A Classic Longline Leather Jacket in Rich Baby Calfskin

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This classic longline leather jacket was created for a client who was frustrated with the lack of choice available in off-the-rack RTW.

She was sick of  finding nothing but short hip length jackets, invariably with zippers or sporty details.  She wanted something classic and elegant, and had a found a photo of a young Winona Ryder in a mid-thigh length leather jacket. Most of the jacket was obscured but you could tell it had a defined lapel.  So that became the jumping off point.

Clean and distinctive. The essence of classic.

The baby calfskin chosen had a really sleek, grainless finish and a beautiful crisp hand which really brought this jacket to life.  Baby Calfskin of this caliber has become harder and harder to source and it is very,  expensive, one of the most expensive skins, short of a hand finished novelty or an Exotic skin. We now offer a beautiful lambskin called Mona Lisa that provides the same look in our Premium Lambskin range.

And even though the style is what most people would call  ‘simple’.  It’s the simplicity of  line on this jacket – that  makes the fit, the proportion and the shape of the lapel, that much more important.

The creation of this jacket entailed:

Fittings:  Three Muslins (two is our average for jackets).  And on the last muslin, 2 different lapels were cut for comparison (The wider lapel won out).   During the fitting/muslin process, the pattern undergoes adjustments and corrections each time. Once the fit and details are finalized the final pattern is drafted, and the lining and interior patterns are developed.  All reference markings are finalized and everything is checked to match.

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Pattern Pieces: (in the end) approx. 22
Pieces Cut (approx.):
Body – 27,
Lining- 11,
Interior construction pieces – approx. 23
Misc. Finishing pieces – 4
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Total of 65 Pieces cut (My initial count came to 72 while pattern was still out, so I am probably missing some here).

Cutting and prepping all the pieces of a lined garment like this for construction takes a day plus.  This varies according to the project and all the details.  (A garment in an exotic leather for example, can take several days to cut- because correctly cutting exotic skins is like piecing together a puzzle.) Many of the interior construction pieces are cut as work proceeds.

Construction is a process that we often start with the lining.  On tailored jackets like this, the body is just basically constructed and the lining goes in while the body panels are still flat. Tailored jackets are not bagged out.

This allows for very precise finishing on vents, facings and lapels. Leather has a great propensity to give and stretch while working, no matter how much interfacing etc. is used and I don’t like to use too much interior stay tape, for the opposite reason- because it prevents the slight natural give that you DO need! So working flat provides much greater control, while it makes for much trickier finishing.

One thing you cannot do with leather is use traditional tailoring techniques!

Pad/feather stitching etc., really does not work with leather. Generally hand-stitching is kept to an utmost minimum, used for buttons, interior tacking and the like. Unless a garment calls for a decorative (sometimes functional) hand-stitch like a cordovan lacing – we stay away from it.

Along the course of construction of  a piece like this Longline leather jacket, which has no topstitching, there is lots (and Lots) of very careful pressing and gluing.  Leather cannot be pressed like fabric, and some leathers cannot be pressed at all – the other thing that is missing is steam – which is used constantly in traditional tailoring.  Steam cannot come near the vast majority of leathers. It will ruin them!  So every leather is tested  first with regards to what treatment it can take.

Gluing, has to be done really carefully – since with the lining halfway in throughout most of the construction, any errant glue becomes a disaster if it gets on the silk.  Wherever possible I’ll use film-tape, but it’s not good for everything.  I also avoid any “permanent” glues when working on garments.  Then there’s also plenty of pounding and braying. (A brayer is a heavy weighted roller used to make sure seams are smooth) A tailored leather jacket goes through great deal of handling and the last thing you want, is for all the handling to show!

Overall – Final construction (after the pattern is complete and pieces cut) on a piece like this takes roughly 35-40 hours.  All told, an outwardly “simple” piece like this one can average between 35 and 95 hours. Usually over 4-6 weeks – (Fitting Scheduling is vital to final time frame).  It all depends on the project.  But that’s a good rough outline to go by.

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