doesn’t bleed through the leather (unless maybe you're using white?) so you can mark directly on the wrong side of the skins.

3. It doesn't fray. You can cut into it or notch curves and it keeps the cuts.

4. It smells good.

5. Leather needs glue. Glue needs time. Sometimes it's nice to have a project where you are forced to take your time and think about what you're doing.

6. The feeling of accomplishment of making something that you thought you could only buy in a store.

What I don’t like about working with leather:

1. It can stretch in unexpected places. Skins, like fabric, have a grain that you should respect. Sometimes, however, it stretches because the skin may be a little thinner at a certain point, or just because it wants to!

2. You can't use pins or baste because the holes will be visible in the leather. You can, however, use pins or baste if you're doing it in the seam allowance and can accurately guesstimate fit from that point in.

3. You can't pick out stitches because the holes will be visible. And if you do pick out stitches, you can't re-stitch in the same place because if you stitch the leather too often, it will tear like perforated paper.

4. Leather needs glue. Glue needs time. Therefore, working with leather is not for when you need an instant gratification project.

Personally, I really enjoyed this project. I've worked with leather before, but only for bags and things like that. I've never attempted a garment and I feel like this project has really stretched my sewing skills. I like tackling something new and figuring out ways to do things – I've never taken sewing classes because my favorite way to learn something is like this, figuring it out as I go, making mistakes and figuring out how to make it work. What I did on this jacket may not be the"right" way, but it's my way, and it worked for me.

The main thing I learned from this, aside from patience, was not to fear tackling something new. Leather isn't that different from fabric, and in some respects it's actually easier if you treat it properly. All in all, I’ve made something I'm really happy with, and that's the best possible result.

coming soon: something completely different!


kasizzle said...

Ive been so inspired by watching your progress with your beautiful leather jacket. Makes me want to make one myself!

laura said...

Very nice! I wish I had the ability to do something like that but I don't! But, I can make purses and I have a hideous bat wing leather coat that I bought for $11.00 at a used clothing store that I'm going to put out of its misery by making some bags!! Your hints will come in handy.