2013 was supposed to be the year I finally bought myself a "grown-up" purse. I don't know if that means I'm finally admitting I'm an adult or if I'm just becoming self-conscious about the ratty-looking bags I've been carrying around. Either way, my under $20 pleather purses are long past their life expectancies and I can't bring myself to buy another one. The thing is though, I'm not ready to be in a long-term committed relationship with a purse and I can't bring myself to plop down hundreds of dollars for something that will be a fleeting infatuation.
Of course, the next logical step in my thought process is "I can make one!" I really should stop right there, but once my mind becomes attached to an idea I may as well follow through or I will never be free of it. I knew I was doomed when I first saw the Craftsy class "Making Leather Bags". Craftsy has become my enabler. Yes, I enrolled in the class.
It just so happens that I had another leather project in mind anyway and the information in the class, even though it's about making a tote bag, has been very helpful. I started a motorcycle-type jacket for my daughter and she thought it would look better with leather sleeves. My husband had an old leather jacket that he donated to the cause.
When I separated the leather from the lining it suddenly transformed from a plain old leather jacket to the most luxurious material I had ever held in my hand! I wanted to wrap myself in it. Can I make a leather blanket? As much as I hate taking things apart (because usually that means I'm ripping out my mistakes) I actually loved disassembling this jacket. I felt like I was freeing the leather. Finally I had some large flat pieces of leather that I could use to cut out the sleeves.
Problem #1: You would think it would be easy to cut size small women's sleeves out of a size large men's jacket, right? Wrong. I had to do some strategic piecing and add some seams that I wasn't planning on. In the end it worked out pretty well. I matched up the seams I added with the existing seams in the leather so it pretty much looks like that's the way I planned it all along.
Leather is really pretty easy to sew, at least in my limited experience. My sewing machine has a walking foot so I didn't have problems with the leather dragging under the presser foot. I ordered some leather tape to stick all the seam allowances in place after they were sewn. That was a lot more fun than pressing everything into place, but wow is that stuff sticky! I'm actually a little bit surprised that I'm not permanently adhered to the jacket. If anyone ever needs some of my DNA they should look on that roll of tape. The trickiest step with the leather was probably setting in the sleeves with no pins and no second chances. It wasn't really hard, just nerve-wracking.
And here's the finished product!
I used Simplicity 2056, and while the reviews of this pattern are generally good I have to say I wouldn't make it again. Maybe that's because I expect too much of patterns though. For a jacket that you're only going to wear for a short time I guess it's fine, but if you're going to put the time into making a jacket, shouldn't it have a lining? Also, while I like exposed zippers, I'm not a fan of having the edges of the zipper tape on the outside. It reminds me of the t-shirts with the seam allowances on the outside, or anything with raw edges showing. It just doesn't look finished to me. But since I only paid 99 cents for the pattern I guess it's fair that I had to redraft some of the pieces and make my own lining pattern. You get what you pay for, right?
I'm not sure a leather bag is next on my list of projects but it's certainly in the top ten. I'm really looking forward to learning more about buying and using leather.