I have another admission to make. I sew. It started a long long time ago… I used to watch my mother sew when I was very young, but a year or so ago the realization that I actually know how to sew hit me. It rekindled with just not wanting to pay $50 for shirts made overseas that didn’t fit, but my newfound stitching bug now has me making more diabolical plans.
I have in my possession four (4) red patent leather pig hides, which is enough to make a rather large coat, one my size. As I live in Michigan, I’ll be insulating it, and of course it will need a proper liner.
The leather is pretty lightweight, the thinsulate is really thick, and the innermost liner is paper thin and slippery. I’m also using some red velvet for some of the facings. This is definitely going to be harder than polyester-cotton work shirts. (Burda pattern 7767 rocks!)
This all adds up to a lot of planning on how to sew the liner to the coat, which seems pretty mysterious to me. Why does it hold together? Why would it fit? How many needles am I going to break doing this? The only way to find out is to do it, but there’s no material I’d bother to use to make a coat that is cheap… so do or die, this is going to have to happen and mistakes may be costly. The leather is slightly more expensive than some Cashmere wool, so one way or another.
Here’s the pattern, can you say pimp coat? Yeah, well, I could have gotten shiny metallic gold leather as well, but then I’d feel obligated to get the cane with the jewel in the top, the heavy gold-rim sunglasses, a leopard skin print top hat, and goldfish disco shoes (hint: they don’t come in size 12). Being as tall as I am and living in an internationally savvy area, I’m pretty sure I can get away with wearing this coat. Anytime around Christmas, anyway.
I spent a few days making a custom embroidery tag for it. This is the funny part. The “image to embroidery” programming in the world today leaves a lot to be desired. This is a joke, I’m not sewing children’s clothes, I’ll be wearing this coat in only the finest bowling alleys, biker bars…
I found a very nice blog post on interlining the insulation, previously I was considering copping out totally and sewing in the thinsulate by underlining it. I’m no longer afraid of using the thinsulate, but I had to make some mistakes to figure it out. I’m making a lot of mistakes. However, I’m learning from them, and this is also important. This is not going to be a fantastic work of art. It’s going to be a coat, and a weird one, but it will be functional.
* Leather is a little hard to use
* Velvet is a little hard to use
* Thinsulate is not too bad to use
* Leather coats with thinsulate and velvet linings are hard to make. Use of a walking foot is highly recommended.
* There’s no way to press open leather seams. When this is necessary, the seam must be top-stitched open.
* It is actually easy to make simple seams with patent leather, when doing right-side to right-side stitching, it sticks to itself pretty well, and you don’t have to use pins or tape. It’s harder when you have to sew with the right side down on the foot plate, it won’t move and you have to use tissue paper as a cover.
December 3rd, 2009: Thinsulate must be *fully* attached to the liner before even thinking about attaching it to the coat. I’ve had to go back and add stitching while doing the front velvet facings, and with the leather and tight corners, the collar and lapels have been degraded to “good” condition. Oh well, if I don’t want to discuss where I got it, I can say I got it on EBay from a first year Textiles major. It’s not unusable, but obviously not the work of an expert tailor.
December 8th, 2009: I’ve slowed down, but trying to get back onto it. The lapel stitching is awful. Functional, yes, but… well, that’s all I’ll say. Last night I pinned the sleeves. Sewing them into place is going to be slightly like sewing a collar onto a rabid weasel from the inside. While it’s the hardest part, it’s not likely to make things look much worse, so onward I go. The liner is starting to look easy in comparison, just a lot of cutting and trimming. I’m hoping the liner material itself won’t be too terribly awful, but it’s really thin and slippery. Once I get it cut, thinsulate attached, connected together, and the seams overlocked, hooking it into the coat seems reasonable enough… up to the cuff seams, not sure how those will work out. Velcro? It’s getting COLD here, need to get this wearable! I must find a long thin zipper, so I can make the liner removable and then washable.
December 9th, 2009: Sleeves are attached, and I did a good job. Now to cut the liner and thinsulate. We’re getting SNOW, and it’s imparting a sense of urgency… it’s COLD here.
December 13th, 2009: the lining is almost done. I’m having trouble deciding the correct way to finish the lining seams, so I might have to wear it a couple of times and see if the wind blows through them. I’m thinking that it will, but I’m too uptight sometimes, so we will see. I’ve got the main lining sewn to the leather at the collar and halfway up the front facings, I have to finish the sleeve insulation/lining and prep that for going into the armpits before I can finish hooking in the main lining. All that would be left would be hemming and putting in the label, so almost there. Arm movement isn’t terrific, but I’m not quite ready to sew in a gusset just yet. With the collar sewn down, it’s really taking shape, and the shape it’s taking I like, even with the lapels a little goofed. I’ll take lots more pictures of the insides soon, it’s in a wearable state. It needs work, but the way might be more clear if I got some wear into it. It’s squeaky. I think I’d have to oil it to drive if I didn’t have power steering.
December 25th, 2009: The bottom liner was hard to do, I cobbled it a bit and it’s not too bad. Next one will definitely be better. Slowed down, need to finish the sleeves, but playing new computer game is obsessive.
After some testing, here are statistics for gaming purposes:
+20% versus Cold
July 23rd, 2010 – I finally got finished pictures off my camera, cropped them, and here they are.