SMF x SCF: Jump Into Faux Leather

Jumpsuits have been a staple in the fashion world for a few years, but there’s something about a jumpsuit sewn with faux leather that adds an extra touch of edginess.  Syreeta made her new jumpsuit using Caramel Stretch Faux Leather and metal jean buttons that gave this jumpsuit all the edgy vibes!  In a Q&A session with Syreeta, she shared insights into her techniques for sewing with faux leather.  (Please note that the Caramel Stretch Faux Leather is temporarily out of stock.  A few yards are available in the Royal Blue.) 

What was the reason for laying the pattern pieces on the wrong side of the fabric?
I have the habit of cutting fabric with the face folded inside to: first protect it against anything in the environment (sliding back and forth across a table, if anything hangs to the floor, moving notions around just in case anything temporarily shifts across the top, etc.) and second so that if I have to mark anything like dart points, etc., the wrong side is facing out and thus a little easier to access.

Did you use pins or weights when you cut out your pattern?
I used pins *very sparingly* and made sure to pin inside the seam allowance because I feel most comfortable pinning, especially with mass-produced brown paper patterns with lots of pieces. However, I recommend using weights if you have them on hand and they pair better with your pattern choice.

What type of needle did you use?
I elected to use a Microtex needle to stitch the faux leather. Microtex needles feature a very thin point and smaller shaft that fairs well with fine fabrics and laminates because it leave behind less of a needle hole. It’s known as a ‘sharp’ which also makes it great for topstitching, which my pattern had tons of.

Did you use a special thread for sewing faux leather?
I chose to use regular multi-purpose thread throughout. My pattern choice featured a lot of topstitching and a heavier topstitch thread could have paired well with the faux leather + utilitarian look of a coverall, but I decided to keep the regular weight this one because I imagined a smoother look without too much texture in the stitching. So it was just a style choice. I’d love to make another in denim and can see myself using topstitch thread then!
Would glue work to hold the fabric together?
I would never use glue only. However, with denser faux leather and genuine leather, gluing seam allowance flat is very common and often suggested. In this case, use contact cement.
There was an area in my waistband that was topstitched down blindly from the outside. with many fabrics, you can hold the fold under with a press, but I used stitch witchery/bond tape to hold the fold under prior to stitching.

Did you use a special presser foot?
Yes! I used a silicone presser foot and it worked beautifully! I considered a walking foot but they’re a little harder to source for my machine (and pricier), plus I wouldn’t predict to have as many future uses for it. The silicone foot was super smooth on both seams and the tons of topstitching where a regular presser foot would not have paired well with the faux leather surface. Regular metal feet can stick and drag.

Did you adjust your machine’s tension for sewing faux leather?
I would say this has a lot more to do with fabric thickness than faux leather specifically. SMF’s faux leather was not super dense so I did not need to adjust my tension at all! Always do a test seam and adjust if necessary.

Pins or clips to hold the fabric together while sewing?
I used clips for major seams! And I almost never use clips but they truly were perfect for this fabric type. They’re tight enough to prevent slippage when the very smooth right sides of the fabric are together, the fabric isn’t so delicate that it will crimp inside the clip, and it prevents needle holes. (I pin perpendicular to the seam when stitching, so it would be harder to keep the pins inside the seam allowance.)  There were areas like patch pockets that couldn’t be accessed by clips so I had to very carefully pin within an existing stitch line or what would become a stitch line to prevent errant holes.
Did you press the faux leather?
I would suggest only ironing where absolutely necessary (e.g. pressing pockets, plackets, etc.) When you iron these areas, take great caution by using a lower setting and a good press cloth. Do not put an iron plate directly to the face of the fabric.

How did you mark the faux leather without leaving permanent marks?
My first choice is always marking on the wrong side. If you really need to use the right side of the fabric, use chalk that will rub off. This could mean marking less at a time, but it’s a safer process, even if it’s slower. If you’re confident (or a little crazy) like me, I will use a marking tool that’s technically more permanent but in the tiniest amount possible. e.g. pocket placement is a pinpoint sized dot.

Did you finish the edges of the faux leather?
I suggest being discerning about finishing based on the leather thickness and backing. Lighter weight version can be serged. Denser varieties with strong seams or lining may sustain without extra overlock. Sometimes topstitching alone can also be fine. Faux leather doesn’t fray, but I did serge my seams to be proactive about how much tension jumpsuits take (and because I really love a clean finish).

Can fusible interfacing be used when sewing faux leather?
If it has stretch you may opt to use it in areas you wish to be more stable. If it is non-stretch you may not need it unless you want it to be thicker.

How does the faux leather handle corners and curves?
The same as norm, but maybe miter, grade, and clip a little more diligently to prevent bulk.

My project edits:
It’s really important to watch the fit of jumpsuits because they have to fit well at multiple points: bust, waist, hip, bottom length, AND bodice (torso) length. If you’re not well-versed in translating pattern sizing, I would suggest making a toile first! You can skip all the topstitching and patch pocket… but connect enough of the top and bottom to understand your fit before cutting the final fabric. ESPECIALLY if you work with faux leather. Those needle holes never go away so take your time.

I added back pockets and belt loops for a more full, finished (and functional) look!

I rubbed off a back pocket pattern from a pair of jeans and used the ones I was wearing to determine the distance & placement.

Lining for pocket and yoke

I shortened the hem from the standard full length but kept it straight leg instead of tapering.


I chose jean buttons because I thought they’d be a cool, rugged hardware compared to traditional buttons yet still be more secure than snaps.

Tips for jean buttons include:
Use an awl to get your holes set up before setting the button.
I used a nylon hammer, which is especially handy for leather crafting, hardware application, and basically anything you need to bang without scratching the surface of a metal button or the face of the fabric.  I used a PVC mat to protect my table while setting the buttons.

Always always always test buttonholes on a scrap similar in density to what you’re going to add them to! Because they’re often in a placket, this could be thicker than 2-ply fabric which may require tension or other adjustments. You want to check and make sure your stitches are also tight and even. When there are many in a row, I double and sometimes triple check placement and distance because they’re a challenge to rip out (especially needle holes in leather!) and fairly impossible to edit once you’ve cut their opening. If your machine has an automatic buttonhole setting, familiarize yourself with how to use it in a way that works best for you. For me, it helps keep my button size consistent, but I still adjust my stitch length, tension, and give extra attention to spacing.

Finished Look

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Karen
    March 1, 2024 / 12:12 pm

    Great Job!

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