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Oct 25, 2010

Men's Western Jacket - FABRIC, THREAD, ETC.

Guys, I'm starting to get excited -- always a good sign.  Yesterday I managed to find a fabric I like, along with jeans buttons and thread, and I think I'm good to go.  I also dug around my stash and came up with some cool scraps I could add for embellishment/total-pimp-out.

First things first.  Here's my fabric.

It's a blue-gray velveteen -- not too stiff, not too soft -- I picked it up at Nahir, 242 West 39th St.  Surly service but an excellent selection of corduroys, velveteens, wool, and denim.  They also carry that shiny quilted coat lining in many colors, not that I'll be using it in this project but whatever.  This was a little higher than I normally pay at $8/yd., but I only needed 1 3/4 yds (of a 60" roll).

I should launder this first, right? 

Friends, I saw beautiful dyed pigskin and lambskin in a place across the street; I thought and thought.  The blue pigskin would have run me $80 for three pieces.  The brown lambskin (soft and drape-y) about $70.  I would have had to line the jacket for starters, and one of my objectives was to sew something that wouldn't overwhelm me.  I also wasn't sure how I'd attach the collar, or if the pigskin wasn't too stiff for an extended facing, etc.   I will experiment with leather someday soon, but not this project. 

Being yesterday was Sunday, many stores were closed, but I was able to find my jeans buttons and matching topstitching thread at Daytona Trimmings, 251 West 39th St.  I'd forgotten that I already have quite an assortment of jeans topstitching thread.

I stitched some samples to see how they looked.

I decided the thick gold thread was too bright; the copper tone just right.  I'm going to do the stitch line closer to the edge in denim blue and the farther line in copper.

My Singer 15-91 is set up with the blue thread, which I'll also use for all the basic seams and first line of topstitching.  My Singer Spartan has the copper thread in it, so I'll move back and forth between machines.  Of course, both are straight-stitchers and topstitch beautifully through multiple layers of anything I can fit under the presser foot.  I generally increase my thread tension a bit, especially if I'm using thicker topstitching thread -- it's more work to pull the thicker bobbin thread through those multiple layers.

When I topstich a seam -- with the seam on my left  (as in the photo above) -- I'll use the inner edge of the narrow side of the straight stitch presser foot as my guide for the line closer to the edge; roughly 1/8".  Then I'll turn my work, and using the outside of the wider edge of my presser foot, I'll stitch the farther line.   Does that make sense?

I'll post more pics tomorrow.

I'm not sure what to do with these faux leather and suede fabric scraps I found.  When I started sewing the summer before last, Nancy2001 over at Pattern Review generously sent them -- and tons of other scraps -- for me to practice on.  Everything Nancy sent was very nice quality.

I could line a pocket flap or collar.  I could do the back (or front) yoke in the darker, textured leather.  I could do the facings in the leather.  (I have a lot of both.)  A few of you had good ideas in your comments yesterday. 

And then there's this:

I know many of you like to see me dressed like a waterfront street hustler circa 1970 -- and I'm not entirely opposed to the idea -- but you know how conflicted I am, style-wise.

It's just like Lady in the Dark.  Am I the executive -- or the enchantress?   I can't make up my mind.

OK, time to get a move on.

Anybody sewing out there?  If so, what?  Not up to nagging but I do wonder.

Have a great day, everybody!

On the odd chance you have 10 minutes to kill...


  1. I am really excited to see you working on this jacket. I love having tons of jacket options for fall/winter. It rarely gets cold enough here that I would need anything past a jacket. I would love to do one for myself. You are inspiring me.

    You do really beautiful topstitching. I have a Janome 4800QC that I sew mostly on. I have a variety of feet for it that helps me make nice straight topstitching. I am in the midst of making a pair of pants for my DS. He is too tall and thin for RTW pants. I had the grand idea to set up my "new" Rocketeer for topstitching. I find that it does not seem to feed evenly depending on how close to the seam that you are topstitching. I had the stitch length maxed out and it was making really close stitches on the first row of topstitching (right next to the seam) and the next line of stitching had a longer result stitch length without changing the setting. I was pretty disappointed. Now I am back to shuffling thread on my QC.

    Next up is a Godzilla costume for my DS.

  2. *evil grin* You could send the leather bits to me for my rocking horse reclamation project to be turned into a harness, reigns, and new ears! I've already ripped out the old gross, ratty mane and tail and replaced them...

    Finally! A nag! :D I'm making another pair of jammies this week towards my goal of 13 pairs before Christmas. If I can get it done fast enough, I need to make the pinafore for Evie's Christmas dress. It has tons of embroidery on it, so I need to get it made and the design stamped on it so that I can embroider it. Since the pinafore is more involved than the dress, I'm making it first.

  3. Peter, thank you so much for continually posting the musical excerpts. I grew up watching all of those old musicals, and it infused me with a love of all things sparkly and beautiful. I am sure that's why most of what I love to sew is a bit "over-the-top" and costumey, as opposed to every day wearable. I wanted to grow up and be as glamorous as the women in these movies.

    On another note,I have a bin labeled "unfinished projects", for things I start, but get frustrated with or lose interest in...surprisingly, you do eventually get back to finishing them! Everything in it's own time....

    My sewing this month has been relegated to costumes for my daughter and niece. They are both 19! Halloween seems to be a big deal again to them...good luck with your jacket!

  4. Anybody sewing? Well, I had my fanny nailed to a seat in front of my sewing machine Friday evening and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. Sunday to finish up two maternity pantsuits for my petite sized daughter who was leaving on Sunday for a professional conference in Canada. Who knew 'end of the month' was actually 24th of the month? Next project: maternity winter coat for same daughter...

