A plaid and leather ‘duster’ for fall


Hi all! Wearing a coat in the fall is a no-brainer, but finding the perfect one can be a bit tricky. There are days when it’s cool but not cold and wool is too much, but a summer jacket isn’t enough. That’s when a duster comes in handy!

‘Duster’ is an odd word for a topper, and a friend questioned me about why I used it, so, I looked it up. The original dusters were full-length, light-colored canvas coats worn by horsemen to protect their clothing from trail dust. Well, since I haven’t been on a horse in years, who knows why duster came to be such a catch-all term for me. I use it pretty liberally for any knee length topper that is more than a blazer, but not quite heavy enough to be called a coat.


My duster is  made from a plaid cotton blend, that is lined in silk and trimmed with pleather at the collar and cuffs. I’ve had the fabric in my stash for awhile. It languished there, forgotten and unloved because I didn’t quite know what to do with it. I love plaid, but sometimes, it’s a bit too stiff looking for my taste. But a recent sewing room ‘re-org’ brought it to my attention again, and woudn’t you know it? I’d stored it in box with a remnant of textured ‘pleather’ (fake leather). Inspiration!

The pattern I used for my duster is Butterick 6382, a semifitted lined jacket with neckline, pocket, sleeve and length variations. I chose version D, a knee length coat with pockets and a collar.


I cut the pattern as designed with a few modifications:

  1. The coat’s front bodices meet at the middle but don’t close. I extended the front bodice pieces by an inch and a half so that they would overlap then added buttonholes and buttons.
  2. Because my fabric is a bit tame I livened it up with some textured ‘pleather’ for contrast. The pocket is trimmed with a 1′ band.img_8608
  3. I added 3″ pleather cuffs to the sleeeves.
  4. I cut the collar from ‘pleather’ and skipped the interfacing.

The pattern was pretty easy to sew, and the instructions were great. Of course, the plaid matching took a bit of effort, but that’s all on me for choosing plaid in the first place! The duster is a-line, and the shaping is accomplished by long bodice darts in the front and back. The most difficult part of the project was the additon of the trim. Since I chose pleather, this was a bit challenging.

What I learned: Pleather does not like to bend. Well, I thought that was okay because I could shape it by pressing it. Ha!  My first attempt at low heat resulted in a MELT DOWN, a mess of damaged plastic that almost ruined my iron. Yes, I did use a pressing cloth, but you have to be really, really careful. I eventually discovered that it could be coaxed into shape by using my fingers and a corner press for the collar. (This required a bit of patience). Also, my pleather remembered every pin prick, so I used fusible seam tape to secure pockets before stitching them in place.


In case you were wondering, this is not a leaf-raking coat, even though someone I live with probably wishes it was. Ha! Frankly, I’m not sure about this make. Yes, I’m glad I did it because it pushed me to learn more about sewing with ‘pleather’ which was fun. I guess I’m not wild about this look or these colors on me. I do like how the duster feels when you wear it though, probably because of the silk lining. Maybe I should add two more pockets at chest level to give the duster a bit more style?  Or maybe it’s the shape? Belted, or unbelted?

Opinions welcome!

I’d love to know if any of you have experienced a pleather melt down as I did? And any ideas on how you can get the stuff to bend and mold? Yes, it’s a challenging fabric, but I’m dying to use it again, maybe for a skirt or jacket. Tips and advice is welcome!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!


24 thoughts on “A plaid and leather ‘duster’ for fall

  1. I’ve never noticed this pattern before. The cropped version would make a great jacket for work — very Chanel-esque. I’m super impressed that you added buttonholes to this pattern. What a great idea!If you’re not crazy about the colors, maybe pair it with a bright red scarf to pick up on the subtle red tones of the coat? That might help it pop.I prefer it unbelted. It has a more cool sexy masculine vibe that way. And pop yo collar!

    1. I love the idea of a red scarf! Yes, I think it’s the colors that are bothering me. This would be a perfect pattern for a Chanel style jacket and I can see you in it:) and yes, I will pop my collar! Consider it done…

  2. I think it looks great! I like it both ways as its always nice to have the option to do both, the pleather looks fab, esp like the collar, would using a hairdryer to heat the pleather work? It might make it more mouldable then using a clapper or something heavy on it whilst it cools.

  3. I am kind of surprised to see that you aren’t quite sure about this one, because it looks amazing on you!! The pleather accents really add a special touch and make the jacket look high-end. I also think you look very chic in it, but perhaps adding a scarf as some other helpful folks suggested would help liven it up for you? I can totally understand the issue of the colors not feeling totally “you” even though the final garment looks good–I think that probably happens to all of us! =)

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I’m glad you like the pleather accents. That was the fun part of this project. I do think the scarf idea is fabulous, and just might have to find the perfect fabric to make one. But I am reminded about how important it is to take my time when buying fabric, even to drape it in front of a mirror in the store before taking the plunge gwhich cam be awkward:)

  4. Yes belted!–I think it connects the dots between the bits of pleather and gives the right bit of shaping. The pleather looks great with the plaid. I’ve totally had a similar experience with pleather, having melted a collar (and having had to piece it subsequently) on my favorite motorcycle jacket. But I really like the lines on this one, and if you’re not fond of the colors, give the pattern another go with different fabrics. You do a great job at picking styles for your body!

    1. Oh, it’s so comforting to know that my pleather melt down wasn’t unheard of:) I think that’s a great idea to give this pattern another try. It’s definitely a keeper!

  5. Love this coat, it looks great!
    Did you try a leather needle? You could try a teflon foot, sometimes specially for pleather? A walking foot? Glue the seams flat, like leather. It is tricky to sew, no matter what you try, but don’t be beaten

    1. Thanks! I did use a leather needle but I’ve never used a teflon foot. In fact, I’ve never heard of it 😉 yes, I will not be beaten! A pleather skirt is in my future!!

      1. The most horrible moment I had stitching leather, was making a sample for someone else! One minute it was stitching nicely and then off on a wobble, leather and pleather push your straight line away from you and next thing you know you’re off the fabric!!! Oops. Have fun and show it who’s boss!

  6. Haha funnily enough, I’m currently reading a fantasy novel set sometime in the past and duster keeps getting mentioned in it. I sort of deduced that it was an item of clothing but never knew exactly what type, but now I know – and if that’s what they wore back then, then your duster definitely does duster’s of the past justice – it’s a nice shape and the fabric works well with it.

    1. Yes, I’ve only just learned about teflon feet! I might have to make a small investment in one:) When it comes to sewing, I’m all for lots and lots of tools to get me where I want to go!

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