Awhile ago, White Oak Cone Denim gave me a small book about an historic collection of denim clothing found in an abandoned shack near Greensboro, North Carolina. The images and information that denim historians have gathered about this clothing helped me to understand from another angle, and more deeply, an era of American history. The clothing, dating from the 1930s, tell the story of a family, living in poverty, working as tobacco sharecroppers. The clothing has been beautifully repaired and mended, by one person. Overalls have been cut into pants, newer denim has patched old, worn holes and resourceful combinations of patches and hand stitching have created an unintentional but beautiful, folkloric patchwork. Above is a scan of a pair of children's overalls. I have seen actual samples, and they are powerful, for the life that they document and also the thoughts and images they bring to mind of this homemaker, who worked to maintain the family's clothing with respect and durability.
As some of you may already know, I am writing a series of articles on mending, repairing and patching jeans with designer style. Fashion is driven by many different events or ideas, and when something is compelling, like this collection of denim clothing, it bound to have a strong influence.
The technique that I have written up for this particular post is inspired by this collection of historic clothing. With respect to this nameless family, I have tried to capture their spirit of resourcefulness and craft, and named the technique "Sharecroppers" patches.
Above is a photo of my final jeans. Patches are put where the denim was totally worn and ripped and where it needed to be re-enforced. Stitches, thread and denim scraps were chosen for how natural, practical or beautiful they looked.
Part of the goal was to make the inside as beautiful as the outside. This would make the jeans more durable, preventing the necessity of repeated repairs. Below is a photo of the finished inside of one of the legs.
For the entire tutorial on the "Sharecroppers patches" click here.