It’s almost the end of summer, which is always a bittersweet time of the year. While I’ll miss the long hours of sunlight, outdoor drinking and, most of all, summer Fridays here at the office, I have to admit that I’m excited about being able to wear more than cut-offs and a tank top. I’m really looking forward to all the sartorial options that open up with cooler temperatures. This means layering and experimenting with different textures; and by far the one thing I’m most excited about is wearing leather! Tops, skirts, shorts, jackets — bring it! So this week, I’ll show you how to make a leather mini-skirt!
Leather skirt: I went to the thrift store and found a great gray leather skirt, perfect for my purposes. With my limited sewing abilities, it was really important to find something that already fit my waist. The length is extremely simple to adjust, but the fit’s gotta be just right from the start. I was pretty open to any color and cut of skirt, I just happened to find this amazingly fall-appropriate color. Aside from fitting into my very minimal budget, purchasing leather from a second hand store serves the dual purpose of recycling fabric and saving a bit of cow hide.
Cut the skirt. Cut a straight line across the skirt, leaving about an inch for the hem. This skirt had a slit in the back so I decided to make the end the skirt just above the slit. This made for a very mini skirt!
Hem the skirt. This is where things get a bit tricky and it might be really helpful to have a friend. Flip the skirt inside out and fold up the hem. It was a little difficult for me to get this perfectly straight when I had the skirt flat on the ground. I had to have my sister try on the skirt to get it just right. Leather is very thick so don’t try to use pins to secure the hem in place. You can use tape, which works just as well and allows for easier adjustments. As I already mentioned, leather is very thick and unless you know how to use a sewing machine, which I most certainly do not, you’ll be better off crazy-gluing the hem in place. You only need to apply a small dab of crazy glue on the inside of the skirt and hold it in place for a couple of seconds for the leather to stick. If, despite all your best efforts, you happen to glue the hem crookedly, like I did, you can easily undo the hem (provided you didn’t use too much crazy glue) and reattach.
Crease the hem. Now that your hem is evenly and securely in place, crease it to create a crisp hem. Heat may cause damage to leather and cause it to wear out prematurely, so naturally there was no leather setting on my iron. The suggested method to crease the leather is to fold it over an edged surface and pound it with a rubber mallet. Since I had already glued the hem in place, that was out of the question. Fuck it, I decided to iron the skirt anyway. I started out on the wool/silk setting, making sure to apply heat only to the inside part of the skirt that would not visible, on the chance that I did do damage. I soon realized that this was fairly ineffective, and proceeded to ramp it up to the maximum setting, and even at that setting, I had to leave the heat on for quite a while. There wasn’t any damage to leather as a result of my having ironing it. So now you have a leather mini-skirt.
Add zipper. Zippers were perhaps the most ubiquitous trimming of the past season. The exposed zipper is all the rage and, despite seeing it everywhere, I’m still really into it. You can buy zippers at any fabric store and even some of the better stocked drug stores. Choose the zipper that most closely matches the length of your skirt. I happened to find one that was the exact length of my skirt — what luck! You can shorten a zipper though, if necessary. Most zippers have a metal clasp at the bottom to stop the pull tab. These can usually be easily removed and placed higher up on the zipper to shorten it. A more talented seamstress than I would have sewn the zipper to the skirt, and perhaps even made it an actual functioning zipper. I simply slapped it on with some more crazy glue.
Voila! Your very own exposed zipper leather mini-skirt! I hope you try this out and, if you do, please post your creations in the comments!