Thursday, 16 April 2020

once again I am foiled by a leather jacket

After saying I was having a bad week last time, things got increasingly worse and I had a truly horrendous weekend, following which I was not remotely in a place to make a blog post. It seems to have passed now, fingers crossed, and this past day or so I've actually been enjoying sewing again. But before we get to the things I actually enjoyed making, we have to get this douchebag out of the way.

Full disclosure: I have not finished this, nor do I plan to. But I thought I'd photograph what I do have and share it with you so that we can all appreciate my utter, infuriating inability to make a biker jacket that I like.

My first three attempts at this thing, in 2018, used a Burda magazine pattern that I have now given up on, and I've been looking for another pattern that fits my requirements with no success. Why has nobody made this? Surely I'm not the only person looking for a crop length biker jacket? For attempt number four I went for the closest thing I could find, Kwik Sew 3764. Honestly, it's not that close - it's not lined, I'm not a huge fan of the waistband and even the cropped version is longer than I would like. I'd originally been planning to mash it up with a McCalls cosplay pattern, but I quickly realised that what I was trying to do was way out of my current skill set. The pattern pieces are incredibly different and I couldn't work out a way to make the collar situations compatible. So I made the Kwik Sew up as was.

(I hate all these photos. I had to retake them with my sunglasses on because I just looked SO furious. Under normal circumstances I just wouldn't have photographed this at all, but these are not normal circumstances. So here is my bloated furious self, you're welcome.)

The current situation being what it is limited what I could do here. I had to leave out both the sleeve and pocket zips because I just don't have any (as the jacket is unlined I thought I could always go back and put pockets in at a later date), and I made the jacket length as directed because that happened to be the shortest separating zip in my stash.

I have several issues with this jacket. One, it's huge. For some unknown reason Kwik Sew patterns all forbid you in confusingly strong language from cutting between sizes. Maybe there's a good reason for this, I don't know, but because of my size differentials it makes a lot of their patterns straight up unusable for me. For a jacket I thought I'd be OK cutting a straight XL (I'm between an L and an XL and I don't usually have a problem going one size up in outerwear), but it is enormous. This is how it looks after I took the side seams in several inches. The shoulder seams are nowhere near my shoulders. The back makes an actual giant pleat because there's so much extra fabric there. I have disproportionately large biceps and they are just swimming in this jacket despite my not adjusting for them. As drafted this jacket has zip-up sleeve gussets, it cannot be intended to be baggy. If I had put them in they would be dangling several inches away from my wrists, heavy and useless. I've only ever used one other Kwik Sew pattern and had basically forgotten about it because I barely wore the trousers I made, but when I saw myself in this jacket I remembered a) that those trousers existed and b) that I barely wore them because they were enormous, in a "would sometimes literally fall down" way. And that's with MY hips. 

Two, the style is not how I thought it would be. I don't like the collar at all (even if we ignore the unpressed puffiness), it's shapeless rather than deliberately oversized, everything is big and pointy and strange. I feel like a piece of spiky black rubber jewellery that you could get in Camden Market for £3.99.

Three, this fabric is too shiny. I'm not sure if it's too shiny in its own right or just too shiny to work with this pattern, but as a sort-of finished garment this one is Too Shiny. I think it looks cheap and unsophisticated. Shame, really, because it's got a nice satin-ish backing to it which makes it work actually quite well as an unlined garment. (Not that I could buy any more of this if I wanted to - I got it from Girl Charlee UK, which abruptly stopped trading earlier this year.)

All of which adds up to a jacket I don't want to wear and will never finish, so I'm going to disassemble it, reserve some of the larger pieces for possible future use, and contemplate actually buying a black biker jacket, ugh.

Strike four on the leather biker jacket. I have some petrol blue faux leather gifted to me by Minerva that's waiting to be cut out (and on a bit of a time limit) and I just don't know what to do with it anymore. I think I'm going to have to give up on the asymmetric zip thing for now and try to find something that's the right length and fit without being a bomber jacket. Any ideas that anyone has will be very gratefully received!

Since casting this jacket aside, I have made a couple more things: a very nice simple maxidress, and an absolutely ridiculous leopard print loungewear set. Both will be up next week, in whatever order I happen to finish writing the posts. I was so out of it last week that I literally forgot I had an overlocker and sat around stressing out about how long stretch jersey seams take to sew. Once I'd remembered I got three pieces sewn up in a day and a half. Until Monday, then!

Kwik Sew 3764

Fabric: Faux leather from Girl Charlee UK (no longer trading)
Cost: £20
Pattern details: Unlined moto jacket in two lengths, with asymmetric zip, zipped pockets and sleeve gussets, waistband on the shorter length
Size: XL
Alterations: None
Would make again/would recommend: No/No


  1. I'm so sorry for your frustration! I agree that this jacket is not right for you. But I think it might fit someone else (and that someone might like the shiny leather look). Would you feel better giving it away as a usable garment? I at least often find it extra frustrating to look at remnants of unsuccessful pieces that often can't even be used to make a new garment.
    I've used this opportunity to go look though my pattern stash (thanks for that excuse! I'm not feeling up to the frustrations of sewing right now, but dreaming is nice). From that, Burda 1/2017-113 still seems like your best fit. I couldn't find the post where you turned away from it, just the first jacket. If you're still feeling up for Burda, jacket 3/2019-107 has several nice details (asymmetric closure) and could easily be cropped at the marked waist. Or have you seen the Make my lemonade Mona jacket that is for free online? Somewhat simpler, but still recognisably a biker jacket. Wish you all the best!

    1. I think I'm going to cut it up and use it for accent pieces! The Make My Lemonade jacket was one I looked at and liked, but it's out of stock and they don't seem to be selling individual PDFs?

  2. it's so frustrating to put so much time into something challenging and not have it turn out... been there and it just drains all my creative desire.
    I do really appreciate your writing about it though, it's so nice to hear that I'm not the only one it happens to.
    I could see just needing to take a break from all moto jackets, but would the Kalimeris moto free pattern from Mood fabrics work? It's lined and looks like it has princess? seams for fitting, so maybe it'd be worth a muslin? would be curious to hear your review of their drafting.

    1. I do keep looking at the Mood patterns, but their samples are so... suspect that I've never persuaded myself to take the plunge with one! Maybe I'll try a simpler one to begin with and get a feel for the quality of the actual patterns first!

  3. I feel for you after spending time and money on making something that doesn’t work out. It is sometimes what puts me off sewing a new pattern for myself or cutting into a favourite piece of fabric. Have you looked at Style arc jackets, they have a couple that would work for leather e.g. Their instructions are brief but their patterns seem to be true to size ( at least the ones I have made)

    1. Ooh, possibly! Thanks, I hadn't seen that one. I'll see if I can work out what size I'd need to buy!

  4. I have both the MotorCity Express by Islander Sewing and StyleArc Ziggi Biker Jacket patterns. The Islander pattern has very detailed instructions. They are not cropped, but could be. They both have princess like seams on the back for shaping. I purchased the Islander Pattern and class on Blueprint (then Craftsy) Sew Better Sew Faster- Smart Construction, Janet Pray is the instructor. I have not made either of them yet.

    1. Now that you mention it, I bought that Craftsy class too... so I must have that pattern somewhere. I'll see if I can find it!

  5. I've made 2 Kwik Sew patterns for the upper body and have vowed not to do it again. I don't know about their block and who it's drafted for!

    Too bad it didn't work out. I had a faux leather skirt in mind and while the fit was pretty good, it was SO shiny that I just couldn't go forward with it :(

    1. Oh, I'm glad it's not just me! Crossing them off my mental list for future projects!