This month I’ve have been working on making my very first real leather jacket. A client came to me with very specific detail of how they would like the jacket to look. Taking the basic template, I have already I set to work creating the different panels for the jacket to and made sure that they all lined up right.
When I was happy with this I made up a toile of the jacket and fitted it to the client to make sure they were happy with the panels and how they fitted with the shape.
You want to make sure everything is spot on when it comes to leather as it can be a nightmare to correct. After all my double checks, I could finally cut out in the fabric. This was exciting and terrifying at the same time as I had never worked with real leather before so it was kind of like been lead in blindfolded, also praise to You Tube for the handy video and tips and techniques on how to handle it.
Once I had all my panels cut out I could then see how the line of the jacket was going to look. I was pretty happy with how it was looking so I could set about making it up.
The sewing parts!
If you have never sewn leather before I would highly recommend reading up about it first, there are lots of tips online on how to. You will need a Teflon foot (usually white) and leather needles for your sewing machine. These are a definite investment as they will make sewing a 100% easier and you won’t be tearing your hair out!
Before I can actually sew it altogether I had a couple of panels which needed the top stitching detail on first, so I had a back panel, 2 panels at the front and the top of the sleeves which needed the diamond pattern and the sleeves just straight lines across.
When doing these patterns, you need to make sure all measurements are spot on! i.e. the spacing in between each line and stitch length, although there is no right or wrong way to it just take your ruler and create but for this jacket I needed all the measurement to be exact.
You can see from my photos the pattern starting to take shape.
Once all these panels are in place I could then go ahead and sew it altogether, I usually start with the back panel and work towards the front. One thing I learnt whilst reading up about leather is to roll the seams flat, obviously you can’t iron them or you’ll end up with a melted jacket… I mean if that’s the look you’re going for crack on!
I had a handy little roller from a lino printing set, so I just used that and it did the job fine. You could probably pick on up off eBay. It just helps to get flat clean seam and also sets you up for when you do the topstitching.
Now I don’t have a leather machine but I have a heavy duty industrial machine called Betty and she did the job just fine when it came to topstitching, don’t be afraid you’ve got to handle the leather, don’t let it handle you!
So, I bossed all of the seams and topstitching on the jacket and was pretty straight forward as I was used to doing it on my leatherette jackets. I could then move on to creating the jetted pockets (the ones you see on all biker jacket) I’m not going lie these pockets scare me a little as they always look so complicated and I haven’t done one since I was at uni which was like 10 years ago…
Anyway, many You Tube videos and samples later – so I made sure I nailed it first go because once you stitch the leather it marks it and you can’t really correct it so you’ve got to be super spot on when doing them.
First of all, you’ve got to prepare all the pockets by stitching the facings onto the zip then the pocket bag (what you put your hands in!) onto the zip as well. Make sure you measure your zip first (the opening bit of the zip) and make sure that measurement matches the opening you make on your jacket where the pocket is going to sit.
See photo for what it should look like, accuracy is key!
Once this is all done you can stitch your zip in to the opening you made, make sure you practice your topstitching as the layers of leather can be a bit thick when it comes to this bit.
I had 3 pockets in total to do and each one I did I got better and I was really happy with the result of them.
The next mission was to take the same process as above and repeat it on the sleeve hem (see picture) so you get the opening to make the sleeves wider at the bottom. This was exactly the same just you have the open section at one end. Make sure you get the zips the right way up too! Nothing worse than stitching it in and realising it is the wrong way…
Once they were in place I could then attach my sleeves to the main body, this is where it all starts to come together and start looking like a biker jacket.
I could then attach the collar making sure to roller all those seams so it looks clean.
After this process, the actual jacket is all ready for its lining to be sewn in. We went for a black and white satin polka dot fabric which complemented the leather so well and really made it look finished off.
After all the lining is in place the final topstitching can be done around the edge of the lapels, it’s one of my favorite details on a biker jacket as you can be experimental as you like or just keep it simple.
One final check that everything is in place and looking fine diddly dine, I added my guitar Born to Thread guitar plectrum to give it a seal of approval that its finished.
I do take order for real leather jackets, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org for a quote.