Monday, January 14, 2008

I finished the suede jacket and am pleased with how it turned out. It was not fast and easy sewing. What follows are the equipment and methods I use when sewing suede and leather. The jacket was made of mossy green (Pantone 16-6324) "velvet pig suede" from a local Tandy leather store. Suede has a nap, and so I laid it out and cut the pattern pieces using "with nap" rules. I made sure they were all oriented in the same direction top to bottom. No turning a pattern piece upside down to reduce waste. Pieces that were to be sewn together were placed next to each other on the skin and cut out to keep the nap consistent. Pieces were cut in a single layer and weights (cat food cans) were used to hold the pattern pieces down during cutting. I cut it out using scissors. Long blade shears I buy by the dozen at the dollar store and throw out as soon as they get dull.
The jacket is lined in acetate from my stash. Many people do not care for acetate as a lining, saying it is hot to wear and eventually weakens at the seams and needs to be replaced. I don’t find it hot; it is cellulose based fabric just like rayon. It is firmer than other lining fabrics and easy to crease, which was important to me as the jacket was lined to the edge and I wanted a lining fabric that could compete with the suede at the turned edges
I had very little problems sewing the suede. My machine, a Husqvarna Designer 1 has a setting for leather, which I used. In addition I used.

Needle - Size 12 Microtex sharp
Thread - Mettler - Polyester 30 weight (cotton will deteriorate due to the tannins used to tan skins Hmm, I wonder if this will affect the lining, as cellulose is a plant fiber too)
Interfacing – light weight iron on
"Pins" Large paper clips and binder clips were used in place of pins to hold pieces together for seaming and fitting.
Presser foot – quarter inch quilting foot. I found that a pressure foot with a small needle opening was critical for the even feed of the suede under the pressure foot. This foot worked better than my Teflon or general purpose plastic foot. The only time I had trouble with skipped stitches was when I forgot to change from my general purpose foot to the quilting foot, after sewing on the lining. The suede was not feeding evenly under the foot and the stitches were skipping.
Sewing speed – slow and steady, no jackrabbit spurts of speed.
Snaps- Dritz Mini Anorak I get very nervous when applying snaps to a garment. Once you have the hole (needed for the male parts of the snaps) in the fabric, there is no going back. Long ago, after many botched applications using hammers and little holder gizmos sold in fabric stores, I invested in a Vario Plus Snap kit by Prym, still available at , with special pliers and parts needed to apply a wide range of snap types and sizes. This was years ago when my boys were small and I was making baby clothes for them. I remember it being pricy for my budget, but it was well worth it. I still ruined 5 snaps in applying the 15 on this jacket, and it took me two nights to complete. It was either that or button holes in the suede, and that really intimidated me.


  1. Audrey,

    The color looks just right in your latest photo. It must have been the sunlight that made the other photo look so light.

    This is a wonderful jacket; two thumbs up for a terrific job.


  2. Audrey, your jacket is beautiful. I have that pattern and have not decided whether to use suede or not. Your post is encouraging.

  3. Gorgeous, simply gorgeous. Congratulations on everything, especially the snaps!

  4. I was wondering how many skins you used to make your jacket. It is stunning. I've been hanging on to this pattern waiting for the perfect fabric. I now found some lambskin to use, but don't know how much to order. I knew you had made this jacket out of suede. So I thought I would double check with you before I order. I can always order more than I think and make a bag out of the extra too!

  5. Linda, You will need to order a certain number of square feet of lambskin for the jacket. Unfortunately, I am not sure how many sq. feet of suede I used. I seem to recall many of the leather jackets in Burda World of Fashion magazine typically take 25, but I may be mistaken. When I bought the green suede I also bought some turquoise, which I still have. I bought about the same amount of each. I have 3 pig suede skins of the turquoise, two are 16 sq. ft. (roughly a 4 ft x4 ft square) one is 11. That is around 40 sq. feet total which seems like an awful lot. The pigskin had holes and thin spots that I had to work around. The sleeves were the largest pieces. Also I had to place the pattern pieces oriented in the same direction because of the suede nap. Lambskins are smaller, but if they have a smooth leather finish you will not need to worry about nap. I'm sure the jacket will be lovely in lambskin.