A number of years ago I hand cross-stitched a design of a Chinese dragon on the back of a second-hand denim jacket for my eldest child, Nathan (soon to be 21). Since then it has been in almost constant use and is now in need of restoration rather than mending. As you can cans the cuffs are almost off and a considerable amount of the sleeves are lost.
Longevity of ownership of this garment is purely due to the earlier customisation, which took approximately 18 months. The long period was taken for regular rest periods to allow sore fingers to recover from pushing the needle through the tough denim.
To enable the restoration it was clear the cuffs first needed to be secured. I chose to re-attach using a machine rather than hand stitch due to the thick nature of the fabric and ensure a strong fix. Remnants from a previous modification were used to re-enforce and patch the worn areas. Keeping true to the visible mending ethos I deliberately chose newer looking fabric to distinguish between old. Enhancing this by allowing the frayed edges of the worn areas to remain exposed. In using these conscious design choices to continue the garment’s narrative and augment sentimental value.
When replacing the worn area of sleeve I had to ensure that the sleeve wasn’t reduced in width, which would restrict movement and hamper fit. To echo previous workings I chose complementary coloured threads and cross-stitched the patches in place, which were stabilised pins. After being stabbed several times by the securing pins in future I will tack the patched in place before sewing with the design.
Again experiencing sore fingers I explored different types of thimbles as I found the traditional fingertip thimble cumbersome hampering sewing and expriencing loss of touch. The thimble that proved most useful was the one that took the shape of a ring the shield area angled perfectly to allow for ease of use and being a ring gave finger agility and sensation.
At first I spent time securing the patch in place stitching around the worn area moving to filling in areas that aesthetically pleased. As I continued to sew shape and form grew building up stitch in varying sizes and changing colour the area appeared to take the shape of a dragon. I continued to grew and enhance the form increasing its dragon-like appearance adding frill, eyes and teeth.
This took place on the first sleeve to be restored; the second I chose to leave with less detail and use the cross-stitch as a re-enforcer for the worn and weakened fabric that remained.
When approaching projects like this give more thought to the finished result maybe sketching the area and adding stitch detail to plan rather than letting it take shape. This was fine on a personal project but as part of practice then a more professional and planned approach would be more appropriate being the sketch and stich plan will help and refined the finish and enable discussion of outcome with the client.
Sharing of the work in progress and finished item will lead to more work of this type to enable my abilities to grow improve engagement with people and clients.