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Nik-ki | Posted in Fabric and Trim on


I am about to begin sewing a leather Vogue jacket.  I have never sewn with leather.  Can anyone recommend a good illustrated book?  Most of the books I found at the online bookstores are out of print.  Any suggestions?



  1. cynthia2 | | #1

    Hi Nikki.  I like Sandy Scrivano's book, Sewing with Leather and Suede.  It's very complete and full-color throughout.  It was published in 1998 by Lark Books and should still be available.  It's still available from Amazon and it looks as though a new edition was published in 2001.  I haven't seen the new edition, though, so I can't speak to whether it's better than the original.  Best, Cynthia

    1. User avater
      Nik-ki | | #5

      I am having a hard time finding her book in print. 

      1. Cherrypops | | #6


        The book is available on Amazon.

        or Contact the publisher direct. http://www.larkbooks.com


  2. User avater
    CostumerVal | | #2

    It's easy to work with, but...No ripping!  All needle marks will be visible forever and ever.  I like to cheat and not make muslins.  I pin fit the patterns and use huge seam allowances and fit the garment as I sew it.  No can do with leather.  If there is one item in the world that you need a muslin for it's leather.  Now that I've scared you...

    There's this stuff out there that I just picked up called Leather Therapy.  It's fabulous, I always ignored the special wash instructions and threw my leather in the washing machine(gentle cycle, inside out, cold water).  The resulting stiffness always worked it's way out.  No stiffness with this stuff.  Just remember that the seams in leather are perforation marks and on leather items that I've bought at thrift stores, I've had tears happen on the seams when the wet leather sticks to the plastic agitator. (I fixed it by sewing in triangular reinforcement pieces on both sides)  I would strongly recommend that all seams are taped with woven tape. (I rip strips of preshrunk cotton)  I also use heavy upholstery thread and a long stitch length.  I've also found on old leather items that the thread rots a long time before the leather tears or wears out.  I believe that this is because of the acid that is used to tan the hides.   Also, any wet metal will turn the leather black.  It's a reaction with the tannins, same thing happens to furniture made of oak.  So, make sure that your buttons don't have any metal.  Use the same thick upholstery thread and make a thread shank.  Make absolutely sure that you only have 2 holes in the leather where your button is sewn on and use a smaller "backer" button on the inside.  BTW I have successfully bleached out the black marks with hydrogen peroxide.  Make sure to keep it on the stain, or it will bleach out your color also.

    Let me see...You can find an overwhelming supply of leather care products at your local horse tack shop.  Oh yes,  leather hides are sold by the square foot, scrap is sold by the pound.  The thickness is refered to by wieght in ounces.  For a jacket, you probably want around 2-3oz.  The belly is thinner than the back and sides, so use the back in high wear areas like the elbows and cuffs.  Your vogue pattern instructions already tell you this probably.   I just looked up a leather sewing article in Threads Aug/Sept 2001 to find you the yardage calculation for hides, and lo and behold it's written by Sandy Scrivano.  I think I'm going to have to get that book also.   "Convert the pattern's yardage requirement for your size by multiplying the amount of 45-wide fabric needed by 11.25.  Add 15% to that number to allow for flaws and irregularly shaped skins."  Yes, they are all irregularly shaped.  You will definately need double stick tapes and contact cements (I have used rubber cement, it's not the best, but it sticks for awhile) for holding and basting.  NO PINS.  Remember that forever and ever thing? 

    It is definately worth trying out.  Leather lasts forever, so you can recycle it into new projects.  I just found a leather jacket at the thrift store for $15.00.   It's knee length and probably has around 40 square feet of flawless grain leather in it.  The neck and armscye are a mess, so I'm taking it apart and I just picked up a sheep hide to redo this jacket.  I'm way excited!  I will keep up with this post and you and I will have to post pics when we are done.  What pattern are you using?

    1. MaryinColorado | | #4

      This is great information.  Thanks so much!  Mary

  3. Tangent | | #3

    You can "pin" the parts together by stapling them in the seam-allowance... with a desk-stapler, not a staple-gun!  ;-)   As you sew the seam, and get close to the staple, remove it.

    Also- use nylon thread if you can, it lasts longer.  A 'leather' needle for the machine is an absolute must!  Its point is shaped differently than the normal needles.

    Experiment with scraps to find the right size thread and needle, use the longest stitch that works, and get the feel of working with this leather before tackling the garment.

    If ithe leather is 'sticky' and doesn't want to slide under the presser foot, here are two remedies- use a "roller" foot instead of the usual presser foot, and sprinkle a bit of talcum powder on top of the seam.  Talcum powder could also be put on with a little paintbrush, to get at specific small areas, such as right under the presser foot.  Handy solution if you can't get a roller foot, and the talcum powder won't do any harm to the leather or the machine. Just blow or vacuum it off when done.

    One more thing- be stingy with the glue!  You can always add a touch more, but can never remove it if you've put on too much. Maybe apply it with a toothpick.

    Will you post a pic when you're done?

    Edited 10/8/2007 6:27 pm by Tangent

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