Operation leather jacket // Stage 0: Prelude

I am both pleased and scared to admit that I am fed up with looking for my perfect leather jacket. I have tried to find it, believe me, but I never succeeded. Every now and again I would come across a gorgeous jacket online, but it cost an arm and a leg. Or jackets in real life that were made of fake leather, which I don’t like. I even found promising looking jackets in my size (or so the label said) that turned out to have sleeves that only the skinniest of supermodels would fit. Who even thinks of that? I owned a classic black biker jacket for a while, but it was so big on my that I didn’t feel good in it. So now I’m done. I’m making my own.

‘I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that’

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I’m sometimes called Pippi Longstocking by my coworkers because of my optimistic, slightly naive attitude towards new things. Not that I mind: I’d rather be Pippi than a pessimist, because Pippi is awesome. But in this case, I kind of scare myself. I have never sewn clothing for myself. The closest I’ve come is sewing birthday dresses and a sweater for my girl, but never something adult-sized. Let alone for someone with curves, like me. And something entirely self-designed and patterned: never.

Before I started knitting sweaters, I was scared too, and now I can’t knit enough of them. But that is different. You see, when you accidentally knit your sweater too small, you simply frog it and reuse the yarn. But if you cut your clothes too small, there’s no do-over with those pieces. I know that that’s why people make muslins, and I will too, but it still scares me. After the jacket is finished I’ll probably look back at myself right now and laugh at my hesitance.

So I’m just going to do it. Scared or not, here I go!

The making of a leather jacket

The first step in my process was drawing up a design. It was a fun step to see the ideas in my head come together on paper, but it was also a what-the-heck-am-I-getting-myself-into kind of step. So, I decided to allow myself to work from a rough pattern towards a more and more refined one and to make adjustments along the way. It’s funny: at work I advocate this kind of working, but in my crafting life I am scared to follow my own advice. I am going to do it though. I have to practice what I preach! So here’s how it’s going to go down:

  • Stage 0 // Prelude: The planning and drawing stage, which I now declare done. I have to let go of what I don’t yet know and allow myself to discover these things as I come across them.
  • Stage 1 // The basics: I am going to make a basic pattern based off off a soft shell jacket that fits me well. I’ll make a muslin based on this pattern and make adjustments where necessary.
  • Stage 2 // Practice: Once I’ve got this basic pattern figured out, I’m going to add the aesthetic seams that I want in there. I will make a new muslin and repeat this process untill I’m happy with the pattern.
  • Stage 3 // Dress rehearsal: Based on this final pattern, I’m going to make a wearable muslin out of soft shell fabric. I’m in need of a new soft shell, and this is just killing two birds with one stone.
  • Stage 4 // The grand finale: By now, I should be so comfortable with my pattern that I can commit to making the final version out of leather. This, by the way, is going to happen entirely by hand. I really want to feel each stitch that goes into it and I want this to be the cherry on the cake that is all the work that will have gone into it up until that point.

The exciting part, apart from ending up with exactly the jacket I want, is that I am going to learn so much from this entire process! From making patterns and muslins to fitting them and making alterations, from working with soft shell fabric to hand stitching leather, and from adding pockets to a jacket to making the seams watertight (because if I go through all this effort to make myself a jacket, I want it to last forever!).

I am both looking forward to it and dreading making that first muslin. Better get to it, though!

What project are you looking forward to but dreading at the same time? Or have you made a project that you felt that way about before you started? What was it and how did it turn out? Comment below! I’d love to know if there are more people feeling this way!

I quilted myself a yoga mat

I don’t particularly like the foamy mats that you can get at any sporting goods store. In fact, I kind of hate them. Despite their supposed anti-slip qualities I often find myself sliding off of them, and that’s not what I want in a yoga mat. So, I decided to make one for myself. And then there was my longstanding wish to sew a quilt. I’d like my yoga mat to be a little softer than just two pieces of fabric sewn together, so that was perfect. One and one equals… a new yoga mat!

My mother-in-law gave me this batik fabric with the eye pattern over a year ago. I immediately loved it and thought it would be perfect for a yoga mat. I bought additional fabrics for the front and the back, and then I procrastinated actually making the mat for more than a year. I understood the theory of making a quilt, but somehow I was afraid to try for myself. And then, I realized that I only have a few days left before I go on a weekend long yoga retreat, and that if I wanted to take it with me, I’d better start sewing.

