MHL Project: Spats from Dad’s Old Leather Jacket

A contraction of spatterdashes, spats are a type of footwear accessory covering the instep and ankle. They first came out in the late 19th century from military origins.  They were worn to protect shoes from dust, mud, water, etc.  You’ve probably seen them before but didn’t know what they were called.  I sure didn’t.

Spats and the tropical heat and humidity in the Philippines do not mix.  You’d be a fool to wear long socks — much more if you wear spats.  But here in Georgia, with it’s cold and often windy fall and winter months, they are great for keeping your legs warm.  Also, I like the way they look on my legs. 🙂

My latest project is to make spats from my dad’s old leather jacket.

I wish I had the photo of my dad happily wearing his Wilson’s leather jacket.  He bought it in Hawaii in the 80’s when he was touring the US with a theatre troup.  When he came home to the Philippines, with it’s tropical and humid climate, he never got to wear it again.  It hung in my parent’s closet for a decade.  He took it out once to clean it with mink oil and officially gave it to me.  It was too big for me but my brother didn’t want it.  I cared for it after that, cleaned it the way he showed me.  But I never got to wear it.

Bronne didn’t get to meet my dad but I knew my dad wouldn’t have minded him to have his jacket.  Before he left for Georgia, I showed Bronne the leather jacket and it fit him perfectly.  Plus, Georgia’s winters would assure that it will get worn again.  I was glad that it was going to have new adventures with a new owner three decades later.

It spent two months travelling in a crate with the many things I couldn’t leave behind.  Maybe I didn’t pack it carefully enough (although I thought I did); maybe it was the many years it hung unused in my parent’s jam-packed closet.  Whatever it was, the moment Bronne put my dad’s leather jacket on, the seam along the spine and right arm ripped.

I deliberated on how to mend it, or if it could still be saved.  One thing I was sure of, it won’t get thrown away or donated.  Just thinking about how my dad beamed while wearing it in his Hawaii photo, I knew I had to keep it or, at least, a part of it with me.  Two years after I stored it along with my other future projects, I finally made my mind up to make my own spanking pair of spats.

Here they are:

It entails sewing but it’s not that hard and is inexpensive, too.  Aside from the jacket, I used seam binding, two leather strips, two 8-inch garters, two buttons, needle and thread, some alligator clips, and a pair of scissors.

I prepared a gif slide show to show you how I made it.  If you have questions, please feel free to ask via comment section.

The leather strips I used came from leather pants I thrifted recently.  The garters I used have holes in them for buttoning.  I salvaged them from some old clothes I got from freecycle,but I’m sure you can get it at any craft or fabric store.  I thought mine were black but they turned out to be dark blue and it shows in the photo.  But they helped hold my spats up and kept them from turning round and round while I walked.  I wore them for a whole evening at an art exhibit and they stayed in place like a good doggy.  Plus, they received a couple of nice compliments so they’re very pleased.

I’m planning to turn the rest of the jacket into a leather vest, since I don’t have one (and have always wanted a none-sleazy-looking one).  It’s going to be a challenge because the leather has lost its strength and suppleness.  But I’m going to do it so watch out for that.

I hope this inspires you to upcycle your old stuff, or maybe even to make your very own pair of spats.  Happy upcycling! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “MHL Project: Spats from Dad’s Old Leather Jacket

  1. One thing I can tell you for sure, your Dad is absolutely thrilled that you care about anything he used to have. I’m sure he’s beaming that you found a way to wear it as well. Very imaginative! Very touching.

  2. Malou Meria says:

    You sure are your mom’s daughter ! That is so creative and innovative ! But did you recycle the leather vest too ?

    • I plan to! The thing is, the leather rips easily. I’m experimenting on how to strengthen it by adding other pieces of leather. 🙂

      I’m sure my dad is happy that at least I’m able to wear his jacket’s arms on my legs to keep me warm. Thanks for the comment, Tita! Love, love you!

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