This is the first entry on my Brocade/Lambskin Biker-Style Jacket from the Burda December 2015 issue (design 12/2015 #108B).  For more information on this issue, please visit the Burda Style Back Issue Archive.  The project itself was very, very intricate and time consuming.  I documented it from beginning to end.  In order to thoroughly address the project, I need to break it down into a multi-part series. This first article will focus on the pattern preparation, leather preparation, laying out and cutting of the pieces.  I won’t go into much detail regarding the fabric preparation – this will focus primarily on working with leather.

The materials …

Burda indicates that “jacket fabrics of wool or blends” are to be used for the body (1 1/4 yards), and “leather or faux leather” for the trim (6 sq ft).  For my project I knew I wanted to use a brocade roll end that I had purchased from EOS, it was a
unique weave with Laurex threads and chenille-like textured relief.  The fabric itself was not a black, it was a deep gunmetal color, with a bluish tint.  This fact made the choice of contrast particularly difficult.  I could have gone with black lambskin, but I really wanted to use a piece of gunmetal colored glove weight lambskin that I’ve been holding on to for years.  This piece couldn’t have been more than 4 sq ft.  Probably less.  I didn’t think I could make it work, but I was willing to try.

Preparing the pattern and cutting the  leather …

So lets start with a disclaimer regarding the choice of size … I picked a size 38 because that was my “old weight” and I’m doing all kinds of psychological manipulations to keep me focused on losing the flab I’ve put on during a bad career phase … so size 38 seemed like a fair/realistic size that I could work with, especially since I already knew my Burda alterations.  I took the requisite 1/2″ out of the torso length in the back, tapering into the sides, no length removed from the front and 2″ out of the sleeve length for my little T-Rex arms.  I added 1/4″ seam allowances throughout the garment, except the hems.

Now when you are working with leather, you should make up all of your pattern pieces – including the mirror image pieces.  I number them marking the original as an “A” piece, and it’s mirror image as the “B” piece.  You need all of the pieces so that you can lay them out on the leather as one set, and move them around to get the most out of your hide.  No two hides are alike.  Some will have knicks, holes, bad print/tan spots and different texture based upon where from the animal the skin was.  I try to match up the skin to an appropriate place on my garment.  For example, the center hide is usually the most consistent texture.  This is good for prominent areas of your garment, such as upper collar, back and front.  The areas near the armpits of the hide are usually more supple.  The are good for the under-collar and under-sleeve.  Make sure that you have similar textures on your mirror pieces.

I found that I would be able to get ALL of the pattern pieces out of the glove leather scrap I wanted to use! Awesome! Now that I settled on the layout, I used a Sharpie to carefully trace the outer edge of the pattern pieces onto the RIGHT side of the leather.  Since my leather was glove weight, I was able to use  a rotary cutter to cut each piece out.  Once the pieces were cut, I marked the pattern piece number on the wrong side (suede side) with a  chalk pencil.  I had almost nothing left of my leather scrap!

A note on interfacing and ironing leather …

Yes! You can iron leather! The only thing you have to worry about is steam … DO NOT STEAM the leather!  You can iron with a fairly hot iron, and you can even interface leather, but add a precaution and sandwich your leather between two layers of brown paper if you do.  This will prevent scorching or imprinting on the leather.  For most other pressing, I simply use a silk organza press cloth as I work on the garment.