Rashly, I decided to throw my hat in the ring for Refashioners 2016, so the question became “how many pairs of jeans does it take to make a jacket?”
I initially thought this would take two pairs of jeans and a skirt, and then I read the rules again and realised that the skirt wouldn’t make the cut as the remake had to be from actual jeans, rather than a denim garment. This meant that I had to completely revise my plan as I had intended to use those skirt buttons down the front of the jacket.
So that left me with the two pairs at the back of the above photo. My plan was to harvest the denim then weave it and sashiko over the top to anchor it all. I started to do this but rapidly lost the will to live. The sashiko (think tiny stitches) on denim was so hard! So that was the second part of my plan out of the window!
I had originally planned to have a woven back and plain fronts with the button band cut from the skirt, but once the skirt was off the table I decided that having just a woven back was going to look strange. Third part of the plan gone! I then needed to weave more denim and realised that the back section, which I had finished weaving, was too grey and wouldn’t match the fronts, which were out of a different, bluer, denim. I unpicked all that I had done. Let me say that again – I de-wove it, undid it, deconstructed it. I had even machine stitched every row in place, so all that had to be unpicked too. I then grabbed another pair of jeans and began stripping out the fabric
and then more jeans, and yet another pair of jeans.
In the end, five pairs of jeans were no more, they were kaput! And I had a large pile of denim strips ready to start weaving again (I didn’t photograph the pile for some reason, but it looked like this magnified by about 100)
At the end of the process I had several pairs of Daisy Duke shorts, which I won’t be wearing!
and some interesting jeans style trims
I also had a massive amount of denim threads, which I considered keeping and trying to spin or weave with. Then I got over myself!
A couple of the jeans were by Armani and I noted with interest that the seams were bound with a fine bias binding before being overlocked. Perhaps they are worth the money!
My revised plan was beginning to take shape – I was going to have woven back and fronts, plain sleeves and a knit lining. I planned to use the Pilvi jacket pattern which I’d already made from Lotta Jansdotta’s book Everyday Style as this is a pretty shapeless jacket with raglan sleeves and therefore perfect for embellishing and fiddling around with.
I made lining from a RTW Country Road skirt, although the polyester in it gave me pause. In the end I used it. I needed to cut a lining pattern to fit around the facings inside the jacket.
The weaving isn’t quite as easy as I perhaps thought. It’s tedious, every row needs to be stitched, and effort is required to keep things straight. This is the view from the wrong side. I cut some of the strips and ripped others, as I wanted to get the frayed look which is so trendy right now.
I wove a large piece for the back and two smaller pieces for the fronts. I wove the fronts in tandem so that the lines would match up and be the same colours. A good plan, but then I had some sort of brain malfunction and I cut a front from the back piece, which meant (a) more weaving, and (b) my masterful plan of matching lines wouldn’t work.
It was at this point that I began getting cold feet about this make. It didn’t look anything like jeans – no clever realignment of pockets and jeany details. I worried that my shapeless jacket was going to be really boxy and I wouldn’t ever wear it. However, I am not one to collect UFOs, so I pressed on. Literally as it happens because, as I wanted the inside to look nice, I began making bias binding from an old skirt which I never wore
I bound the seams and the joining between the facing and the lining.
I inserted pockets in the side seams, which aren’t really long enough for pockets, but I wanted them. I stitched them down from the inside so they didn’t flap around, which you can just see in the above photo, and faced them with the same fabric as the bias binding. I cut the sleeves from the two legs of one pair of jeans, with the side seam going down the centre sleeve
but I didn’t like the way the sleeves joined the weaving, so I replaced the tops of the sleeves with scraps of woven denim. I also though about woven cuffs, but they were just too bulky and strange. I am really happy with the way the tops of the sleeves link the fronts and back.
I added bronze snaps to secure the fronts together and as a bit of a nod to the origins of this denim, and even though my stripes are no longer identical I managed to match them sufficiently as to not be an obvious problem.
Basically I now have a jacket that I will wear – even though it is really heavy – and there are now five fewer pairs of jeans sitting in a box in my stash!