In the last two weeks I’ve been busy with two projects, both picked on the spur of the moment and causing other plans to be put aside. Both turned out to be epic fails. The first – a Renfrew hacked into a dress – I will go into on another occasion when I’ve dusted myself off the defeat and remade it. The second is this self-drafted T-shirt with leather elements, initially inspired by this gem I found via Pinterest. Of course, I had to experiment and make the design more complicated and that’s when things went wrong. Twice (that is, in two places)! But I’m glad I didn’t jettison the whole thing into the bin.
I don’t suppose you’ve ever wondered where Indiana Jones‘ brown leather jacket came from? Well I’ll tell you anyway. It was made by Wested Leather, a company and workshop near here, in Kent. I bought online one of their £5 bundles of off-cuts. I wasn’t sure what I’d get; I was told to expect a mixture of black and brown. I ended up with this: the biggest piece being a half (front?) bodice in thick brown leather and the other pieces smaller and finer.
The industry that produces leather is a notorious pollutant and – being a hippyish type – I take no pride in being mad for it. But to me, there is no good-enough substitute: the shoes and boots that with wear adopt your shape; the feel, warmth and durability of a leather jacket or jeans. The look of the grain; the softness of suede. Most of all, I love how leather smells. Is there anything more heady? When I opened the package, my living room turned to nirvana and all the time I was working on this project, the cat (who stalks me) and I operated at a heightened level of exciement.
I used my corner-pleat sleeve tutorial to draft the sleeves, then made another pattern with added style lines that would enable the insertion of some small leather pieces from the bundle.
But just as I thought I was done, I looked in the mirror and saw…. the love child of an American Football player and Darth Vader. My shoulders were HUGE and not in a sexy Alexis Colby way either. I sewed down some of the corners, thereby ruining the square geometry but just about getting away with a less conspicuous look: – the result you see here.
Sewing the neckline caused more problems. The needlecord and the leather wouldn’t fold under equally – and it didn’t help that I could press the cloth but not the leather. This is what the shirt looked like last week, when again I thought I was done. Each photo accentuated the dog’s dinner of a neckline, with a pulling to the side. I simply couldn’t take the risk of wearing it like this and having people say: “Did you make that yourself?” while wearing a disgusted expression. But I couldn’t throw away, not after all that work. Besides it still smelt good! So I unpicked the neckline, exposing holes in the leather that would never heal. I trimmed off some of the distortion (you may notice an unevenness in shoulder width) and made bias binding out of needlecord as I didn’t have enough matching leather for the purpose.
I’ll be wearing this next week to a gig, when one of my favourite bands rolls into town. No one will see the imperfections – it’ll be too dark. But boy, will those jutting shoulders smell good as I push through the crowd!