Skin Traps

1 Embrace your inner evil

1 SleeveIn 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.

1 Wested Leather bundle of offcutsI 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.    😯

1 Back viewFor the pattern I drafted a blouse from my block.  A bust dart provides shape and ease replaces the front waist dart.  The back has contour darts (the back looks a mess!)

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.

t 1 Floppus EpicusSewing 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.

1 sideIt was an adventure!

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!

11 thoughts on “Skin Traps

  1. I love your sense of adventure and ‘nothing ventured nothing gained’ outlook. I’m afraid that, with clothing anyway, I tend not to veer far from the pattern unless it’s to do a bit of a hack (usually following somebody else’s instructions). I’m a bit more adventurous when it comes to other crafts but then I don’t have to wear them.
    Your top looks great in the first photo and you will look every bit the rock chick (just snuck a look at the band on Youtube) when you go to the concert as well as being in a heightened level of excitement caused by the music as well as the whiff of leather I’m sure.

  2. Marianna,
    Okay….so I’ve been thinking non-stop about it for the last week…and
    I can’t help myself but asking. So sorry, but

    What happened to the back?

    • What happened?! Good question; I’m hoping that a bad posture and harsh lighting have made things look worse than they actually are. If not, must fix before wearing again….

      • Hi Marianna,
        I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for it to come out sounding like that. Your designs are very inspiring, and I love seeing what you come up with. Since I haven’t created a blog, I feel bad offering any advice to you, but I still wanted to return something to you since I enjoy your blog so much.

        I know that you have put a tonne of work into developing your slopers, and I didn’t want to offer you fit advice if you already know why it didn’t look right.

        That said, I think that there are two reasons why the back looks the way it does –

        First, the fabric doesn’t have a lot of drape, so fit problems are amplified (especially in harsh lighting, like you said).
        Second, I think that you have too much width in your upper back and shoulders – the darts don’t seem to be hitting you in the right place. Long story short – your back sloper needs a bit of work.

        Have you ever come across this fitting book?

        Fitting & pattern alteration : a multi-method approach by Elizabeth G. Liechty, Della N. Pottberg, Judith A. Rasband.

        I found it at my library and I’ve used it to alter slopers for myself and my daughters to get them to fit better. This book deals with some really interesting fit issues and it’s amazing how different each person’s body type is, even in my own family!

  3. Interesting design, and it works.

    This is useful information on buying leather. I have enjoyed working with leather, but to me the thing is the feel (although the smell is just fine too), and some leather doesn’t feel very nice. My PA (who does Viking re-enactments told me they use dog chews {softened by soaking) to make shield with. Hmm. I have never bought it online. There is some baby lamb and pony skin dyed great colours (neutrals and some greens/blues) at Misan which I am very tempted by, but they are £60 a piece so I am not that tempted.

  4. The shoulders are so cool! I see the problems you were talking about, but I’m glad you salvaged it, because I think they are such a cool idea. You had me laughing so hard at the mention of your shirt’s “parents”. My only question is, how do you wash it? Or do you not? Or do you take it to the dry/leather cleaners? I have a lot of leather scraps that I’d love to incorporate, but I’m always stumped by that part of it.

    • I wouldn’t wash it if it was a much loved garment; but with this one, it’s quite possible that I’d take the risk. I haven’t worn it enough to need to yet.

      Washing does change the texture of leather. I don’t know why; I wash my leathery skin all the time and it’s just fine!!!

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