Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Laced sleepsack - step-by-step Part 1

It's time to work on another project together. One we haven't done before - a zippered and laced sleepsack with attached hood. This project is a bit more complicated than others I have shared, but hopefully I can explain it so it all makes sense. Plus, I'll be showing a couple of tips that I wish someone had shown me when I was starting out... It's such a nice day in the studio, the weather is perfect - let's get started.
I'll be using a heavy-weight black buffalo hide for this restraint - the first time I have tried working with this type of leather. It is nice and heavy but soft, traits that can be hard to find in the same hide. It has a glossy, waxy finish which can be buffed to a high gloss, and the feel of this restraint will be very strict when laced tightly on. The occupant will not be going anywhere without her master's permission.
Because there will be a zipper running the complete length of the sleepsack, from the top of the head to the ankles, there will be 2 parts to the rear panel of the hood, as shown above. The other pattern pieces include the shoulders, foot pocket bottom and sides, internal sleeves, 2 front panels, 2 rear panels and a rear tongue. I'll also make a long thin strip to carry both the grommets and the zipper. More on that piece later...

It's time to start clipping to prep the pieces for sewing. You can see the front center seam clipped below:
Also, the front of the hood:
The rear of the foot pocket, along with the lacing strip connected to the rear hood zipper strip. This will make more sense later, don't worry!
Also: the darts that help the shoulder pieces take shape.
On the front I want an access zipper, so the front seam is just sewn above and below the zipper opening.
I glue and flatten the seam around the opening, then set in the zipper and stitch it in place.
Before sewing the zipper in, I am sure to punch a small hole where the zipper slider can rest when it is pulled closed.
Next, I cut a tongue for the access zipper, and hold in place with tape for sewing.
That should keep any skin away from the zipper...

Here are the shoulder darts sewn, glued and flattened. These darts really help the leather conform to the rounded shape of the shoulder.
Notice I left the little wings at the seam allowance? You don't want to trim those yet. More on that later...

On what will become the zippered opening on the rear of the hood, you can see how the parts fit together in this picture. I need the seam allowance to give the leather strength, which is why this piece isn't cut out of a single piece of leather. I need a folded edge on both sides. That makes sense, right?
I placed the front of the hood on the new hood last I carved last month in order to begin shaping the leather. I really love the way this thing helps me get the form I want, especially with this heavy-weight leather.
Here are the darts at the top of the 2 rear panels, sewn, glued and flattened.
At this stage, we're ready to sew the side seam that connects the rear panels to the front panel. It starts coming together pretty fast, but we do have a ways to go yet.
Once sewn, we'll glue and flatten the side seams.

And pound the seams flat with the mallet.

Looking good...
Now we can set in the shoulders, with the usual clip, sew, glue and pound-it-flat technique.

Also, we can sew the top seam for the rear of the hood together. Then connect the front of the hood to the rear by sewing along the side seam.
I put the hood back on the form overnight, held in place with painter's tape. It just looks incredible on the form!
This concludes part 1... See you next time!


  1. I see that you've posted a few patterns in more recent posts. Any chance you could post a pattern for a zippered sleepsack such as the one in this post? I'd like to try to make a latex sleepsack, but have found surprisingly little information and inspiration online.

    1. Dear Rubber Cat,

      Creating a sleepsack pattern is something I want to do at some point, but it is a lot harder because of the size. I can only scan up to about 8.5 x 14 inches, and most of the pieces for the sleepsack are much larger than that...