Friday 17 April 2015

Project Planning: Suede Skirt

Planning Sewing Suede Leather Skirt

If there's one thing that's changed of late, it's been the time I take thinking about projects. A busier schedule than last year means that I have less time to dedicate to spontaneous making, and although I still do make time for it, it means that I've been thinking more about how to spend that time. I'm actually quite enjoying this - it means that things are a little more thought out and considered than they used to be, although that's not to say that I'm totally against a completely spontaneous project now and again! So, here's something that I've been planning and working on for the last couple of months (yep, I'm that slow of a sewer!).

I've been a bit brainwashed by all the suede I've seen all over the high street, and so when I came across a leather offcut at a rather bargainous price, I decided to get myself a piece of the suede action. I knew from the start that it would be a skirt that I would be making; I don't have the expertise yet to even consider making a jacket or coat, and I felt that as this would be my first time working with a more complex fabric, a skirt would be a nice project to start with.

The pattern: A-line skirt from Dressmaking by Alison Smith. I love the patterns from this book, and the instructions are idiot proof (even for me!). I remembered that the only reason I don't use the patterns from the book as much is that I hate printing out PDF patterns. I had 21 sheets of A4 for a simple a-line skirt, and whilst putting them together was technically simple enough I don't think at the moment I'd like to do so for a larger project. However, this project has been the first where I've discovered the undisputed advantages of PDFs, but I'll talk about this a little later.

The fabric: I have hereby declared this project to be The Tale of Two Fabrics (or technically leathers - what even is the plural of leather?). Leather 1 is a dream. It's a soft, rather battered, brown offcut, and we have become fast friends. I was worried that sewing leather would require more effort and better equipment, but Leather 1 has filled me with confidence and we have had no such trouble. Leather No. 2 is a scumbag (trust me, that's the censored version). My offcut of the brown leather was in no way large enough to make a whole skirt so I picked up another, cream offcut to make a colourblocked skirt. Whilst buying leather offcut 2, in my heart of hearts, I knew it wasn't quite right. I thought leather was all about thickness, but whilst Leather 2 is the same thickness as Leather 1, it is far less flexible and seems intent on breaking all of my leather needles. It's safe to say that I've learnt my lesson with rushing into fabric buying.

Alterations: The original pattern has 3 pieces; front, back, and waistband and is the epitome of simple sewing. Now, due to not having enough yardage of one leather, I had to carefully arrange the pattern so that the top half would be in brown leather, and the bottom half in cream. This meant that the front and back had 8 pattern pieces in total (ouch!), but I'm glad that I took the time to carefully measure out each piece, because I want the seam matching to be spot on. This is where the PDF pattern really helped me out - because I always have the option to reprint the pattern, I could cut into my paper pattern pieces without the worry of forever ruining the pattern. It's the one great advantage of PDFs, and the option to reprint made me feel so much braver when making alterations and hacks.

A further alteration I've made is to add in seam pockets across the front of the skirt. I've been seeing these type of pockets a lot lately, and have been really curious as to how they are done. After making a miniature version from scraps (anyone else do this?), I've added in paisley print pockets across the horizontal seam connecting the brown leather to the cream, and am pleasantly surprised with how they've turned out. Hot damn, my pocket obsession has reached new levels.

Where I'm at: I've sewn all my 'jigsaw pieces' together, and my front and back skirt pieces now resemble something akin to the original pieces that I should have started out with. I have yet to address the issue of the waistband (will I have enough leather?), but it's something I'll address after I've put in all the darts. I'm also considering adding in a lining, just to make this skirt a little more wearable in the summer months. I'm a little nervous, as I haven't actually lined anything before, but at the moment I'm just treating this project as a huge learning curve, because I've already learnt so much, even in these early stages.

The Inspiration:
Sources: 1  2  3  4  5
Wowsers, this has turned out to be a far wordier post that I intended it to be. The truth is, I think my attitude has changed when it comes to making things, and I'm far more interested in analysing techniques and skills than I used to be before. Whilst I'm intending this to be a fully wearable garment, I'm also eyeing it as something of a prototype, and I'm already dreaming up future versions of the suede skirt (in blue suede, what else?). I'll be posting the finished result here when it's done, but I'd love to hear any tips you have on sewing leather to help me push through with this project!


  1. gorgeous mood board! excited to see your final result! love a good bit of suede skirt. : )

    1. Thanks Pip! I'm hoping to get it finished soon! :)