Saturday, 27 February 2016

Liberty and Leather Jacket, New Look 6302

Ok I said I was going to turn up the colour dial now, and I have certainly cranked it up a few notches with this make.  This fabric is a very old remnant of Liberty furnishing fabric called 'Houghton'.  It was given to me from someone else stash about 5 years ago, and it was probably in their stash at least 10 years before that!  It's officially, genuine vintage fabric now I think, and the design is apparently based on an even older pattern inspired by Elizabethan crewel work.  

When I first opened it out and examined the piece I thought the colours and shapes were just gorgeous.  Soft shades of blue, grey, pink, wine, khaki and coral on a tan background.  It was only when I was ironing it I realised there were actual creatures emerging; you can just see here the bird sitting on a branch on the right hand side and a horse (with a rather fine, bushy tail) in the upper left corner.  

I reckon I had just under a meter of this, but thankfully as it is furnishing material there is lots of width.  Even so I was fairly limited in scope for what it would make, so I chose this little cropped jacket, New Look 6302.  One of the jacket options includes a version with contrasting sleeve and bottom bands, so the main jacket body and sleeves required a relatively small amount of fabric.

Here's the cutting stage and I guess this is what they call working on fabric fumes, right?!  I faffed about for ages one night with this in the kitchen.  The final layout saw me cutting right into the selvage edge and even then some of the pieces were overlapping, making seam allowances tight.  I cut a size 14, but had considered cutting a 12 just to get the pattern pieces out of the fabric a little easier.  However this fabric is excellent, tightly woven with virtually no fray so I reckoned a tiny weeny seam allowance would be ok to risk, and at least I knew a size 14 would allow for fitting adjustments.  No I didn't do a toile, which might have been sensible in this case.  I jumped straight in using just careful measurements, basically because the boxy shape means less need for a perfectly contoured fit.

There really was no opportunity for playing with pattern placement and actually I could only fit the pieces on by turning them every which way and literally squeezing them in wherever I could get away with a bit of overlapping.  No back shaping here, just one piece cut on the fold which helped a lot to keep the pattern unbroken.  Fortunately the front worked out brilliantly too, with no obvious pattern placement gaffs. The actual construction of this jacket was very straightforward from the cutting out onwards.  It is an open fronted one, so no closures to do and just a simple, collarless neckline.  The set in sleeves were well drafted and went in very easily, even with this fairly substantial and unforgiving cotton material.  There were no problems.

I had already decided to use some blue-grey leather as contrast somewhere on this garment, as the colour went so well with the grey in the fabric design.  I had a decent off-cut from this leather skirt that I lopped a chunk off last year, but not enough to do both the cuffs and the bottom band.  Also the leather had seams running across it, from the original skirt.  I decided to use it for the cuffs and place the existing seam on the off-cut in such a way that it ran parallel with the new seam I created to make the cuff band.  So it looked like this.

I figured that the two lines of stitching together in parallel on the underside of the cuff looked marginally better than having one seam line on view both sides.  So the side of the cuff you see the most looks like this.

I cut the bottom band of the jacket from a loose weave grey remnant.  This has a nice textural quality for a distinct contrast, but is a reasonably close match colour-wise to the leather.  I think the two work well together.  However I did want to bring some of the leather in somewhere on the body of the jacket too, otherwise I thought there would be a slight risk the different fabrics could just begin to look a bit 'patchworky' and not have a coherent look.  There was a very long, thin strip left that included three seams running across it.  In the end I decided to use the strip as piping to insert around the bottom, between the band and the jacket body.

I've experimented with this before on this metallic brocade jacket, to include leather detail into a small area on the pockets and cuffs.  I don't use internal piping cord here, just folded the leather strip and inserted it into the seam, with the raw edges all lined up.  If you then sew as close as you can to folded edge of the leather, leaving only couple of mm showing, you get the piping effect, without the bulk of including piping cord as well as the thickness of the leather. You do have to make sure you get as near to the folded edge as poss though, otherwise you will just get a flat fold sticking out.  Another tip I discovered this time is that you can attach the piping in two stages for complete accuracy here.  Firstly sew the folded leather piece to the band, lining up the raw edges and stitching as close to the folded edge of the leather as you can get.  Say a couple of mm.  Then sew this piece to your jacket body, again lining up the raw edges but using this existing line of stitching to guide your needle, stitching exactly on top of this line to ensure you've got it right.  

Here's the inside of the jacket, showing the bottom band folded over and hand stitched in place.  I cut the leather seam edges down and graded all the raw seam edges, then the inside band lays flat on top and covers the whole lot nice and neatly.  The wine coloured lining material you can see here then got folded under and hand stitched to both the inside facing and along the top of the band, resulting in neat insides.

The jacket pattern doesn't include a lining, just facing pieces at the front and neck edges.  I managed to get these facings cut out of the main fabric piece, but decided to line it anyway as I always do with jackets.  I think they really need it, partly so they look nice when worn open, but also because they are much more comfortable to wear.  Jackets will creep around, ruckle, wriggle up and generally misbehave if they're not lined.  Also putting them on and taking them off is a proper rigmarole if your unlined sleeve interior sticks to whatever you're wearing underneath, causing the need to perform contortionist manoeuvres to shrug it off without turning your sleeve inside out on the way.  Not cool.

Here's a picture of the insides, just before I finished off the bottom edge.  The method I use is quick and easy, involving making a lining from the existing pattern pieces of the sleeves and main body.  I add an extra couple of inches to the centre back for ease.  Also add around an inch extra at the bottom edge of all the pieces, including the sleeve at the cuff edge, so that you have plenty of hem to turn under. Then you take off, or 'subtract', the facing areas (in this case from the back neck and fronts).  For speed, I overlay the facing on top of the corresponding lining piece and draw around it.  Then add back on a seam allowance, drawing a new line say 5/8 inch from your first drawn line, and cut here.  Bingo.  Then all you need to do is sew your facing to the lining pieces, sew your lining pieces together the same as the main jacket and sew the facings in place exactly as the pattern prescribes.  You then hand stitch the lining hems.  You could make a separate paper pattern for these lining pieces so that you could use it again.  There are other ways to line a jacket without so much hand stitching too, such as bagging for example (lots of inspiration to be found on the internet from kind sewists who have published really detailed 'how to' posts).

I chose a deep, wine coloured lining to match the colour on the jacket design and hand stitched it along the inside bottom band and inside the cuffs.  Because the cuffs are leather, I attached the lining to the fabric seam just underneath.  Pure laziness here probably as I could have hand-sewn it to the leather and risked straining a finger (wimp!), but as nobody will ever see this I chose to trim the leather seams right back and bring the lining to the raw edges of the fabric just underneath.  It's fine.  And no, I'm not showing you a close up.  You can take my word for it!

So here it is, the finished Houghton Jacket!  

I think this has brought a couple of old remnants bang up to date for wearing this Spring.  It actually reminds me of some of the current high street designs and certainly those colours, combining tan, berry and blue grey shades, are echoing some of the 1970's inspired prints that are everywhere just now.  

Have you ever made something up with stash fabric over 15 years old?!  Have people even got stash that old?  

Vintage Liberty remnant and reclaimed leather in perfect harmony.


  1. Brilliant use of an unusual fabric, and great to be able to use your leather offcuts as well - you must be thrilled with this bang up to date jacket. Bet you'll wear it loads this spring.

  2. Yes using up offcuts is always good and the colours are indeed great for spring. I was looking around at things I might wear it with yesterday, mostly tan and grey/blues. Lovely!