I so love PR friends!
Clothing engineer totally solved the stitching problem. I got Gutterman heavy duty thread and a topstitching needle and I can actually quilt the leather with the much prettier heavy duty thread.
If this turns out at all, I will owe fabulousness to her!
Now for the details:
Quilted with heavy duty Gutterman thread with a size 16 topstitching needle. I layered one layer of natural batting between the leather and my under-layer which is hair canvas. I spaced the seams with 1" masking tape which didn't mess up the finish of the leather. I chose the hair canvas because of its crispness and its ability to hold shape. I saw no reason to add the bulk of another layer of leather.
You can see on the backside that there are still some thread loops and knots, but I don't see that being a deal breaker. FWIW, I think the trouble with the thread loops arose from where the top thread got caught on something in the bobbin case. Just my thoughts. I will handle this by putting some fray check where the thread comes through so it doesn't pull through to the right side.
For the record, the hardest part was getting a straight piece of masking tape off of the ancient roll that I found in a box in the garage. It sticks and tears very easily, but it doesn't leave a residue on the leather.
Sorry, someone pointed out that I hadn't posted a pattern picture. This can still be found on sewing patterns.com (I think). Or you could just do what I do and send Marfy and email and ask them to send it to you. They will kindly oblige and send you a paypal invoice. As long as UPS doesn't lose it!
I am quilting the front and back yoke, omitting those front yoke tabs and using a Riri rainbow zipper instead of those buttons.