King Of Leather

 

Kenneth King at Mood Fabrics

 

Last Tuesday, the debonair and ever entertaining Kenneth King shared his knowledge of working with leather and suede with a group of sewists at Mood’s NY locale.   What.  A. TREAT.  Leave aside the fact that I could listen to this man talk about cardboard for ninety minutes…he covered enough about this enormous topic to make us all feel like paying Dmitry in leathers a visit straight after.

 

Kenneth King at Mood Fabrics

 

I had no idea leather was so…manipulable.  Is that a word?  I don’t feel I should call it manipulative, as I don’t think it’s trying to control my actions behind my back.  Unless you count the fact that the mantra I MUST HAZ LEATHER is now on repeat in my head, that could possibly be considered thought control.  There are so many ways to mold and shape this material.  For example, the dart.  You can slice that jammy open and slide it over rather than folding it.  Besides making up samples right there and then on his droolworthy vintage Bernina, Kenneth had a glorious handful of leather samples with different seam finishes–just look at that slot seam.  I want a full length leather duster, slot seamed from shoulder to floor.  How cool would that be?!  Several times, Kenneth advised using an “acid green contrast leather, peeking out of a white bodice.  And how about a blood red leather paint on the edges of the seam?”

GET OUT OF MY HEAD KENNETH KING.

You can hammer this stuff.  Glue it.  Tape it.  Shave it.  (Seriously… with a callus shaver.)  And oh, so many new notions to play with…

 

Kenneth King at Mood Fabrics

 

My sewing desk would be like a mechanic shop!  Mechanics, they hold a special place in my heart.  My dad owned a gas station, and taught me, to the point where I could diagram it, how a combustible engine worked.  I floored my 7th grade english teacher by presenting this information in a paper, and then lecturing the class on it without looking at said paper.   Ah, Mr. Schultz.  He knew how to push my feminist buttons, and I knew how to wreck his chauvinist view of the world. But I digress.

 

Kenneth King at Mood Fabrics

 

The insides of Mr. King’s kit.  As fellow bloggers Devra and Tricia noted, every time he pulled out a tool, it went back in exactly as it was.  I can only imagine the order of his studio.  One brave attendee asked to borrow a pencil from his kit to make notes.  I almost fell over as I watched her grab a red waxy pencil to scribble with.  I have to wonder what would have happened if she’d asked to touch his beloved Bernina…

 

Kenneth King at Mood Fabrics

 

Now that coat, I DID touch.  That’s the lining you’re looking at.  THE LINING.  The outer shell is made from… wait for it… synthetic hair weave.  The leather collar is handstitched with great big thick diagonal swaths.  It’s glorious.

Have you worked with leather?  Would you?  I’m completely smitten, and the leather boots I wore to class obviously say “I’m okay with it.”  I kind of want to make a forties cocktail dress out of it.

Possibly with a nice hair weave trim.

 

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Comments


  • Ginger
    February 8, 2013

    Ohm’gah, this looks like an awesome time! That hair coat! What?! So cool!

    • oonaballoona
      February 9, 2013

      gives “hair shirt” a whole new meaning.

  • Stephani
    February 8, 2013

    Oh, Oona, you don’t even know the half of Kenneth’s fabulousness. You should see him among his adoring fans as he teaches at sewing conferences. And he’s such a down-to-earth, creative person. He posts techniques on ThreadsMagazine.com pretty frequently, and they’re all mind-blowing.

    • oonaballoona
      February 9, 2013

      yes, he’s really a such a humble personality in an out of this world package, isn’t he? crazy mix.

  • Becky
    February 9, 2013

    I did slice up an unwanted, worn leather trenchcoat one time, along with the skirt of one of my few surviving high school dresses, to attempt to make a leather messenger bag. DISASTER. No matter how I fiddled with the tension and stitch length, my normally awesome older-model Bernina would have none of it. The stitches skipped and the seams were too fragile to actually hold anything. (It is hiding in the archives of my blog somewhere, and I think I need to go back to my finished projects section and label it as a fail.) I held onto it for years thinking I could fix it, and finally tossed it out in a recent preparing-to-move purge of my bag bin. I do still have some pieces of that trenchcoat left, and I’d love to go back and make myself an obi belt sometime, just so that leather doesn’t have me permanently beat!

    • oonaballoona
      February 9, 2013

      oh, you must defeat that leather! one thing kenneth talked about was teflon tape– it magically changes any foot into a teflon foot. maybe that would help?

  • Rachel Haggerty
    February 9, 2013

    I love challenging peoples chauvanistic ideas, too! And I would LOOOVE to see Kenneth King some day. I await your posting on what you make, as I have loved your articles. Keep it up!

    • oonaballoona
      February 9, 2013

      rachel, thank you so much! i may just tackle some leather today. i hope you get to experience kenneth in person. totally inspiring.

  • Amy
    February 9, 2013

    Oh, to be in NYC to take in all these sewing lessons. Lace from Khalje, Leather from King. Your already amazing sewing talent is going to go through the roof, Oona. It’s going to be fun to watch…

    • Steph
      February 11, 2013

      But you don’t have to be in NYC. Both Kenneth and Susan travel all over the country to sewing shops and sewing conferences giving classes and workshops. Susan lives in Maryland, and she holds some classes there each year.

    • oonaballoona
      February 16, 2013

      :) amy that’s so sweet!

  • Sewjourner
    February 11, 2013

    I took a class with Kenneth and I must say his hand stitching is just beautiful. He does exquisite work.

    His voice was so soothing and when he critiqued my work, no one but me and him could hear it. He is a wonderful teacher.

    • oonaballoona
      February 16, 2013

      i love that! although, he did say, if a student leaves their scissors behind unmarked… they’re his. and i love that too.

  • Suzanne
    February 13, 2013

    How is it that I never knew Mood has classes like this? There needs to be a big button somewhere on the site that says “CLASSES!!!”" How cool.

    • oonaballoona
      February 16, 2013

      that’s a great suggestion! they have signs up at the store, and there’s a small link to classes at the bottom of the site, but a button would be great.