|I was excited today to see photos of Evan Rachel Wood wearing a leather dress with what looks like black knit for the back of the dress. I love it when I'm accidentally on trend! [Photo Credit: PacificCoastNews]|
I am so glad you liked my leather top. I wore it to work this week and got a lot of "ooh, leather!" envious comments from colleagues. Many of you said you now want to try your hands at sewing your own leather garments, to which I say, Go For It! I'm certainly no expert at sewing leather, and I owe a lot to the out-of-print book Sewing with Leather & Suede, but here are a few tips that will help you construct a basic garment:
- Make a muslin first of your pattern, and don't skimp on the fitting details. Get it to the point where you'd get an A on it if you were taking a class on fit.
- If possible, take your muslin with you to the leather store so you can lay your pieces out on the skin. Skins vary in size, and you can save several dollars by buying just the right size skin for your needs. If you're shopping by phone (click here for NYC leather dealers), provide as much detail as possible about project and size needs. I am a pattern size 14 and I used one lambskin—a small skin for this top and a larger skin for the black sleeveless top—for each project.
- Use very sharp scissors or a rotary cutter to cut out your pattern. Use weights to hold your muslin in place as you cut.
- Tools you'll need: regular needles for lightweight skins like lambskin, and possibly a teflon foot. If you can find a teflon foot easily, go ahead and get it because you'll probably use it for other things beyond leather. And you need a rubber mallet to pound seams open. (I had so much fun pounding! It was like being back in kindergarten. Pounding does make my dogs bark, though.)
- Practice on scraps first. Most leather dealers have scraps you can buy for a couple of bucks.
- Only sew with leather when you are as fresh as a daisy and using all your smarts. Mistakes in leather can be fatal because needle holes show. Set your machine speed to turtle, and think, think, think every step of the way. You can take in leather seams but you can't let them out.
- Use binder clips or hair clips to hold leather pieces together as you sew seams. Pin holes will show.
- You can treat leather much as you would regular fabric. It can be pressed with an iron and you can fuse interfacing to it. You can underline it, as I did with a leather tote bag I made recently. Just test pressing and fusing first on a scrap before you touch your garment; always use a press cloth.
|Raquel Allegra leather shirt, $622 at Barney's. Image from New York.|
Hope these tips help, and happy sewing!