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Sew I did – pun intended, of course. I started by determining how much fabric to add to the sides of the batik panel. The panel was about 60 centimeters wide, which I found a little narrow for a yoga mat. So I added a strip of ochre on either side to make it around 70 centimeters wide. That was the quilt top done.

I then made a sandwich that consisted of the top, the filling and the back. For the filling, I chose a thick flannel that I layered double. This way, the mat is more sturdy than it would be with traditional batting, but it still is soft. Plus, I wouldn’t want to stand on a carefully crafted quilt with cotton or woolen batting day in and day out. I don’t think it’d hold up against that. I then pinned this sandwich together in many, many places and started quilting. I decided to follow the meandering lines that weave between the eyes on the batik fabric, and to skip this for the smallest rows of eyes. I have a normal sewing machine, and it was hard enough maneuvering the whole mat under/around/through my machine without having to make tiny slaloms around those tiny eyes. I’m happy with how it turned out in the end, but this part really was a process. I now understand why people invest in walking foots for their machines! I ended up pushing and pulling the fabric through the machine, because it just could not properly feed it. So I have different stitch lengths all over the place, but you can only see that from the back, and who’s gonna see that?

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Lastly, I trimmed the quilt to the size I wanted it to be (70 x 190 centimeters) and sewed on the binding, which I had made from 6,5 centimeter wide strips. I sewed it onto the back and then top-stitched it in place on the front – and then it was done! It took me two evenings to make it, and I am very happy with the result!


TL;DR

  • Front: Batik panel and ochre woven cotton
  • Back and binding: burgundy woven cotton
  • Filling: thick flannel, doubled up

WIP Wednesday // 1 // Spring is coming

I’m so bad at updating Ravelry that I’ve given up. But I do occasionally snap a pic of my work in progress and put it on Instagram. So why not try to document what I’m making over here? Here you go, it’s WIP Wednesday!

Right now, I have two knits and a crochet blanket in the making. The latter is a story for another time, because I promised the intended recipient that the next time she’ll see it will be when it’s done. And because it’s not done yet (but getting there!), I’ll save that one for later.

As far as the knits go, I’m firstly knitting a delicious cabled sweater. I started it a week or two ago, when after spring finally seemed on its way it suddenly started freezing again. I figured that with that nonsense I needed a new sweater, if not to keep me warm then to cheer me up by knitting it.  The pattern is Dreams of Aran by Drops Design. I’m currently way farther along than in the picture below: I’ve bound of stitches for the underarms and have started working the back part flat. I have found Drops patterns to be cryptic at times, but I’m doing okay on this one so far. Even if I accidentally switched between knitting 3 to 4 rows between cables a few times. Oh, well. This sweater will be nice and comfy no matter what, and that’s all because of the yarn.

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The yarn is something else! If I told you that it’s a merino/cashmere/nylon yarn and I bought close to a kilo of it for 10 euros, would you believe me? I still can barely believe that one myself. How did I manage that? I found a soft, soft sweater in a thriftstore, brand new. It hadn’t felted anywhere one single bit, so it hadn’t been worn at all (and after knitting with it I know this for a fact, because let me tell you: this yarn felts!). I didn’t like how that sweater looked on me, but after finding out the fiber blend I bought it anyway and frogged it. Later, when I looked up the brand of the sweater, I found out that it had originally cost around 200 euro!

The second WIP is a pair of plain socks I cast on last night. It’s my first pair of socks this year. It seems that just like the mild spring weather, my desire to knit socks has been lying dormant until now. This colorful Drachenwolle sock yarn certainly looks the part for a spring pair of socks! I’m also digging the pooling that’s occurring and even though I never try to get my socks to match, these are turning out to match pretty closely!


TL;DR

Sweater:

  • Pattern: Dreams of Aran by Drops Design
  • Yarn: 75% merino/20% nylon/5% cashmere DK-weight yarn frogged from sweater bought at the thriftstore for €10.

Socks:

  • Pattern: a plain vanilla sock: 20 rounds of 2×2 rib, 80 rounds on leg and foot. Heel to be determined.
  • Yarn: Drachenwolle Ein und Alles (+ TBD contrast for heels)

What are you working on? Any spring or summery knits, or are you too sticking with things to keep you warm?