Leather jackets are popular for their durability and fashion, but they can also come with a hefty price tag. A quality one I purchased years back costs a couple of hundred dollars. At the same store, I also spotted a custom-made leather jacket for over $1000. After the purchase, I said to myself, “Why spend a fortune when you could create one at the fraction of the store price?” The same goes for you. By learning how to create a leather jacket, you can design it to your taste and at a cut-down cost. Follow as I walk you through my wealth of experience on how to make a leather jacket.
What is needed to make a leather jacket?
To create a leather jacket, you need the following materials and tools:
- Leather hide
- Jacket Pattern
- Leather Sewing Thread
- Sewing Pattern Pins
- Leather-Sewing Needles
- Ruler or Tape Measure
- Razor Knife
Creating a leather jacket in 7 Steps
Creating a leather jacket from scratch isn’t a walk in the park. But with the right guidance, you’ll be on your way to creating one you’ll be happy to wear. Follow the steps below to get started:
01. Design the jacket
First, you need to decide on the style, length, and details of the jacket you want to make. Make a sketch of the design to serve as a reference or purchase ready-made or find a leather jacket pattern free online.
02. Take measurements
Measure yourself for the jacket. You can stick with any size you determine if you have no one in mind. If it is specifically for someone, be sure to measure the chest, waist, hips, sleeves, and back length. Use the measurements to create a custom pattern or modify an existing one.
03. Cut your pattern out
Cut the pattern pieces from paper. The front, back, and arms patterns of the jacket can be cut separately and assembled later.
04. Pin pattern to your leather material
Lay the leather material flat on a clean surface and pin the pattern pieces on the leather making sure not to stretch or distort the material. Then use a razor to cut out the pattern pieces from the leather.
05. Sew the front and back
Pin the front and back pieces together, matching the seams and edges. Use a heavy-duty sewing machine or special leather needles to sew the pieces together following the seam allowances indicated in the pattern. You can get these needles at craft stores or leather sewing supply stores.
06. Sew any other pieces of the jacket
Sew the jacket arms together. Then pause to wear it on yourself or a model to see if the body needs any adjustment. Sew the arms to the jacket afterward.
07. Check the jacket fit
Check whether the jacket fits you or the model after attaching the arms. Make adjustments if necessary. Then, attach your collar or buttons to finish off your jacket.
Note: It’s best to use treated or pre-tanned leather to save time. Also, depending on the style you intend to create with your jacket, the exact process may vary.
How do you put designs on a leather jacket?
Have a design in mind for your jacket but can’t find it on the market? Here are some methods to try on how to design your leather jacket creatively:
- Painting: Either fabric, acrylic, or leather paint works just fine. Just apply the paint with a brush or sponge. Allow to dry then apply a clear sealant to protect the paint.
- Embroidery: When done right, embroidery can make your leather jacket stand out. Get hold of a machine or use hand embroidery to add your design. But ensure it’s a heavy-duty needle and medium-weight leather.
- Stamping: With metal stamps and a hammer, you can add embossed designs and patterns on your leather. For larger designs, branding iron can also work.
- Patches: This is great for a leather upgrade. Sew or glue patches onto the jacket but remember to choose patches that are made for leather, or design your custom patches.
How much material do you need to make a jacket?
As a rule of thumb, an average person would need approximately 2 meters or 2.18 yards of fabric to create a basic jacket design. However, the amount of fabric needed will on the fit, style, and the fabric you’re using.
What type of leather is best for jackets?
Different factors like personal preference, purpose, and budget determine which leather type is best for one. However, some are still well sought after than others. The popular ones are:
- Goatskin: It’s the most loved and used leather in the industry. Goat leather has a water-resistant and soft texture. If you want a flexible, durable, and lightweight jacket, goatskin is your best bet.
- Cowhide: The most versatile leather for jackets. It’s in high demand owing to its natural thickness, strength, and affordability. Cowhide will make perfect everyday wear for you.
- Buffalo hide: Compared to cowhide, buffalo hide is tougher, more durable, and has a unique grain pattern. Although used mainly for making robust leather biker jackets, I’m sure it would make a great rugged outdoor jacket.
Process of Making Hand-Made Leather Jacket YouTube
Q: Which fabric is best for a leather jacket?
People use different leather fabrics for jackets depending on their personal preferences and budget. However, the most common choice is genuine leather. I wouldn’t argue because, it has a traditional feel, and is made from animal hides which make it durable, warm, and comfy. But since it can be costly and require regular maintenance people are turning to other alternatives like faux leather, suede, and sometimes Nappa leather for luxury.
Q: Is it difficult to make a jacket?
