Loki Jacket, Part 3: Sleeves and Shoulders

This is a continuation of posts relating to my current steampunk costuming project

I have a love-hate relationship with the sleeves and shoulders.  The most successful part of whole coat was the sleeves, which is good because they were a pain in the ass to do. Perhaps the least successful part was the shoulders, which were necessary because of the sleeves.

Cutting the Sleeves

The sleeves require the first major cutting of the entire project, so I need a solid plan of what I want and how to get it.

Loki’s jacket is a patchwork of back and green panels, mostly in strips. I’ve decided I want the green to be inserts, which actually is how I originally thought the jacket was constructed. So I’m going to cut away leather and replace it with fabric.

I place the jacket on my dress form and sketch what I want to cut out with chalk. Chalk is nice because it will show up on black, and it will wipe off (or wash off if you’re using a washable fabric).

Then I try it on, because never ever presume it will look the same on you as a dress form. Finally, I cut, taking the minimum I am sure I want gone. I can always take more later (although I don’t).

Here I encounter the liner problem again (first described in a previous post).  Cutting the leather means cutting the liner as well, and the remainder is left flopping around the inside of the sleeve, which is beyond annoying. I consider ripping it out entirely (the first of many times) but refrain. Without the lining my arms would rub against raw leather, making it difficult to put on and take off the coat.

Attaching the Inserts

First, I take the piece of leather I have removed from the sleeve and use it as a template. I pin it to the green fabric and cut with about a ½” margin around it. Then I place the fabric inside the sleeve and line the template back up with where it was removed. Finally, I place fabric glue on the green fabric and press the sleeve leather against the glue.

Because the glue needs time to dry, and the sleeve is a difficult place to work, I’m actually

Types of Braid Used In The Steampunk Loki Project
Various trims.  Here I use the black gimp.  I will also use the wide black trim on the shoulders, described below.

going to have to take a couple days properly gluing it in place. Then I can unpin and remove the template, which I’ll then use on the second sleeve in an attempt to make the sleeves similar.

After that, I use fabric glue to create a braid effect with small, black, gimp braid trim, which is the bit that I love so much out of all the work I have done so far.


As I expected, the shoulders were the hardest to deal with, and they remain my least liked part of the project.

The shoulder pads were too large and too integrated into the coat: they extended into the arms  and were sewn in place by the same stitches that connected the coat’s arm to its shoulder.  This meant I had to cut through it when I added the green portion to the upper sleeve.  (In retrospect, creating that look would have been far easier if I turned them into appliques like the knotwork at the bottom of the coat, which I will address in a later post.  Alternatively, I probably could have cut the window in the sleeve farther from the shoulder.  Not sure why I didn’t, honestly.)

So, now there’s this ragged and ugly white foam sticking out from the shoulders.  The answer is once more inspired by the reference material: large shoulder coverings that drape over the ragged edges.

This required a whole lot of guesswork, which I also hate.  So now I’m frustratingly working on something required by another frustrating problem.  It’s not fun, and I’m constantly second-guessing, but it’s an absolute necessity at this point.

First, I try hand-sewing the shoulders to somewhat close the gap revealing the padding.  However, that requires going through two layers of leather, so it’s really rough.  I ended up driving the blunt end of a needle into the thumb.  Twice.  Thimbles are your friend.

A whole lot of trial and error then creates the general shape of the covers, which I’ve done in micro-suede rather than the silky stuff. The silky stuff would flop around too much, which would probably be counter-productive to the point of the shoulder pieces in the first place, and just wouldn’t look right, I suspect.

Reasonably satisfied with the shapes, I hem and trim with wide, black braid. And yet, when I start gluing it in place, it’s still a little small.  The answer?  More. Trim.  I can do this pretty much indefinitely.

Shoulder piece on Steampunk Loki Coat
Here the micro-suede shoulder piece drapes over the ugly foam shoulders.  Beneath, the black gimp trim has created a braid effect with the silky green insert in the sleeve.

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