As I was designing The Boxy Jacket, I knew it would look great in suede or leather, so instructions for this are included in the pattern. But here’s a little more about the process of using suede or leather.
If you have never sewn with these materials but would like to try, visit your local leather supplier and purchase some off-cuts; these are sometimes free or at greatly reduced prices. Select pieces that are reasonably lightweight and flexible. There is an excellent guide to buying leather here.
When working with leather or suede, on a domestic sewing machine, it is important to simplify the design for a successful outcome. The jacket shown here is in suede, it is unlined and all the pieces are only one layer thick. So only one yoke piece and one collar piece are cut and no there are no front facings.
Take your pattern pieces with you when purchasing your suede or leather. This will ensure that you get the right quantity and match the skins for quality. Remember to mirror the pieces that require two.
Place the pattern pieces on the skins and draw around each piece with tailor’s chalk. Unlike fabric the pattern pieces can be placed in any direction. However if possible place the front edge of the jacket away from the edge of the suede or leather skin it can be thin and not lie so flat.
Leather and suede has a tendency to tear at the seams if there are too many stitch perforations. To avoid this increase your stitch length and always use a leather needle, its spear like point cleanly cuts the stitch hole. Try out the strength of your seam on an off cut. Use wonder clips in place of pins to hold the pieces together while stitching.
When the collar is attached the seam is on the outside of the jacket and gets hidden by the collar and jacket lapels. This makes it much more comfortable to wear on the neck.
If you have chosen a fine leather you may wish to double up on the collar and add a small piece to the lapel so that only the top side of the leather is showing when worn.
Use a proper leather glue for bonding the layers together so that they remain flexible. There is an excellent glue sold here. This glue can also be used to stick down the seam allowances for a neat finish inside the jscket.
To fasten the jacket I have used buttons and for the button holes just a simple stitched rectangle to strengthen the suede and stop stretching.
On a previous jacket I used snap fasteners as shown above. If the skins are thick you may wish to pre-cut the stitch holes as shown in this recent post on making The Classic Coat in suede.
There is a real sense of achievement in making a suede or leather jacket and as an item of clothing it gets better and better each time its worn.
If you would like further guidance, Claire Tyler will be running a one day workshop where you can make The Boxy Jacket in suede or leather. See here for details.