Sunday, May 1, 2016

Oversized Patchwork Jacket

A few months ago, I resized this extra-large hoodie to make it into a slimmer fitting, but still long, jacket for biking in. I left you with a complaint about the kerning that I simply had to rectify. It took me several months, but eventually I got around to covering up the offendingly spaced letters.

At first, I attempted to just scrape off the screen print. After ours of relentlessly picking at it (I stretched the fabric over my knee and then scratched with my fingernail, until both my fingers and my legs were sore), I finally had removed all of the lettering. But even after a nice hot bath in the washing machine, you could still see the ghost of Virginia Beach, so I had to think of a way to cover the words up.

I wanted to do a fun graphic, but couldn't think of a representational shape that would look good extended over the two halves of the front, so I decided to go abstract with patchwork instead. Here's how I originally sketched it, with a graduated design that would be fully covered and busy at the top, with fewer and fewer patches as you went down the front.

Then I got to work with actual fabric! I used scraps from previous projects: sleeves from the pink and green plaid shirt, an old off-white T-shirt that I've been cutting apart just for its fabric for years, the pink lining that I used briefly inside my Indonesian Princess dress (after turning it into a skirt, I am refashioning it again, and I hope you'll see the result soon!), bits of another Indonesian dress that I am still struggling with, and a couple of green scraps whose origin I no longer recall. I cut them into variously sized rectangles and then started dropping them onto the hoodie until they were arranged to my liking.

I would eventually sew them all down, but first I had to keep them in place, which I accomplished with a bit of temporary fabric glue.

Once they were all somewhat fixed in position, my next step was to remove the excess that dangled over the edges of the sweatshirt.

Then I had to sew them down permanently. This was a more challenging endeavor than I ever imagined.

I chose a contrasting white thread with brown bobbin thread to match the interior of the jacket. I started at one edge of the design, and began zigzag stitching over the edges of the patches, following a winding path and trying to sew as many edges as I could without overlapping a seam. Pretty soon, however, I was only able to sew an inch in in any given direction before I ran into an already stitched seam. So then I had to pick up my needle, reposition the fabric, and start over again in a new spot. This took forever! 

Of course it got messy. There were plenty of spots where I somehow failed to overlock the seam entirely, and other spots where the fabric frayed out from under my stitches. But lots and lots of repairs later, I was finally finished!

I wanted to follow my original design of placing a few lone patches over the bottom portion of the hoodie, but my original design had neglected to take the pockets into account. There was no way I could machine-stitch over those pockets without stitching them closed, and no way I was going to continue this labor by hand, so the finished product is a little more top-heavy than I intended, but it is nonetheless a finished product, and I consider that a victory!

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