So you know when something just sticks in your head? That’s what happened to me with this black leather jacket last year. I tried it on during my thirtieth birthday trip to Seattle, and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. When I posted about the jacket on Instagram (and how I wasn’t going to bring it home due to the $3300 price tag), most of the responses went something like, “Well, MAKE ONE!” That sounded like a good idea in theory, but I wasn’t sure I knew how to sew a leather jacket! Would it be like sewing costumes, clothes, or wedding dresses? I feel confident in my pattern making, fitting, and basic sewing techniques, and generally have a “make it work” attitude about projects, but in order to make this work I would need time, patience, and the perfect black leather.
Fast forward to October when my friend Merrick posted about the leather dress she made in partnership with Leather Hide Store. Not only is the dress darling, but it reminded me that I should be on the hunt for some buttery soft leather for the jacket of my dreams. I was thrilled when Leather Hide Store agreed to team up with me for this leather jacket project (dubbed #onelittleleatherjacket on my Instagram feed where I posted updates during the making). I had them send me a few different swatches to get a feel for the leathers, and one black piece was just perfect. Soft and a tiny bit stretchy. Thin enough to have a little drape, but heavy enough to be warm and feel durable as well. So, they sent me half a hide, and I went to work. I want to share a whole pile of fun photos of the finished jacket that my friend Dana shot for me, then I’ll give some insight into the making process and a couple things I learned. Also, Leather Hide Store is so generous and will be giving away a beautiful ruby red hide to one of my readers, so be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom!
When I was cutting out the pattern pieces on the hide, I realized that I didn’t quite have enough to lay them all out flat without making an extra seam concession somewhere. This is where it ended up. One of the two back collar pieces had to be cut in two separate pieces, then pieced back together. It was one of those happy accident moments, because I actually love the addition of the one off center seam along the collar. Because each of the seams is sewn together, then top-stitched on both sides to tack down the seam allowance and reduce bulk, every seam really adds to the architectural detail of the jacket.
The double-welt pockets were the most nerve-wracking part of the whole sewing experience. I didn’t add any to the pattern, or on either of the two muslins that I made. So when it came time to add them to the final jacket I was slightly terrified. Luckily, with a practice pocket in leather under my belt, they both turned out just fine. The standard pocket zipper that I bought is 5″, which I actually think is just a touch too short. My hand fits in there, but just barely. I’d add an inch or two if I were to do it again.
I draped the pattern for the jacket on my dress form and it was so fun to discover the symmetry of the asymmetrical design. Although the zipper is far off center, all of the front pieces of the jacket are the same, allowing the each stage of the unzipping to have a little different look as the wide, square collar folds down little by little. This jacket is obviously primarily inspired by the one I tried on last year, which was designed by Rick Owens. As I worked on this project I enjoyed doing a little research on him, and loved some of his ideas about design–like that on a good jacket the shoulders are narrow, and the sleeves tight and long to flatter the wearer. That’s where adding ponte knit to the sleeves comes into play, rather than having them solid leather. The ponte allows the sleeves to be tight fitting without being restrictive. The result is a jacket that looks less puffy and more sleek. I also had to laugh a little bit at the Rick Owens Quote “Working out is modern couture. No outfit is going to make you look or feel as good as having a fit body. Buy less clothing and go to the gym instead.” Well said. I’ll go to the gym so I can keep fitting into my tight leather sleeves!
Read on for more photos, pieces of the process, and the red hide giveaway!