Creating a Custom Leather Jacket for Mariska Hargitay

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Creating  a Custom Leather Jacket for Mariska Hargitay  (and SVU)

You might know that from time to time I create stagewear and wardrobe pieces… this is very different from the regular custom made work I do.  Usually, there are very tight time constraints.  Fittings can be hard to accomplish – for a bunch of reasons – time frame, deadlines , scheduling demands- if they can be had at all!

This custom leather jacket for Mariska Hargitay,  is an example of the changes that can happen under tight scheduling constraints.  Both in the fit and the Style.  This was a bit of an outlier for me since I usually get all the fittings I need. (Measurements + 2-3 fittings are average for a tailored custom jacket)

And another special challenge was the soft, delicate, fine goat skin suede used in this project. This suede was also used in a very different project I  recently completed.

The whole point of custom made is that this type of re-work should not ever be needed,  this is why so much of the time is spent on fittings.  The majority of the time involved in custom made is usually in the design, fitting and pattern-making stages.  Getting every element of the design and pattern right before committing to cutting.  It saves time on the construction when no guesswork or changes are needed – do it right the first time, don’t skip steps!

That’s the way it normally works.  But in this case, between the scheduling of the costume designer, the shooting days and locations and Mariska’s own schedule,  this was simply not possible.

So,  the costume designer and I agreed to forego the 3rd muslin fitting of the custom jacket muslin on Mariska and go straight into the leather,  without the 2nd Muslin being exactly perfect.  I was able to re-draft main changes, but not fine tune. This is not something I like to do, but sometimes in costume work it’s unavoidable.

So in the end this custom leather jacket for Mariska Hargitay,  required a bit of re-shaping and a little style change.  The jacket ended up a little fuller than desired, with excess forming diagonally between the armhole and the bust (shown with the chalk marking) and since the jacket is going to be worn open this streamlining was really important.

Mariska also decided she did not like the cuffed long sleeve style so that was changed as well.  It was good to do all these changes in one fell swoop, since all of it required a lot of taking apart!  Better to do it all at once especially when altering something in such delicate skins.

With leather, my preference is to over-fit, since most skins give – and this particular suede gives more than most skins.  That said, the full amount of shaping may not have shown up to the full extent needed – even in the muslin fitting that we passed on. 

This custom leather jacket ended up requiring very little fitting ease – a muslin in the final pattern would likely have felt far too tight to Mariska.   It would have fit just about “skin-tight”  (which in leathers like this suede is the way the muslin often ends up fitting) – the cotton muslin can be deceptive to the wearer since it has very, very little give.  But ‘tight’ in muslin, becomes perfect in soft skins like this goat suede.

In the end, I re-curved the second dart of this leather jacket into a modified off-line princess seam, removing that diagonal excess, then taking in the side back waist seams and shortening the sleeves, Which nicely stream-lined the jacket to contour to Mariska’s curves.

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