One more upcycled leather skirt

So my recent black upcycled leather skirt was a blast! I wear it all the time as part of all sorts of outfits and enjoy immensely. When people get to know that it was made out of my dad’s old coat and I made it myself, usually they look astonished, which, I have to admit, I enjoy very much 🙂 When my mom and dad saw that skirt, they were also very surprised that this kind of transformation was at all possible. And shortly my mom offered her old leather coat for a remake too. I was glad to take it and to turn into one more upcycled leather skirt. And here it is!

This time around I had even less leather to play with than the other time. And that’s fair as my mom’s coat was smaller than my dad’s coat. That’s why my task of making a pattern for this skirt was more difficult and I had to calculate even more carefully than previous time. But let’s start from the beginning. Here’s my mom in her coat like a decade ago, when wearing leather coats was still a thing. This coat was made of thin and soft genuine leather that I was glad to reuse.

Perhaps inspired by my success with the leather skirt made of his coat, my dad kindly offered to rip mom’s coat apart. He is retired and very meticulous person, so his kind offer was nothing strange really and he did an excellent job in carefully preserving all seam allowances of coat pieces that ended up being essential for me as I had to save each centimeter of the width of leather pieces.

As it is visible in the above right picture, reusable leather pieces were pretty narrow and not too long (these are the pieces of the lower part of the coat). Also, coat hem is quite pronounced too, so the bottom of each proper piece was not really reusable. When I inspected coat pieces after laying them on the floor, it was unclear if I was at all going to be able to pull a skirt of, and if so, the skirt was to be narrow and short.

The first thing to do here was to devise a pattern. There are no readily available patterns for this kind of situation. I took a narrow and short pencil skirt pattern that was meant to be used for another leftover wool skirt project and started playing with it. Initial skirt pattern has a slit at one side of the front. This allowed me to initially divide the front into three parts. But very quickly it became obvious that there was not going to be enough width for a wider center front panel. So it was divided into two, making it four front panels in total and four back panels, too. This skirt does not have a separate waist, therefore I also needed to figure out how to cut internal waist facings. Front facing has a center seam as there was not enough width of good leather for front facing to be cut as a continuous piece. Below picture shows how things looked when I was planning how to cut skirt pieces. It’s worth noting that I had to avoid button holes, pocket welts, holes left after buttons had been removed, hems, seams, so in general all imperfections of leather left after its previous life as a coat.

In these sort of upcycling projects – and I’ve done few of them by now to know quite well – a lot of time and effort goes into adapting a pattern to available fabric (in this case, leather) pieces, calculating and planning. This case was not an exception. When I eventually cut all the pattern pieces out of leather, the project essentially reached its midpoint. I had to fiddle a bit with removing old interfacing, installing new interfacing tape for the zipper stitching line, however that was not a big deal really. Shortly I was ready to stitch.

Stitching four pieces to make the front and four pieces to make the back was pretty easy. This leather was quite thin and flexible, so my sewing machine equipped with walking foot and leather needle was doing its job quite well. All seams are either top stitched or flat felled seams (excluding side seams actually). Stitching from the the right side of leather, i.e. top stitching, creates the largest challenge for me really. This time it was not too bad – most of the seams were finished fine. However when the zipper at the back got installed and I had to top stitch center back seam, I had multiple skipped stitches there. I guess, my sewing machine did not quite like stitching over the thickness that also included the zipper. I ended up changing the needle – threw away the first one and installed a new one – it helped a bit, but still, that center back top stitch seam is not ideal.

When the shell of the skirt was ready, I was finally able to try it on and was happy to conclude that the skirt was sitting on me well, just as expected. Actually, there was no major surprise there as I had made a toile before cutting anything to make sure that my quite a bit manipulated pattern pieces still came together as one nicely fitting skirt.

Waist facings were installed. I interfaced them using light weight interfacing just to add a bit of structure to the leather. Next, I made lining, which was really just joining few lining pieces together and attaching that to the installed facing. Finally, the last bit of work was to hem the skirt and the lining. Unlike my previous leather skirt, this one had to be hemmed. I had compromised in cutting its pieces in that there were skirt hem areas that still had holes from the coat days of the leather (visible in the middle of the below right picture). Therefore to conceal all those imperfections the skirt had to be hemmed. And the only way to hem it that I knew of was to use double adhesive leather tape, and that’s what I did. First I ironed the hem in. Then one side of adhesive tape was attached to the very edge of the hem and then after removing the protective film and exposing the other side of adhesive tape I secured the hem in place by gently hammering it down. And with that my second upcycled leather skirt was complete!

For this skirt I needed one genuine leather coat 🙂 and a bit of leftover lining. Pattern used here has been self-drafted and is based on a basic pencil skirt pattern. Other notions used for this project were: a bit of interfacing and interfacing tape, invisible zipper, double sided adhesive leather tape for hem, and coordinating thread. This skirt cost me nothing as it was an upcycle project. It was made in January, 2023.

It is a great skirt. I have already worn it with a number of jackets and chunky sweaters. It works fine each time. The difference from my first leather skirt is that this one is softer, hence feels really nice while wearing it. On the other hand, it is shorter and more narrow, which is a bit less comfortable, and also it is brown, which makes it a bit more difficult to style than my previous black skirt. Still, I really like it and will certainly be wearing it for many years to come!

I’ve written a number of times before, that my project planning is one big mess. And yes – it is indeed! 🙂 So if some of you remember that in the 2022 closing post I had said that I’d now make many jackets, probably that might change a bit. There are two skirts in my immediate plans now, both from leftover fabrics. So I intend to continue with zero-cost projects, at least for now. And I’m still following my New Year’s resolution to not purchase any more fabric. So things in general are good. As long as I’ll find ways to use up 40+ fabrics that I already have in my stash! 🙂 Let’s see how that will go this year!

Thanks for visiting my blog and I’ll see you next time!

~Giedre~

Published by giedrestyle

This is a sewing blog. I am weekend sewist who enjoys creating a unique and one of a kind wardrobe.

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