MUAHAHAHA! Happy Halloween my fine freaky readers :) I have a little surprise for you today - I was invited to take part in the Fear Fabric challenge, hosted by the lovely Beth of 110 Creations! The idea was to tackle a "fear fabric" - something that really made you shake in your boots - over the month of October and post the finished result on Halloween.  My original plan was to sew with silk, but then I got an idea to tackle LEATHER! I mean, it's expensive, super thick, somewhat hard to find, requires special threads and needles, and pins and stitches make permanent holes - EEEEEEAAAAA!

Now I have to be honest, this garment is completely outside my usual style - I have absolutely nothing like it in my closet - in fact, I've never even seen anything like it before! When I got the idea to make a drapey vest with this crazy sweater knit, I could see it with contrast shoulders. The raglan sleeve feature is one of my favorite things about this pattern (Butterick See and Sew 5666) . I figured it would be a great detail in leather - just enough to get my hands dirty, but not a life commitment in case things went awry.

Before I started this project I did some research online and in books on tips for sewing with leather - here are my Leather Sewing Tips: (aka, what I did my first time sewing with leather)

- Trace pattern cutting line on the wrong side of leather with tailors chalk, or heck, just a ballpoint pen

- Use nylon upholstery weight thread instead of polyester or cotton - it is much stronger

- Use a "leather" sewing needle - mine was a 90/14, marked "Leather" ;)

- Instead of pinning pieces together, use hair clips or bobby pins

- I don't have a special presser foot, like teflon, so I used baby powder to help the leather slide under the foot - I didn't do this at first, and I was able to sew it, but I had to almost pull the leather through - I'm sure this was terrible for Archibald :( I also have heard of using wax paper or parchment paper on top of the leather (or other "sticky fabrics"), but I wanted to be able to see exactly what I was doing.

- Topstitch seam allowances down close to the seam line, then trim the excess

- To finish edge of sleeve, I turned the edge under 3/8" and did a double line of topstitching

- As this blog perfectly states, only sew leather when you're "fresh as a daisy" and make sure you sew "slow as a turtle" - this really is true, especially when the pieces get thicker! I hand cranked much of the thicker parts, like when the edge is turned over at the seam - Aughh.

Here are a couple other posts with tips on sewing leather that I found helpful:  (1)   (2)   (3)

Here are the details:

Pattern: Butterick See and Sew 5666

Size: Medium

My Shape: Tall (5'11"), pear shape, narrow shoulders, long torso

Fabric: 1 piece leather - Textile Discount Outlet, 1 yard aztec sweater knit -

Size Alterations / Design Changes: greatly reduced width (flare) of main pieces, mostly to get it to fit on the fabric - I'm glad I did, because there is still plenty of drape and ease

Construction Notes:

- For sweater knit, used narrow zigzag stitch, regular thread, and ballpoint needle
- For leather, see "sewing tips" above

The Verdict:

Well, I can definitely say I think I have overcome my "fear" of sewing leather! When I finished this project, I immediately starting planning the next - I would love to try a skirt with a cool leather waistband, like fun Thakoon piece. As for the vest, I'm not sure how I feel about it - it is definitely outside my style and I'm not sure how much I would wear it, or even how to style it! Lol :) In any case, I am proud of how the leather sleeve/shoulder turned out!

Make sure you check out the other featured "Fear Fabric" bloggers:

Andrea of  Four Square Walls who braved stretch lace
Mrs. Smith of The Joys and Trials of My Crafting who faced slippery chiffon / charmeuse
and of course, our awesome host Beth from 110 Creations, who took on brocade

So, what's the scariest fabric you've ever sewn with? How about one you are feeling emboldened to try??