Since I have a bunch of time on my hands right now, I’ve decided to tackle a pattern that’s been hanging out in my Some-Day-When-I’m-Feeling-Absurdly-Brave-I’m-Going-To-Make-This bin.
“Why do your patterns require bravery?”, you might ask. Well, because I work in leather. “And?”, you might further inquire. Allow me to explain. You cannot use pins. When one removes a pin from leather, the hole does not heal as if the pin had never existed, the way it would with fabric. This also holds true for that seam you sewed that was “a little off”. You cannot just rip it out and re-sew it, again, as if it were never there. Once you sew leather the holes are always there for everyone to see, whether this happens on the first insignificant seam, or the very last row of top stitching, smack dab in the middle of the front of the item.
If the unforgiving, never healing nature of leather were not enough to scare you off, let’s consider the cost shall we? Yes, lets. The vast majority of yard goods are sold by the yard, hence the name, and the width is either 45 inches or 60 inches depending on the bolt you select. Let’s assume you buy some really snazzy fabric and you’re constructing a full length garment. You’re going to need 4 yards of a 45″ fabric. You’ll likely spend about $50 bucks for your fabric.
Now, let’s talk leather. To make a dress from leather you don’t buy yardage. You buy a side, as in, the side of a cow. If you purchase it on sale, and have had the foresight to buy a membership in the Dear-God-I-Spend-Way-Too-Much-In-This-Shop club, you will typically spend $80 bucks per side. I know what you’re thinking: “Okay, so a thirty dollar difference and I get to wear leather. That’s not so bad.” Well, no, it wouldn’t be, if it were only thirty bucks. Alas, one side of leather is only going to craft you a knee-length skirt, with some scraps left over. A couple of years back, I made a full length mermaid skirt, of my own design. Two sides x $80 = $160. At $160 bucks just for the yardage, attempting a new project, where you’re just kind of winging it, requires significant cojones.
Now, for my current project: I’ve been dying to make this dress for a couple of years. The cojones this calls for are so large I’m surprised I can walk. There are many firsts for this garment. Let’s count them, shall we?
- I’ve never made a dress. (Six bajillion types of skirts. One or two bodice type things. One velvet blouse-ish top. Never a dress. That fact alone is almost enough to have me putting it back in the Bin of Terror.)
- I’m incorporating functional, exposed zippers on the front slit and the back closure. (I do not posses the standard horror most sewists express for zippers but this will be my first project with exposed.)
- It’s a vintage pattern. (If I royally screw up, I cannot just flit out and buy a replacement.)
- I’m fitting this to my corsetted form, as I plan on wearing it with a corset beneath. (There isn’t a commercial pattern on the planet that will accommodate my figure when corsetted.)
- There will be 50 million pattern adjustments because of said corset. (I know only the most basic adjustments on only extremely basic patterns.)
- The design calls for shoulder pads. (I know, I know. I detest them, too. If there is any way I can make this thing look decent without them, that’s what I’ll be doing.)
- I’m (probably) going to have to figure out how the divide the pattern panels into smaller pieces.(The side of leather is not going to accommodate multiple 4 foot lengths. I know, I said “probably”. I’m delusional. It’s almost guaranteed, unless I encounter some freakishly large sides.)
- This garment will likely require 3 sides of leather, even if I don’t cut full panels of dreamy, buttery leather. Yikes. (I may never have the disposable cash to make it in leather. You know those concept cars that never come out? Yeah, this may forever be a concept dress. Unless … Can I crowd fund a dress? #joking)
I will begin this item, as I do all of my leather work, with a canvas mock-up. When finished, I’ll rip it apart and use the canvas pieces as patterns for my leather. I’m trying to get better at documenting my work, and so I shall here. You, dear readers, will bear witness to my struggles. Buckle up. It’s going to be a long, long ride.