Monday, September 22, 2014

What Did I Learn about Sewing with Leather?

Sewing with leather was exciting and rewarding, and a little challenging.  Here is my finished lambskin leather blazer:
Silhouette pattern #1912
Here are a few points I learned during the project:

1.  You can make mistakes when stitching into leather and the garment will not be ruined.  Machine stitching into leather does create permanent holes.  However, pressing reduces the size of the holes significantly.  I made a few errors on the collar due to the fabric bulk.  I carefully ripped out the stitching to not tear the leather.  Then I pressed and restitched.  Perhaps thicker skins will not press as nicely, but soft, supple lambskin presses beautifully.

2.  Four layers of interfaced leather is the maximum thickness my machine can handle, and there will be some skipped stitches and seam ripping in these areas.  The areas along the zipper teeth (both the collar and center front edges) have four layers of leather plus the zipper tape.  I used a size 18 leather needle, heavy thread, and a long stitch length.  I was able to stitch these areas to my satisfaction, but it was time consuming.  If you have access to an industrial sewing machine, the jacket construction would be much quicker.  My next leather project utilizes a heavyweight black cow skin.  I plan to lap the seams and stitch through no more than two leather layers in any seam.

3.  When you reduce sleeve cap ease to one inch or less, it is easy to set the sleeve, and cotton batting makes an ideal sleeve head.   The sleeve fills out the cap so nicely and is an ideal amount of "bulk."
Detail photo of cotton batting sleeve head
My sleeve head is two inches wide and cut on the bias.

4.  Sewing with leather is very expensive, so your design should reflect unique styling and fine fit.  It is possible to purchase leather jackets at outlet stores, sales etc. so it would be a disappointment to spend time creating a jacket that you could have purchased as ready-to-wear for the same or lesser amount of money.  I don't think I could have purchased this jacket as ready-to-wear, and especially not a pearlized gray leather jacket. 


  1. It's truly beautiful! Gorgeous. Thanks for the tips too.

  2. That is amazing, Ann! You are so talented - I love it!

  3. Wow!! That's a gorgeous jacket. Love the style and colour. Which pattern did you use??

  4. This is one spectacular jacket. I really have to give this pattern a try now!!!

  5. Wow. This is one jacket I would probably hurt other people to get to were it for sale in a shop. You did welt pockets in leather?!? My hat goes off to you. Loving the zipps along the collar!!!

  6. My oh my so impressed by this! Truly professional finish....I am currently drafting a pattern for a sheepskin jacket for myself. I'd love some further info on your sleeves as they are definitely one of the hardest parts to get just right.