Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Me and Saga


 Owning a pair of leather trousers has been on my mind for a while  – part of my wish list of clothes to own. Well I now have my longed for checked hacking jacket already in the bag and thoughts turned to the leather pants.

I’m terrified! 
I know that you can’t use pins, tack/baste for fit; you need a special slippy foot for sewing; you can’t unpick a seam once it’s sewn; etc etc etc. The only benefit I can see is that there’s no pattern to match and it doesn’t fray!
I chickened out on the genuine article and went for faux leather/pleather or otherwise known in this house as plastic as pair No. 1.
Same restrictions above apply with this fabric so it was a good testing ground. I have Kenneth D. King’s Jeanius and have actually been cranking out pairs of jeans since before the summer. This is a sort of rub-off method from a pair of RTW jeans. Every time I make some there’s a little tweaking with the pattern but the crotch fits, the hips fit – nearly perfect pattern I can sew with confidence.
End of last post I asked if you had ever sewn a zip without pinning. Sheila kindly replied suggesting masking tape to hold everything in place. For the back pockets I used sticky tape (which actually didn’t stick that well) which help them in place long enough to sew onto the backs.

It’s a bit Blue Peter looking but works. (Sorry, only oldies from UK will understand this reference)

Anyhow, one completed pair of faux leather pants now hangs in the wardrobe. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but presentable.

From the front they look fine, but check out the back of the thighs!

Horrible close up of back thighs. There is a good bit of stretch in this fabric and these wrinkles mean that the upper leg is too long – too much fabric between bum and knee. There’s only one solution to this and that is recutting the backs taking out an inch or two just below the crotch. But that means remaking the whole pants and I’m not that much of a perfectionist – especially on a practice pair.

Way back in March or April I was reading about Sew Cinematic via Sew2Pro and being inspired by clothes from the movies or TV. I commented then to Marianna that I’d love to make leather trousers and she even found a shop that sold hides – we knocked around the idea of doing a sew-a-long.
My Sew Cinematic influence (abeit, five months late) is Saga. Saga Norens is the detective from The Bridge and only wears leather trousers. She also drives an old Porsche.
So, it’s me and Saga. OK, her hair is longer, she’s younger, smarter and slimmer than me; her pants are real leather but apart from that we could be twins!

I was ashamed the other day to discover thousands of balls of wool and knitting patterns that have been purchased over many years. I am not a good knitter. I only knit with really chunky yarns and extra thick needles and in the plainest K1, P1 style because I lack patience and lose track of rows and number of stitches. I have started so many jumpers, cardigans, scarves and all are left hanging limply on untold number of needles. I was determined to complete just one. You’re looking at it! No sleeves – that’s why it’s completed.

Please help – if you know of any really good resources for sewing with leather I’d appreciate you sharing them.

Better still, if you have sewn leather and blogged – send your link in the comments.

Finally, how many hides do you need for a pair of trousers?

Thanks in advance…..Ruth

21 thoughts on “Me and Saga

  1. Hi RuthHey, the stitching looks great! Seems like it helps to have some jean-making experience, which is not a chapter I've looked into yet. I'll have to look up Jeanius, which I'd not heard of before. Here's a book that caught my eye when I saw the picture on another blog. It might be helpful: I could admire that dress on the cover forever…I went on a trouser making course recently and everyone had issue with the "butt-puddles". It's also the one reason why I find it hard to find nice RTW jeans. Finally, nice pins! Definitely in the same league as Saga's (and I'm seriously missing engaging Scandi crime drama).All the best,Marianna

  2. WOW! You're my hero. First a plaid tailored jacket and now forging ahead with leather jeans. I haven't actually made anything leather yet but do have some waiting for me to get a perfectly fitted pattern and the nerve to cut into it. I understand that you can use large paper clips as well as tape to hold things together, but cellophane tape may mark the skins so be careful. There's some particular glue that you use in addition to stitching. I have a book that I bought (and haven't read yet as I'm to chicken to start this) called "How to Sew Leather, Suede, Fur. Paperbook. Amazon website: says glues are original Rubber cement, Barge or Sobo. For layout it says the grain runs along the backbone and grainline of pattern pieces should run along that line. The typical way to determine how many skins is to actually take your pattern and lay it out at the shop. Different types of skins are different sizes. Calf skins usually run 9 to 15 square feet and sheep and goats from 5 to 9 square feet. There is a formula used to determine the amount, and you add 15 to 20% for loss in cutting. It suggests 2 Cabretta skins for slacks but it doesn't say men's or women's nor does it give sizes. Good luck with this. Can't wait to see your finished garment. Also love the sweater. Looks perfect from here. :P}}