Making a jacket can be challenging, especially when you’re new to sewing. You need a good grasp of fabrics, pattern-making, and sewing which could take months or even years to learn. Plus, jackets often have several pieces, seams, and closures, like zippers or buttons, which need to be joined together in the right order. If you’re just starting out, I’ll counsel you go for a simple plain jacket that requires little effort. Over time, you can take a leather jacket-making course to perfect your skills and create a beautiful jacket that will grab attention.
Q: What is the raw material of a leather jacket?
Leather jacket is made from leather hides cut from the skin of cows, sheep, pigs, or goats. The hides are then processed and tanned to make the leather soft before cutting and sewing. If you’re learning how to create a jacket, note that not all leather is gotten from animal skin. Some are made from synthetic materials like polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which resembles leather.
Q: Can you print on leather?
Printing on leather helps you show personality. But the process can vary based on the type of leather and the printing method you use. Some common methods include screen printing and digital printing but keep in mind that not all leather goes for printing. So, always test the print on a hidden small portion of the leather to be sure it won’t rub off. Moreover, when printing with real leather, use vegetable-based ink and allow the ink to dry off completely before handling the material.
Q: Which paint is best for leather?
Oil, Acrylic, latex, and enamel are good paint choices. However, acrylic paint is the most popular and used option. This is owing to how it dries quickly, therefore, removing worries about damaging its surface. Plus, the paint is flexible and water-resistant and can be easily thinned with water and used on a variety of surfaces such as plastic, wood, and metal.
Q: How thick should a leather jacket be?
The thickness of leather could vary depending on the specific style and use of the jacket. Generally, thicker leather will be more durable and provide greater protection against harsh weather, but it may also be heavier. The thickness could go from 1.3 mm to about 1.8, with an average of 1.5 mm used in motorcycle jackets and other thick leather jackets men for heavy use. On the flip side, thinner leather which is usually light, could weigh 1.0 mm or less but offers less protection.
Keep in mind that leather thickness is just one factor to look out for when buying a jacket. Also, keep your eyes on the type of leather and the quality of the craftsmanship to ensure to make a good pick that will stand the test of time.
Q: Can a leather jacket stop a bullet?
While leather is a relatively tough material, it is not nearly dense enough to stop a bullet that can cause serious injury or death if it penetrates the skin. In other words, a leather jacket is not designed to stop bullets and will not protect you from bullets. You’ll be better off with leather armor having a metal plate backing.
Q: What makes a high-quality leather jacket?
Several factors play in rating a high-quality jacket. Here are some factors to be on the lookout for:
- The thickness of leather: High-quality jackets are usually made from full-grain or top-grain leather and have a thickness of 1.2mm to 1.6mm for a combo of strength and flexibility.
- Color and craftsmanship: You can identify a high-quality jacket by its color and craftsmanship. Leather with consistent color and no blotches or discoloration are standards. They also have even seams and consistent stitching.
- The smell of the coat: Don’t know the correlation between smell and leather quality? Quality leather has a natural smell, rather than a chemical odor. A strong chemical smell is usually an indication that the leather was treated with harsh chemicals during tanning which may harm your skin.
- Weight of the coat: Original leather is heavier than synthetic leather but light enough to provide you comfort for years to come. Also, synthetics cost a fraction of real leather and are less durable. So, always double-check to ensure you’re making a good pick.
Other qualities to look out for are water absorbency, texture pattern, finishing, and brand reputation.
Q: How long does it take to make a leather jacket?
The process of making a leather jacket from start to finish varies based on the complexity, design, expertise, and method of production. For a custom-made leather jacket, the entire process from ordering to delivering can take anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks or longer, as the jacket is made to measure and needs multiple fittings to ensure a perfect fit.
Production time can be much shorter for mass-produced leather jackets. In as little as a couple of hours to a few weeks, you can have a new jacket. Of course, this depends on the expertise and no of workers at the production factory.
Q: Are leather jackets expensive?
When it comes to buying leather jackets, you get what you’re paying for. Genuine leather jackets made from quality leather and sewn with traditional processes are more expensive with prices between $200 and $2,000 or more. Fancy labeling like Korean leather jacket brands and hardware can raise the cost even higher. Leather jackets are expensive but they are worth the price and would serve you for years to come. Certainly, this is a good investment for any wardrobe.
Making a leather jacket is no joke but can definitely be a fun when you are equipped with the skills and patience. And you can get it right from selecting the leather to finding the coolest stitching method. That is where this article comes instrumental as it makes you aware of the right tools and the 7-step guide on how to create a leather jacket. Thus, by the time you reach this part of the article, you’ll be all set to create one that’ll last for years, regardless of whether you are a seasoned seamstress or a newbie.