Altering Leather Challenge...

Not only alter jeans... Leather Jeans!

So....Hubby has some riding gear and needed a specific pair of brown leather pants to go with them, and was waiting to find his size, to no avail.  This model he found in one size up, but passed on them still holding out hope for his size... only to realize that these discontinued leather jeans are becoming even harder to find... so... when he saw a pair 2 sizes up, he grabbed them up with the thought that he could have them professionally altered by a woman who had done another pair of leather jeans for him before. She did a real nice job.  However, she is far away and the alteration on this pair might run a pretty penny.  I looked them over, and can envision a plan of altering them so that they would still look professionally made.  There are a few things my gals at the forum taught me to keep in mind with leather.  Needles make permanent holes, and holes weaken the leather, so no back stitching, and no pinning the leather together...use quilters clips, and I will need to get a Teflon foot, so the leather moves along and doesn't get hung up on my regular foot.  There are leather needles, I already have a pack of those, and they say use poly thread instead of cotton because something in the leather (i forget at the moment) interacts and can affect the cotton.

So I am up for the challenge. Not sure when I will actually get the final courage to start taking these apart to start the alteration, I have to have the right mind set.. you know.. the "I can do this" while I have my definite plan of action.  They say don't take any more loose than you have to.  So I'm not really worried about the sides/seat, but that waist band... I only plan to take that in, not make it a different size band from top to bottom, just the waist size.  So taking that off and putting that back when done, might be a weakening move, but maybe there's reinforcing I can do for that.  Depends how thick that band is, or maybe if I leave the band on, and I just cut it where I'm removing the parts of the sides and the seat seams, and then just join them back together in those three spots when done.  That would preserve the integrity of the waistband to the jeans.  Throw a zigzag stitch on each one - or is that too many holes? It doesn't have to be tight like a satin stitch! :-)

So here's a couple "before" pictures of the undertaking...

The denim jeans are an appropriate size.... This will be a nice project.
Will keep you posted...


November 10th

And So it Begins...

Well I took on the project today.  I finally had my plan and my confidence was up.  So I set out by doing some measuring and figuring.  I figured I would go down the outside of the leg by 19 inches total, and taper from 13 inches to the 19 inches, so a nice 6 inch taper should work in nicely and not pucker too much...  My plan was to take the seams loose and reassemble them, at the smaller measurement (taken in by 1 inch from the previous seam line (which would net a 2 inch take in)  while cutting out the corresponding portion of the waist band and reassembling that with a zigzag stitch.  This would be taking the littlest amount loose as possible and making the adjustment.
So I began my adventure of taking the seams apart...
Once apart, I cut the waistband also.

The pockets had to be trimmed and taken in to accommodate the resizing, or else I'd be sewing through a HUGE stack of leather - not a good idea.  It would also compromise the integrity of the seam at that point if I was going through so much.  So I marked the one inch in, sewed a seam and trimmed it.

Now I'm ready to sew the side seams... No pins - they totally don't go through leather!  when sewing leather you use clips - see below. they worked perfectly.  I had marked in ball point pen a trail of dots at one inch away from the previous seam line, and then drew out the taper line between the 13 and 19 inch marks.  This all mapped out my sewing line.  There was a spot - where the back yoke seam is - that i had to go real slow because it was thick.  I had issues at times with the thread breaking, it sort of shredded up on itself.  I used acrylic embroidery thread, because I was told to stay away from cotton, and not only do I have tons of embroidery thread, I surmised it would be a good choice for strength, and durability.  Even tho I had a few issues, I still believe I made a good choice.  This leather was thick, and I probably would have had the issue anyway, due to the fact that I am on a domestic sewing machine... Oh yeah - I did use a leather needle.

And so begins the sewing - Let's go for it! I really needed to feel comfortable because with leather you can't keep resewing over the same spots, as it weakens the leather.  The reason I was comfortable with this alteration was that I would be sewing fresh seams in this hide as the alteration progressed.  The only area of concern was the zigzag stitch for the waist, I needed it to be strong, but it couldn't be too close together to weaken the leather.  I hope the stitch settings I chose were wise.

So the side seams were finished and time to work on the waistband.  Needed to cut out the matching portion so I would be prepped for the assembling stitch.

I stitched a sample on the scraps to see if my settings were in the ball park and see what they looked like.  Looks good.

Okay side one is done. The critic in me didn't like the final result on this side, but I can't redo it, due to the weakening of the leather I mentioned earlier.  I will need to accept this.  I will tell you the other side came out fabulous... :-)

So, let's see now.. Did we do all this correctly?? Did we get from a 38 to a 34????

YES!!!!!!!!  Wooooo Hooooo!

Now the real test - Do they fit the user??? - Oh Yes!!!!! they do!!!!  I can't tell you how thrilled I am with this project!!!!  Do you know I had a few nay sayers that told me this couldn't or shouldn't be done....  I just knew I should be able to do it!  (My husband knew I could way before I did!)

Remember the before picture? All that room in the waist?   Ha!!! now look!


Here is the other before/after picture - How about that!!!!
Hubby loves his altered jeans and he said he's real happy now that he grabbed the 38's while they were still in stock, they are now officially a discontinued item, so it was even more unlikely for him to find a pair in the original size he wanted....
He's going to wear these tomorrow on his ride....
He told me it was a job well done. Hip Hip Hooray for me!

November 11th

Well they passed the riding test today!  One item of note was the front pockets.  Remember that I had to take them in? Well, by taking them in that inch, it made the pocket opening too small for his hands to fit comfortably, so that part of the seam ripped. I will need to leave that portion mobile on the pants and just secure the seam underneath and above to avoid further seam unravel, and we're good. 
It doesn't look bad when you're glancing at the jeans.  Unfortuanatley the holes will be there, unless i get a leather repair kit.  No one is inspecting them!!!  Even with the tiny tear they wore well on the ride today!
I still take the Hip Hip Hooray!

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