Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sewing a Leather Blazer

Pattern has unusual double collar piped with metal zippers

Last December I visited the garment district in New York while on a tour hosted by Peggy Sagers, owner/designer of Silhouette Patterns.  I picked up several couture fabrics and two leathers in New York.  This month I am creating a blazer with the gray/gold pearlized calfskin.  The calfskin is very soft, supple, and lightweight.  The photo does not really do justice to the incredible color of the leather, but hopefully the finished garment photo will help.
Pearlized gray calfskin
I began the project with a test muslin which fit me similar to how the red leather jacket on the pattern cover fits the model:  nice in the body, sleeve too full, armhole too low.  There is nothing wrong with the sleeve pattern; it is simply a matter of personal fit preference.  The jacket back fits well, and the back of the sleeve is fine.
Back fit is good.  Back of sleeve needs no adjustment, unlike sleeve front
The jacket front fits smoothly.  However, the armhole is low, almost near the bust center.  The armhole restricts my arm movement which makes the blazer uncomfortable to wear.  In addition, the sleeve has horizontal folds or wrinkles at the elbow.
Fit is good except for horizontal sleeve folds at elbow
In profile you can see that the sleeve needs to bend more to match the position my arm naturally hangs in.
Jacket sleeve needs to bend at a sharper angle to mimic my arm's natural position
Here are the pattern changes:
Raise armhole 1 1/2"
My armhole now measures 19" at the stitching line.
Front yoke armhole needs to be raised 1 1/2"
The outermost collar is actually part of a front yoke which needs its armhole raised to match.
Reduce cap height 1 1/2", dart out fabric at elbow to increase "bend"
The sleeve now measures 20" at the stitching line.  I will ease the 1" difference (20" sleeve - 19" armhole) when setting the sleeve.  I do not believe it is necessary to have more than 1" of sleeve ease, and I always draft out excess beyond 1".  Many patterns are drafted with 2" - 3" of ease which I find difficult to set well, and I don't find a benefit to 2" to 3" of ease.  Clotilde was a major personality in the sewing industry, and she explained to me once that during her years designing costumes in Hollywood, she drafted out all the sleeve ease and set the sleeve to the armhole with a 1:1 ratio. 

My interfacing, thread, and stitching techniques are based upon information available from two sources:

#1 Leather is for Every Body by Silhouette Patterns (  This one-hour video makes working with leather approachable and fun, and it is particularly useful for an intermediate sewer.

#2 The University of Fashion Sewing with Leather Series (  This four-part series provides extensive information about sewing a leather jacket in the garment industry.  The videos take several hours to watch, but they are invaluable.  I took several pages of notes which really helped when it came time to start the project.  Without these videos I would not have felt comfortable sewing this gray leather blazer.  The information is primarily for an advanced sewer. 

Following the advice of Silhouette Patterns, I decided to interface all garment panels with fusi-knit rather than the partial interfacings and cold tape utilized by the University of Fashion.  The reason for this decision is that my leather is soft and thin, suitable for a blazer rather than a coat. Non-interfaced panels would not have maintained the desired garment shape.  Stitch length and thread types are important, and the University of Fashion had me sewing with four different spools of thread!
Blazer is Progressing

The blazer is progressing well, and the leather sews beautifully.  I am so glad I did my research on sewing supplies and techniques for this project.

Leather seam allowances press open well, but I wanted a crisp look so I am top-stitching with heavy thread (similar to buttonhole thread).
Topstitching detail
I hope to finish the jacket in the next day or two.


  1. I look forward to seeing the finished product! I saw Peggy wearing this jacket at the ETA Sewing Expo in Rutherford, NJ this summer and it really is a very cute jacket. I agree with you about the sleeve cap ease…more than 1 inch is not necessary!

  2. Absolutely beautiful. I have not used any of Peggy's patterns. I just may have to give this one a try.

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