Saturday, 24 May 2014

Cornish Leather - Part 2

I've been very quiet on this project for the last three months and very busy matching tartan!

I decided to start with stitching the skirt.  Once the front and front side pieces were joined (and the same for the back) the time consuming job of stitching the pleats followed.  There are 16 pleats in this skirt and the tartan pattern needed to match perfectly on each one.  This took a lot of effort and time but the effect is a professional finish and was achieved with a walking foot. 

Topstitched pleats
I began the bodice construction, again using a walking foot to help prevent the tartan from moving under the machine.  The process was simple until I came to attaching the collar which I am making in leather.  

Firstly I needed to cut my leather and to do this I made another copy of my collar and cuff pieces.  I just about managed to fit them on to my skin and secured them temporarily with clips and sticky tape.  I cut them with fabric scissors which worked wonderfully, probably because the leather is less than 1mm thick.  

I then deviated from the pattern's methods and made up the collar by stitching the collar and collar facing right sides together.  I layered and snipped the seam before turning right sides out.  I finger pressed the seam open and then finger pressed it shut from the right side of the leather.  I then basted the collar, facing side down, to the right side of the bodice.  Next I had to baste the wrong side neck facing to right side collar and then cut the neck opening.  To secure the stitching on the machine I used leather needles and a long stitch. Most importantly I went slowly as once the leather is pierced the needle holes will not close up. 

All that was left to do was grade the seams (I cut all layers to 1cm and then cut both leather layers a few millimetres shorter) and snip the curve.  I under stitched the neck opening to keep the facing in place.
Before under stitching the neck edge I tried a sample of my leather and tartan only to discover that the leather would not pass properly under the machine foot.  This problem hadn't occurred when stitching the collar together as the wrong sides are suede.  Ideally I needed a Teflon foot but I don't have one.  So I improvised as below:
Masking tape covers the neck facing to protect it from the silicone
Spraying the leather with silicone spray will help it glide under the presser foot

The silicone spray worked really well and the presser foot didn't mark the leather.  This is the finished collar:

The pins are there temporarily to encourage the leather to lie flat

I'm glad to say that leather isn't as difficult to sew with as the novice me assumed.  It's true that once you have pierced the leather the hole will remain and that can be daunting.  I tried to put that out of my mind and focused on making sure everything was tacked well and that I stitched slowly.  No disasters resulted and I am pleased with the appearance of the collar.

Now I am moving on to attaching the skirt and bodice and making up the sleeves with leather cuffs.  It's probably about time to get my matching buttons made as well!  So near yet so far...