Revisiting my “Homage” Swan Jacket

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A few weeks ago I realized I had to do inventory –  my studio is very compact and everything is packed away very tightly.  As a result, every time I had to locate something the entire studio would get torn apart!  Had to do something about that.

So while digging thru and counting the skins that have been stashed away,  I found some gorgeous pearlized shades that on their own were not enough to do much of anything with.

I found three small of skins of a pearly sunflower lamb.  Age mottled, so not all usable.  Some scraps of purple.  2 small pieces of a cool iridescent distressed green cowhide and another – literal – scrap of pink cowhide that I purchased just for the color – thinking I might one day make a bag for myself.

(As if I ever manage to make anything for myself!  I suffer the same syndrome as any fabric hoarder – it’s just much heavier and much more expensive….)

After having watched the first 2 episodes of “Girlboss” (NOT Recommended).   Just for the fact that they featured an Original East West Musical Instrument Co. jacket as a plot point.  I realized I had enough skins in a theme of sorts to re-create my East West Musical Instruments Homage.  My  Swan Jacket of some 22 years ago!

So here’s the revisit to my East West Musical Instruments Homage Jacket, aka my ‘Swan’ Jacket.


First of all, I reworked the fit on the jacket again to update it to my 2017 standards.  Still keeping it really fitted since working with minimal leather.  (I want to do some loser fit jackets with appliqué, but not in this case.)

The appliqué on this style almost doubles the amount of leather you’d usually have in a jacket of this cut.  It also more than doubles the work.

On top of this, more steps were added to the process because I really wanted to conserve that gorgeous pink cowhide (in the hopes of still making that elusive bag one day).  To that end,  each of the pink inlays are individually cut and the edges skived so they won’t transfer thru the lightweight purple of the wings.  A messy, nasty process with the very primitive skiving tool I use.

While there’s lots of careful hand cutting, matching gluing and stitching in any piece,  it’s particularly intense with appliqué and inlay work.  In the end, there’s roughly 75 pieces in this  jacket.  Not counting the interior construction.

I can hardly believe I was crazy enough to do this jacket in production!


Things were  a little different back then – but we did it.  Production is a plus when making on something like this –  you need quantity to be able to cut any style with multiple colors in each piece without ending up  with a ton of waste!  Purchasing a full hide of anything for one tiny accent color only makes sense if you are making multiples.  It adds up very quickly when doing custom.

This is always taken into account when people ask for estimates.  Each project gets sourced individually and leather comes in hides, not pieces.   Thus far I have never been able to accommodate any of my clients very specific custom requests with odd pieces.  Although, I would love to.  I’ve got a lot of odd pieces – but it hasn’t worked that way in over 20 years!

This is the nature of Custom Made,  hand-made, one-of-a-kind. Rare.

Carefully thought out, designed and fitted.  Something that will last a lifetime.  Intensive work and craft goes into each piece so it will last forever.   To me there is no point in working with such beautiful, long lasting and living materials unless the end product is of impeccable standards.  It’s an investment, from both sides – the client’s money and time (measurements & fittings) and on my side, over 35 years of fine tuned skills. Design, fitting, pattern making, sourcing materials, cutting & final hand crafted construction.  The complete process demands our utmost respect.  That is how I approach all of the work.

A custom made project is not comparable at all to any type of Off-the-Rack item,  it’s an experience more than just a purchase.  It’s holds a much deeper and very personal story…. this is why I love creating custom.  It’s a relationship on several levels.  As much as anything, it is my philosophy in a nutshell!

6 thoughts on “Revisiting my “Homage” Swan Jacket”

  1. It’s absolutely gorgeous, I love the colors you used. I hope you make more in the future, the jacket is also why I watched the show. Hah. (Hey, it led me to your site, so it can’t be that bad.)

    1. Thanks Jaelle! The colors were very lucky happenstance in this case. And I do hope to make more, or at least more styles using color in a similar way. Since I do custom made, I never know what someone will ask for but I sure hope this style encourages and inspires more fun with color! And for everybody.

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