Saturday, January 30, 2010

Adventures with sewing leather!

Today I had my first experiences sewing with leather!

I have an aging leather jacket that I bought at a vintage store that was closing down - for about $3, and I love it to pieces. It is a lovely golden shade of brown, and the leather is the softest I have ever touched. It is my go-to jacket for just about everything, but sadly it has started to collect rips. It was old when I got it, but it's getting to the point that I can't ignore it anymore.

And then the other day, a button fell off. Now, I could easily sew that button back on, but I have chosen to take this as a sign that it is time for that leather jacket to be put out of its misery. But, at the same time, I can't bear to let it go. I love that jacket so much, and so many parts of the leather are still good. So, I have decided to cut it up and make it into something new.

But, before I cut into my favorite jacket, I needed to find out if I could sew leather with my 30ish year old sewing machine. And so it was that I made my way down to Dressew to purchase a handful of small leather scraps for practice. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

-Dusting the plate, presser foot, and your work with baby powder makes things much easier. Seriously, it made a huge difference to how the leather slipped under the needle.

-Keep the stitch-length long. I was practically using a baste stitch. If the stitch is too short, the leather falls apart along the sewing line. Think perforated paper.

-I had to keep my speed up for the machine to have enough power to penetrate the leather. It needed the extra momentum I guess. This meant that any detailed areas or corners took a little extra effort, especially since the long stitch length meant the needle was moving extra fast. I have heard that you can lubricate the needle, either with commercial needle lubricant or, barring that, with whatever lotion you have lying around. I will try that next time.

-Buy a leather needle!!!

Other than that, my little project was fun, and done in a flash! I made a black and white leather cuff, attached with velcro and lined with fleece for comfort. It's very warm on my wrist... I'm thinking my jacket will probably become a nice new purse in the near future.

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