Newcastle Cardigan with Leather Detail
Posted on Wednesday the 23rd November 2016 by Duncan Carter
Coming back from a holiday in the sunny Canaries to a chilly London was a shock! So as my tan fades, I am making a start on my winter wardrobe. This month it’s a modern version of the grandad cardigan but there were a few hiccups along on the way…
I was desperate to make a cosy cardigan for the winter but with a fashionable twist. I spotted this funky quilted Leather Fabric on the website and was inspired. Combined with a mint green Bouclé Fabric it really pops and gives some edginess to an otherwise homely garment.
Leather and quilting and fabric, oh my!
This was my first time ever sewing with leather and it wasn’t plain sailing. The pattern calls for the shoulder yokes to be folded under themselves then sewn onto the cardigan fronts. This meant topstitching through two layers of quilted leather and one of main garment fabric. I lined it all up and stepped on the pedal but then… nothing. No matter what I tried, I just could not get the layers to move, the leather seemed to stick to my presser foot. I tried 2 different teflon feet, a roller foot, and in the end had to use the brute force method! I started each row of topstitching halfway along the stitching line, leaving enough fabric behind the machine to literally pull it through by hand.
I love the look of leather but my inexperience of working with it shows here. If you have a sewing machine with adjustable foot pressure I’m guessing you’d be just fine but mine doesn’t so I think the foot was squeezing too hard on all the layers and sticking to the leather.
After a bit of sweating (and swearing!) the yokes were out of the way. The rest of the construction was more straightforward, although I did break two sewing machine needles and an overlocker needle in the process. I’d recommend you buy some thicker Sewing Needles for this one and take it slow; at one point I was sewing through 7 layers.
The pattern was easy to follow, except at 2 points. When sewing the collar there is no mention of basting it in place, instead the pattern states to sandwich it in between the facings and main garment then stitch straight off. For all the time it takes, I do think it’s worth basting the collar first because you can’t really see it sandwiched in there as you sew.
I also found the instructions confusing for the cuff construction - there is no mention of right or wrong sides, or the notches, and no fold line on the pattern pieces. I went ahead and completed the cuffs like I would on a bomber jacket or hoodie. The pattern suggested a lengthier technique seemingly in order to hide seam allowances (although you’d never see them anyway); at the time I was confused but re-reading now it seems to make more sense.
I honestly love the finished garment (maybe it’s the extra sweat that went into it)! The fit of the pattern is very modern and I can see myself making several versions of this. The fabrics look fantastic together and the bouclé sewed beautifully - I did much of the construction directly on the overlocker again. You can also see the Stretch Interfacing I used which has done a great job of maintaining the fabric’s softness in the facings and collar.
I’d be genuinely interested to hear any tips you have for sewing leather. What went wrong? Could my teflon feet be at fault? Some of the leather has split but this is really due to my heavy handling of it and inexperience with the material. (On the plus side I think it adds a certain weathered rustic charm to the look!) Leave me a comment here, on Twitter or Instagram if you have any tips for sewing leather.
Next month, I take on the fashionista’s eternal problem: a wardrobe full of clothes yet nothing to wear! It’s a sort of 'fast-fashion' project… and there may even be a little glitter involved. Well, it is nearly Christmas after all.
Until next time, happy sewing!