This is a “Rerun” post from the original blog – I’ll be putting these up here and there alongside the new posts but with their original date of publishing.
After today there will be just two more posts from my Santacraft series. I hope you’ve all been enjoying it, and I’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas (or whatever you’re celebrating this time of year) and a wonderful New Year, and thank you for taking the time to drop in – it’s been very enjoyable getting this blog going after many years away from blogging, and I feel very blessed having you reading along (and sometimes sharing or emailing). Much love.
I love my leather jackets, and when they’ve reached their natural lifespan I make sure no part of the carcass goes to waste.
This one has provided patching material, components for several projects and the rougher areas have been used for testing several of the techniques that have gone into my santa jacket.
The sleeves were still relatively unmarred, so I cut one off and ripped the lining out of it, and on testing found it was just wide enough on the near end to form a santa hat.
Sometimes crafting requires…less dignified moments.
I opened up the whole sleeve end to end then cut it down to a cone, not quite narrowing to a point (to leave a wider end for the pompom) but trying not to lose any width at the wide end as it was barely big enough for my head. I didn’t bother to do anything with the seams, accepting that the patchwork look would be part of the style.
Then came the painful re-sewing of the seam. Glove leather like this is the worst of both worlds – just thin enough that it’s not worth the hassle of drilling, thick enough that forcing the needle through it is hard on the fingers (even with the needle stropped on sandpaper to hone the point to maximum sharpness). I built up a healthy callous / layer of scar tissue on the inside of both forefingers, but eventually the sleeve became a strong cone. Then there was another round of abuse to attach the fur trim.
I arranged the trim to fold in half upwards and form a warm and comfortable double layer, and made it the lazy way – I knew it would be hard to judge the length of fur needed as it would stretch and deform a bit as I sewed it on, so I just cut off roughly the right length, sewed it all the way round then cut off the excess before sewing the ends together, fitted as neatly to the edge of the leather as possible.
Unfortunately I misjudged, because I foolishly cut off a little fur from the bottom to make the trim less wide, without realising that this would make the hat tighter. And it didn’t fit.
I had two choices: Unpick the whole fur trim and remake it, ie another couple of hours of painfully sewing to glove leather, or insert a dart into the fur trim to widen the edge. The former would look better and really be the sensible option, but I couldn’t face more leather sewing and the dart would be something new and interesting to attempt – and I knew from extensive experience that fur was surprisingly forgiving of seams.
I cut up the fur trim, tried the hat on again and measured how much extra width I needed to add at the brim to make it fit. With the measurement of the height of the trim (and therefore the sides of the gap needed) I had the size of the dart (although I must admit I figured out the shape with a bit of quick experimentation in Inkscape rather than digging up my rusty school geometry). Of course, being double layered fur it would have to be a diamond folded in half.
I tried the pieces together over and over to make absolutely sure I had the fur going in the right direction, then overstitched the fur together on the backing side and folded the trim up. To my great relief and slight surprise, the dart was almost invisible in the fur and the hat fit perfectly.
The final touch: A simple pompom made from a double circle of white fur, stuffed with some of the many off-cuts of fur accumulating all over my workshop, and I aged the fur to match the jacket with the same tea spray I’d used for the new lapels.