Back to Manufacturing: Making a Heron A-1

I am back in the shop working on my first serious order of jackets.  It seems like it has been forever since we have put needle to horsehide.  My favourite design often seems simple to make and given todays standards of cheap and simple imported jackets I thought it might be insightful to explain and show off why our jackets are so superior to a run of the mill imported jacket.  Each one of our A-1 Heron jackets is hand cut.  They have to be!  Because the hides are tanned in a traditional manner using vegetable tanning.  The hides have their own unique character.  When cutting a jacket, hides have to be matched for character, grain and thickness.  The leather is soaked for 3 months in a bark solution.  This makes for an incredibly beautiful long lasting leather that when milled really shows off the character of the animal it came from.  That character demands hand selection and cutting.


The first steps involve cutting the leather by laying the pattern out on a skin,  recording the size of the skin and minimizing the wastage of the leather.  Pieces are laid out and weighted down so that they don’t move when the skilled hands of the cutter follow around the pattern.  The cutter needs a steady hand in order not to “shave off” any of the pattern.  This could alter the actual pattern over time!


Each type of leather has to be separated in the case of a jacket requiring more than one type of leather.  When manufacturing you are ultimately trying to save time and wastage of materials, and leather is expensive!

Once each piece of horsehide is cut and notched and marked they go into a container holding all the pieces, the liner pieces, the hardware including zippers, buttons labels and the order sheet.  This was as each individual jacket is sewn any special instructions and all the parts are available and in one place.  In order to make a perfect jacket sometimes the pattern needs to be customized for the individual buying the jacket.



Himel Brothers Leather: The Family Story
Making a Heron A-1: Sewing the Body, Sleeves and Collar


  1. Finally an authentic 1920’s vintage copy , looks great
    what’s the weight of horse and goat

    Robert Nuovo , historian Levi’s Meatpacking NY NY

    ( John Burke refered me to you )

  2. John is awesome. I appreciate his patronage and wise advocation!

  3. Oh…the leather is 2.5 once 1.1 to 1.2 mm, all veg. tan.

  4. I’d love to see more photos of your construction process. I’m learning as I go and I have a lot to learn but practice makes perfect. And I just found the photos of your Avro jacket…I just finished my second ever leather jacket and it’s brown and black, too! Here’s my first:

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