I know that I’ve not been posting very much lately. A combination of other hobbies, a lack of thrifting, and honestly, a lack of drive to do alterations have collided and resulted in very little in terms of fit pictures or articles. I haven’t stopped caring about what I wear; I still make sure to dress well, but I just haven’t bought or done much in terms of new material for you all.
As I alluded to Monday, I have been working on a little project to get my creative juices going again. Just so I don’t get too long winded yet, I’ll just tell you what I did.
I made a denim jacket. Out of a pair of pants.
Two weeks ago, I was out thrifting when I came across a pair of jeans that looked nice in terms of color. The denim was a deep blue. I could tell that they were far too big for me, but my curiousity was piqued and when I looked I saw the selvedge line. When I looked closer, I saw that while the denim itself was great, the jeans were not: They were about 6 sizes away from my waist size, they were designed to be baggy jeans, and the details were pretty bad. I didn’t get a picture of them as they were, but they were very similar to these:
The differences were that the pocket stitching was fully red, the contrast stitching was red and yellow, and there was a weird, random fold/contrast stitch at the knee. Normally, I would put these back but the selvedge called to me and I plopped down the 5 dollars to buy them.
I knew that I couldn’t just slim them down, as I still didn’t like the stitching and a job like that would be basically impossible. So, looking at how big the legs were, and how…not big I am, I realized that there could be enough denim there to make a jacket. I knew it was crazy, but hell, this Tumblr is founded on crazy.
This is one of the first times I’ve ever made anything. Sure, I’ve done lots of alterations, and even experimented with dyes and bleach, but creating clothes out of (essentially) whole cloth is something I didn’t really try. It’s very intimidating for those who know what they’re doing, so for someone who just delved into this hobby without any training, it’s downright terrifying. The only times I’ve tried to make something was with my wool bowtie (which worked well) and a dress shirt (which went disastrously and ended with me ripping it apart in frustration).
This time, though, I told myself I wasn’t going to rush. The shirt fiasco happened because I tried to do it in one sitting. 8 hours later, all I had to show was a lot of frustration and shredded cotton.
This isn’t going to be a tutorial, but to briefly cover what I did, I first took the pants apart completely, unstitching every piece and ironing it flat. The worst was unstitching the logo on the back. Once I had all the pieces, I took the patterns I had from the shirt project, laid them out, and once I discovered I had enough material, cut out my pieces. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough for everything to be whole, so there’s a seam up the back of the jacket (which worked out, as I used selvedge for the inside so there’s a nice detail).
This project was different from just buying the fabric, because I knew going in that I had limited resources. What I had was what I had. I couldn’t buy more. This was a bit of a godsend, because it forced me both to go cautiously, and also explore options creatively.
I didn’t have enough material for a placket, so I skipped it. I repurposed the waistband to be the bottom of the jacket, removing the button and cutting off the excess. In true Survival of the Fittist fashion, I painted SotF over the leather patch on the back.
The biggest obstacle was that there was no way for me to recreate the stitching that is common with denim: the chainstitch. If you’ve ever tried to get denim altered, you know that normal lockstitches look slightly off and that chainstitching requires a specialized machine. Chainstitching provides a specific look and strength to the final product.
In terms of strength, I decided to just double up on the stitching. I used black thread to provide the groundwork, as it remained relatively invisible against the dark denim. Over that, I put the golden threads as mostly decorative stitching, but also the second set of threading provides additional strength.
To duplicate the parallel lines of stitches, I used a twin needle. I actually think that this detail, more than anything else, is what makes this jacket work. There’s a fine line between homemade and custom made, and using little details like perfectly parallel stitches can make your work look professional.
I’m really glad I undertook this mission. First, I don’t know how many people can say they’ve made a pair of pants into a jacket. Second, it helped boost my confidence to undertake more sewing projects that aren’t strictly alterations.
Am I here, telling you that you should follow my example? No. This was pretty crazy and I kind of just wanted to be able to say I did it. Am I saying that I’m done buying clothes, and am ready to move towards total self-sufficiency/abandoning capitalism? Also no. This was a lot of work and while I want to do another project, I also know I need time before I start again.
I’m probably not finished with the jacket yet, either. I actually ran out of contrast stitching last night, so there’s still the arm seams to finish. I’m also not terribly happy with the positioning of the pockets, and the collar is a little too stiff. But that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of what I’ve done, or that I’m not going to wear it. It only means that I’ve taken my first step towards evolving my skills. I look at this jacket for what it is: a prototype.
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