  3. You are such an adventorous sewer-so brave with brilliant results. Regarding excess fabric in upper legs of pants-cut them above the knee and seam them again. Some of the new patterns have pieced legs. When sewing with leather more smaller pattern pieces are better for fit and economical use of skin than fewer larger pieces. sheila

  4. I think your test trousers look great! It will be so much better in real leather. I have only sewed one leather top. Here is my link used clothes pins and Pritt stick for my basting. I didn't have a teflon foot, but my roller foot worked just fine. It is suprisingly easy and well behaved to sew. It's just the fact that there are no second chances that is nerve racking. Good luck!

  5. Wow! I love that you are going for leather pants! The pleather looks good, the leather will be outstanding!

  6. I think those look great! While I have never sewn on real leather, I have done a fair amount of vinyl sewing (purses and handbags). I got some plastic coated quilting clips to use in place of pins and those work well. You can also use coated paperclips to hold your seams together, but I found the clips work better. You can use pins, but only within the seam allowance (which is really tiny usually in a leather/vinyl piece). I don't blog (should I???) so I can't hook you up, but that's my two cents.

  7. I sewed my first leather garment earlier this year, and could not believe how much easier it was than I had expected. I had been scaring myself for nothing. (and later posts)I can't see that you would have any trouble with your obvious sewing skills.Hides vary in size, and so do trousers. Burda always says trace out your pattern and take the pieces to the leather supplier so that is what I did, and I had plenty of leather.

  8. Great post! Your new trousers are really rock n' roll! I have sewn small leather projects with scraps of kid and other random leather scraps. I used my regular Pfaff Hobby machine although I can't remember which foot I used, and bought a special leather needle. Sometimes I had to work the flywheel by hand – especially around curves. I made a few leather thimbles in an attempt to work my way toward sewing my own gloves. Still haven't given it a proper go yet. Can't wait to see what resources come your way!

  9. Hey Ruth, copy Saga's dressing style by adding a knee length duster/raincoat or such. It will completely cover up those back-of-the-leg wrinkles! Great project! So interesting to see how the stitching really makes the project.

  10. Marianna, I'm having withdrawal symptoms too- roll on the autumn TV schedule. This is the fourth pair of jeans I've made so the pattern is 'almost' perfect. Thank you.

  11. No Lynda, no hero, just someone who really doesn't know know her limitations and forges ahead regardless!. You won't believe this but the answer to my 'how much leather' question was sitting on my bookshelves all along. Page 359 in Vogue Sewing gives all (most) the information I need. Thanks for the glue products.

  12. Brave and reckless I think Sheila. That's a good idea about a knee dart and using smaller pieces.

  13. Wow, Karin, wow! How did I miss this one?

  14. Coco. I wore them at work today and it felt like I was wearing a wet wetsuit if you know what I mean? Some students thought they looked great others gave me rather negative feedback – maybe they prefer to see their teacher in twin sets?

  15. Thanks Chris. All advice is gratefully received. Question is – do you have time to blog? Sometimes I can't believe how much of my 'sewing time' goes on blogging. But you do get such encouragement and inspiration from like minded people. I know for sure that many of my projects would not have been finished but for the thought that I had to take a picture and post about it.

  16. I followed and envied this jacket many times. It is absolutely beautiful. Sometimes the thought os something is worse than the thing itself.

  17. When my knitting matches yours I'll be happy Adri.

  18. Bev, you're right it's all in the styling. Are you encouraging me to buy a new pattern and fabric? Really? Oh OK

  19. Ruth, I didn't know you could also knit! This jumper is fab, I love the thick collar and folded-back sleeves. What a great styling with the pleather jeans. I just look grandma-ish when I wear my self-knitted jumpers, so I only do it at home. But I may steal your idea and find ways to "toughen" my knits.

  20. I think you look especially amazing in your leather pants I own a few pairs my self and absolutely love wearing them when ever I can and hope to find the brown colour of leather pant like what you have on I always make sure I buy the best leather pants

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