  5. Yay! Thank you so much for details on your excellent top-stitching! I love that you went with an extremely practical color, with a luxe texture. Your choice to go with the copper top-stitching thread makes it look modern, the brighter gold is much more retro. I noticed that the copper and blue-grey colors are coincidentally echoed in the plaid wool on your tailor's ham proving you've chosen a classic combination.

    I admit that I'm one of the fan's of you rocking the 70's hustler look, but you make it look elegant. I'm a little obsessed with the whole Taxi Driver esthetic between Marc Jacob's spring line and the Cupcake Goddess's boyfriend jacket project. I'm really hoping it helps propel me from sewing inspiration into sewing productivity. I did at least blog about it, which is sewing documentation at least...

  6. Looking forward to seeing your completed Western Jacket. Aren't you glad Michael bought that American Apparel jacket for you to 'sneak' a look at the construction techniques?!
    I've been sewing: a vintage tailored blazer from Burda 9/97 (Okay! Maybe 1997 really isn't vintage!) However, last night I set the whole project aside and drafted a Bishop sleeve for a blouse I want to make. Figured I better get going on my holiday wardrobe! Haven't been invited to any holiday parties yet - but you can never be too prepared ;)

  7. Love the fabric you chose for your jacket. I have a piece of brown velveteen that I'd like to make something with but haven't been able to figure out what.... hmmm, maybe a jacket?

    Oh, yes, definitely wash it first! Mine came out feeling twice as good as before it went in, I'm really loving it now.

    As for sewing, I'm trying to finish a silk blouse I started last week, My son needs some pants that don't show his ankles and I'd really like to get started on some dresses or nightgowns for my girls for Christmas, then there's that piece of brown velveteen! Lots of ideas but I'm not sure how much will actually get done. It's fun to think that I will be that productive though. :)

  8. Had you not already matched it to a cap in your collection, I would have suggested that, in the leather, just for starters.

    I know its just the trailer, but no fur here:

  9. One more vote for the copper topstitching. So the check is a sewing ham? I looked and saw man's driving cap.

    Prewash? I wash everything washable before sewing and steam shrink anything that's not. Better to find out if it's a decent fabric before you make it up, like my PJ flannel which is now in the rag bag after one wash. If that's synthetic suede and leather, it should wash and dry on low just fine. If you're adding it to the jacket, you need it to wash and dry the same way the jacket fabric does, so I vote prewash everything.

    I'm doing Xmas: rooster pattern from h*ll waiting to be glued(!) together; rooster apron cut (SIL's current theme, don't ask); car safety kit ready to go; slippers, gowns, PJ pants and more waiting, but it's all zip through it projects. Meanwhile, I'm prewashing clothing fabrics for me and the girls so I get to have some fun after Xmas is done. Somewhere in there, I have a Professional Tote to make up, too, for DD#2's first real job. Let's just say, I'm booked.

  10. RE: leather scraps, maybe you could do the cuffs and/or waistband in the coppery-brown perhaps? And, re: the furry stuff - why not make an "out there" OTT removable/detachable collar to slip over the sewn-in collar, and then Cousin Cathy could borrow it on the weekends?

    Or, how about using the leather as a piping accent down some of the front-seams?

  11. Those photos of your thread are quite artsy. Pretty too.

  12. Peter, love the fabric and the whole color scheme that' s unfolding. I would never have thought of using 2 colors for topstitching. Thanks for sharing that tip. I definitely have sewing envy. Insulating the attic isn't anywhere near as rewarding.

  13. "waterfront street hustler circa 1970" = OMG, I almost spit my coffee all over my monitor.

  14. Ooh, this is such an exciting project. Not that Cathy projects aren't fun as well, but I think I enjoy the menswear more because no one else really does it! I vote for lining your pockets in the fur and then doing leather bands on the pockets. Oh wait, that's what I would do for a jacket for me!
    I'm struggling through costumes for School House Rock Live at the moment, while some 1940s purple pajamas sit dejectedly in the corner with my peacock dress fabric and my corduroy skirt suit that still needs buttonholes. Le sigh.

  15. I LOOOOVE the copper tone, it matches so beautifully ! When I see your samples I am so jealous of those perfectly sewn lines when my machine keeps skipping stitches for no reason (at least no reason that I'm able to fix myself). I definitely have to bring it for a tune up, do you know a good place in the city, that also does industrial and is good with vintage singer ?

  16. Oh oh oh! I really like the fabric you have chosen and the thread, too. It looks so good where you've got one line of blue and another line of gold.

  17. Beautiful choices Peter! Can't wait to see it. I can't quite see how leather facings would work though, that is inside isn't it?

  18. Maybe an idea that goes nowhere but - I had a fabulous jean styled jacket that used faux leather as a piping detail and it was loved to death. May it rest in peace.

    I am soooo loving where you're going with this.

    Don't the dogs need faux fur trimmed jackets a la Suggy Bear?

  19. I love your fabric and I really like the topstitching choices. I had a denim jacket once that had suede collars, cuffs and facings. I love the idea of detachable fur collars.

  20. Love it! Leather piping sounds fabby, darling, as do leather collar and cuffs. I vote for the removable fur collar and cuffs.
    You inspired me to find my own 15-91 and it is a creampuff. I love how it sails through any bulk I subject it to like butta. :j
    This weekend I had all the windows open, Pandora radio cranked, and made three handbags, each from a size 2 skirt (thrifted) and a man's necktie.

  21. Mmm. Can I gently point out that you overwhelmed your own self with the last corduroy jacket? So try to hold your horses a bit here, have it be a back in the saddle thing instead of more of the same overkill, OK?

    And yes of course you should prewash, you nitwit! You want to dry-clean a velveteen jacket?!?


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