Material Exploration: Leather and Imitation Leather


For my project I wanted to explore using leather and leather-imitation fabrics in sewing projects so I can get some experience working with them and learning different techniques based on the needs of the material.

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I tried brown and blue vinyl (top left and bottom right, respectively), real cattle leather (top middle and bottom left), conductive fabric (top right), and imitation leather (bottom middle)


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My first experiment was to make a “leather” glove that I could wear while using my phone. I drew out a pattern in the dark blue imitation leather (from Fabricland), then cut it out, leaving about a half inch to give some room when I flipped the garment inside out (because I hand-sewed it inverse). Before reversing it though, I sewed in a small patch of conductive fabric that would be pressed to the phone by my finger tip.

The fabric was VERY easy to hand sew – it’s a little stretchy but not so much that it affects the stitch at all. I tried sewing it on a home sewing machine (not industrial) but the stitches ripped through the entire fabric like I was cutting it with scissors. It was suggested that I change the size of my stitches to be longer but then the foot of the machine wouldn’t move over the fabric (kept sticking) so I had to layer tissue paper under the foot on top of the fabric so it could glide. Then, upon removing the tissue paper, the stitches ripped through the entire fabric again.

You can see the awesome stretch in the fabric when I make a fist, and though I wore it a little every day for a week, the only stitches that ripped were along the outer corner of my wrist.


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This experiment was meant to examine making wearable pockets that I could keep things in (like batteries and electronic components) using a weird vinyl fabric that I bought in two colours, and experimenting with different sewing notions.

I bought the fabric from a store on Queen St W (this store had no name; I asked the owner), and the “leather” hook-and-eye thing from Fabricland. I started by making a small rectangle by sewing a small piece of the brown vinyl and a small piece of the blue vinyl together (front-to-front) and flipping it inside out. Then I sewed on each triangular pad from the notions and sized them so it would fit my wrist.

I like this experiment because it turned out clean and simple, and I learned more about hand-sewing techniques with vinyl and I think I’m going to use the pocket technique (without sewing all the way through with the notions, obviously) in one of my future projects


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This one is still in progress; I laser-etched this cool square pattern on a piece of real leather (thanks again, Hillary!) when we took our field trip to STEAMLabs a couple weeks ago, and I talked to Lindy in the lab there about how I could turn it into a wallet. I think I’m going to use this leather for the outside of the wallet, and use the brown vinyl for the inside (because the real leather is way too thick to be used for the entire thing)

I used an industrial punch to poke holes in the leather, to practice what I’m going to need to do to sew the wallet together, but the piece was so thick that it took forever to get the remaining fabric out of the hole and it still looks pretty messy. I need to keep experimenting with this one, but hopefully I’ll have it finished for class next week – will update this post when it’s done!