Before going on a recent holiday, I sat down and had a proper look at my zebra shorts. These might actually be my favourite garment that I have made. Buying shorts ready-to-wear is a complete nightmare. It’s almost impossible to get anything in between booty shorts and knee-length. I have a couple of pairs of short shorts and I really don’t feel comfortable in them. My zebra shorts are perfect for me; short but with absolutely no risk of my arse being unexpectedly exposed.
Because I love these shorts so much, I have worn them loads over the past eighteen months. I wear my clothes HARD and they have stood up remarkably well.
Since I made them from a fabric that is not really fit for purpose, they are starting to show signs of wear. The fabric is fading, which doesn’t really bother me. But something weird was going on with the turned-up hems. Since I didn’t really have time to repair the shorts before I left, I just re-pressed the hems as best I could and made a note to work on them upon my return.
The first thing I did was take out the little stitches tacking down the turn-ups and then put them in the wash. I pressed the shorts and you can really see how the fabric has worn in different areas.
I added some fusible interfacing to try and reinforce the turn-ups. I think the cotton wasn’t really strong enough to hold them so hopefully they will stay looking tidy for a bit longer now.
I simply cut 2″ strips (enough to cover the whole turn-up and then some) and ironed on. I had a few weights of iron-on interfacing in my stash and went for the heaviest woven one.
It probably would have been better to unpick the side seams before adding the interfacing but I was constrained by time for this mend.
Although I did it by hand before, I made the hem on my machine this time. Since the shorts have turn-ups, it will be hidden anyway. I also have a funny feeling that the tiny hand stitches were causing more wear in this high-stress area of the shorts, where the hem had come loose on the backs of both legs. My mum taught me that when making an invisible hem you should try to catch only one thread of the fabric with each stitch. This looks great but can create pulls in the fabric over time.
I have come to realise that I loathe a bar as a trouser closure. I think people use it because it is considered neater than a button. Because I have narrow hips, I need my waistband to be tight to prevent my trousers from falling down, which means it is easy for the bar to come out or make a hole in the facing fabric. On my Cigarette Pants that are actually pants and not shorts, I have already had to patch the waistband and add a buttonhole because the bar destroyed the delicate facing fabric.
An easy repair was replacing the bar with a button. If I had had time, I would have gone out and bought a shiny new button but I just used one I already had in the house.
All in all, these repairs took around 2-3 hours.
Because of the inappropriate fabric choice, I am not sure how long of a lifespan these shorts will have. These repairs should at least keep them in rotation for another summer. I find myself keeping an eye out for some snazzy denim for a second iteration. I do have some denim in my stash left over from my denim day dress. I know I should really use this up rather than buying new fabric. I have plenty of patches I could use to jazz the shorts up. Or- heaven forfend- I could have something plain in my wardrobe.
I hope people don’t find these mend posts boring. I am partly writing them because I want to view mending as a creative process in the same way as making. I’m still trying to create a smallish wardrobe of thoughtfully made items rather than ending up with the handmade equivalent of fast fashion. And perhaps someone else has some tatty shorts out there and might get some ideas on how to spruce them up.
One of my favourite purchases from Wilderness was this vintage jacket. I had been very tempted by a mass-produced capelet covered in holographic sequins. Relatively cheap at £25 or so, they were extremely popular at the festival. I held off, aware that such an item would only be useful for fancy dress and very much against my pledge to buy more mindfully this year. When browsing other stalls, I spotted this beaded jacket in one of the vintage tents.
Although it’s not my usual style at all, it really caught my eye. I tried it on and it fit perfectly. It had a lovely drape and weight to it. Another tempting factor was this.
The jacket has no labels in it and I have absolutely no clue about how much vintage beaded items normally cost. Still, the fact that it was reduced piqued the interest of my inner miser. The label also indicated that the jacket had been sent by Goldsmith Vintage (which funnily enough is quite near my work). The little shops around the Portobello area normally have good-quality items.
Anyway, I couldn’t resist and bought the jacket. Out in the Oxfordshire countryside the evenings were much cooler than they have been during the heatwave in London. I wore the jacket every night and it was surprisingly warm.
On my return to London, I had a bit more time to inspect the jacket properly. Being a maker helps one to appreciate fantastic workmanship (or, more likely, workwomanship). The jacket really is exquisitely made and finished. I’m sure the beading must have been done by hand, which would have been an incredible amount of labour. There were quite a few broken threads and I have a feeling that I lost some beads over the course of the weekend.
I looked up a few articles on repairing vintage beading. I couldn’t find much, though this blog post was quite helpful. Since I don’t have any beading stuff, I decided that I would just do what I could to prevent any more beads from getting lost. I inspected the jacket for broken threads. When I found them, I treated them like ends that need to be woven in on a piece of knitting. I knotted the threads underneath sequins and then hid the ends between the jacket and lining.
Of course, I don’t really know if this was exactly the right thing to do but I hope my instinct will help to keep this jacket wearable for a bit longer.
It was a learning process to figure out how to remove the threads without losing more beads, so I had a few sparkly casualties. I’m going to hang onto these beads and sequins since I might try and fill in some of the bare areas at a later time. Reading the article I linked really did get me interested in vintage beading and it might be something I start looking out for when I’m in secondhand shops.
I just love the subtle beading on the back. It reminds me of the night sky.
I spend a good few hours working on the jacket and it’s interesting to have a ‘project’ where the end is almost indistinguishable from the beginning. If it can give this beautiful item a good second life with me, I will consider the time very well-spent indeed.
After all the effort that went into finishing my Macaron, I nearly destroyed the dress on its second outing. I was climbing over a fence to get out of a park and decided to show off by jumping down. I managed to catch the skirt on one of the spikes, popping most of the side seam (which looked great for the rest of the evening) and also tearing the fabric.
After deciding not to chuck the dress in the bin, I thought that a patch was the best solution. It wouldn’t interrupt the floral pattern and it would also serve as a permanent memorial to my ongoing foolishness.
I bought a few patches in India that I thought might do the job. However, when searching through my craft stash for something else, I found a patch that I bought from Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes. The colour palette complements my Macaron pretty well, and it was just big enough to cover the tear.
I started by loosely stitching up the rip.
I used my embroidery hoop because my aim was to make sure the fabric was hanging true before patching.
The fact that I had an iron-on patch made my job nice and easy. I could perfectly position the patch before securing with stitches.
I used the embroidery hoop again because the fabric is so light.
I didn’t do anything fancier than some small running stitches hidden in the white border. The patch is only just bigger than the hole in the fabric but I hope the glue will hold the fibres together. Also, the back of the skirt isn’t a high-stress area on the dress (unless you are doing questionable activities while wearing it.)
Overall, I found it surprisingly enjoyable to mend my dress. Even though I’m not totally in love with it, I think Macaron is a great pattern that looks really nice on, and I always get nice compliments when I wear it.
(Sorry not sorry for the cheesy pic)