Childhood Stuntman Dreams Are Realized

About: I am an engineer in the automation industry by trade but really like to make things on the side. My interests flit around to cover many things including welding, bikes, costumes, cooking, felting, and more....

When I was just a lad I had an Evel Knievel stunt cycle. I played with that thing until it was lost or fell apart. For a boy growing up in the 70's, Evel Knievel was a hero. My brother and I would dress up our bikes and make jumps trying to recreate his stunts. For several years now I have known I wanted the iconic white leather jumpsuit he wore. I originally planned it for last year but time was not on my side and I put it off till this year.

Leather is expensive and hard to work with but I wanted something that looked good and did not cost a small fortune. The obvious material choice was pleather. I had the Kwik sew pattern sitting around for another project and figured it would be perfect for this one. I could just make the full coveralls omitting the pockets and adding the collar, cuffs, and bell bottoms.

Supplies:

Kwik Sew pattern K3389

4-5 yards white pleather

1/8 yard red pleather

Should have used 1/8 yard blue pleather but forgot and so had to improvise.

White, red, and blue thread.

Leather needles for sewing machine.

zipper

2 yards blue material for the stripes.

5 packs of wide bias tape in red. I had to go back for more and ended up using single and dbl fold. Either work fine but the double fold is a little easier to attach to the blue.

Harley Davidson #1 patch from Amazon.

Chuckles candy patch from ebay.

foam floor mat

2 inch velcro strip

Hot glue

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Step 1: Cutting Out Pattern and Material

This is just the first step in any project that involves a sewing pattern. Read the instructions. Then read them again. Then look up terms online that you don't understand and read the instructions again.

Then you need to measure yourself as instructed and draw some lines on the pattern where it needs to be altered. Since this is a set of coveralls they are made to be big and go over regular clothing. I figured I could make it a little smaller as I assembled it.

So I cut out the pattern pieces I needed and pinned them to my pleather and cut all of that out also.

No interfacing needed for this one because pleather is so thick.

Step 2: Making the Stripes and Stars

For this I estimated the width from pictures online and then cut my blue an inch and a half wider than needed. I then pressed the seams flat and added the red edging. I just folded it over the blue and pined it in place. I did one side and then the other so I could make sure the finished width was correct and the same for each piece. I sewed them on the machine so that I could just cut them to fit as needed during the main assembly.

I just figured I would need a 5 or 6 lengths of these and so I just made them as long as the bias tape. About 1 1/2 yard.

For the stars I measured the width between the red bias tape and made that the width of the star. I then used a compass to draw a star on paper as a template. On all my scraps of white pleather I used the template to mark up the star and cut them out. While I was waiting to glue them on I lined them all up and put a weight on them. This kept them from curling at the tips. I think I made 21 of them total.

I waited to put the stars on until I had the costume fully made so I could get the spacing right.

Step 3: Assembly

I followed the pattern assembly instructions as written. The only thing I had to keep in mind was when to install the stripes. I did this with an eye for using the sewing machine and so I did as many as I could on flat pieces. The front ones were done when the two front pieces and the yoke were assembled so I could get them lined up. The back V also went on at the shoulder seams before I sewed the lower back on.

Sewing pleather is pretty easy, you just need a decent machine and leather needles. One thing you can't do is press seams with a hot iron. Pleather melts! Luckily pleather also keeps it's shape well enough if you just push it down where you want it.

LEGS: When instructed to sew the legs I only sewed them down 2/3 of the way, leaving about 15 inches open at the bottom. After some experimenting with the bell bottoms I saw that just adding a panel on one side and sewing up the other as normal would give me plenty of flair. So I sewed the inside legs all the way down and on the outside I pinned in a triangle about 15 inches high and 8 inches wide at the bottom. When doing this always pin like sides together and work with the project inside out. With the flair panel sewn in I then pinned the leg stripes on and cut them up the middle to match the flair. I folded the blue under and pressed with an iron and pinned it on. Then I sat down to watch TV and hand sew the stripes on. I could only do a little with the machine because of only being able to jam so much fabric into a small area.

COLLAR: For this I just used the regular collar pattern but extended the points out as much as I wanted. You make this in two pieces, sew them right sides together and turn them right side out. I used a small paint brush end to get the tips all the way out. Also the pattern calls for interfacing to stiffen various parts. With pleather you can ignore all of that, it is plenty stiff on its own.

CUFFS: The pattern just calls for folding over the sleeve ends and sewing for a cuff. This would not do for me. I actually grabbed a shirt with french cuffs and used that as a template and then exaggerated it to fit my need. Like the collar this was two pieces pinned with like sides facing then turned right side out. I was able to sew these on to the sleeve ends with the machine and left a bit of extra in the sleeve so that it did not irritate my wrist or become visible. I finished the cuffs with gold cuff links and just used a hole punch to insert them.

Step 4: Belt Buckle and Cuff Letters

For the belt buckle I used foam floor mat as the base and covered it with pleather. I used the photos to estimate size and then cut out an oval shape. I took a piece of pleather a bit bigger and went around it with a glue gun folding and gluing. For this step I went slow and pulled it as tight as I could. I also did some trimming on the back side so that the folded pleather was not too thick.

At this point I realized that I needed red pleather and so went back to the store for 1/8 yard.

I then hand drew the E and K on paper and cut them out as templates. Using the same method to mark them with chalk as on the stars I cut them all out. Then I realized that the K should have been blue. Oops. At this point I did not want to go back to the craft store and so I improvised. I took my red Ks and used hot glue to attach some blue fabric to it. I then trimmed the excess blue fabric.

The blue fabric started fraying at the edges so I dripped super glue all over. This made it stiff and stopped the fraying. Overall it looked good but would be better to have been done with blue pleather. I then used hot glue to attach the letters to the buckle and one each to the cuffs.

I then used hot glue to attach the buckle to the belt piece that I left loose and added sticky back velcro to hold it closed. I also put a few hand stitches on the velcro to hold it on.

I then went back to all the stars and used hot glue to attach them to the stripes. I was able to get a count from pictures online and then just placed them evenly. I also sewed on the shoulder patch and the #1 patch was sticky backed so I just used that to hold it on.

Step 5: Finished!

Due to fire in the area we were forced to evacuate when I was 99% done. I took a picture of it just in case it was not there when I came home. Thanks to favorable conditions and an overwhelming response from fire departments all over the fire was kept out of my neighborhood. Thank you Cal Fire and everyone else.

I got to wear this to work on Halloween and out for a bit. The pleather is pretty warm but not too bad. I paired it with a pair of white boots I already had for another costume. If I did not have those I would have just bought something cheap and spray painted them.

Happy Halloween and remember, "Bones heal, Pain is temporary, and chicks dig scars" EK

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