Thursday, August 20, 2009

the story of the jeans

when i was in nyc on my shopping trip with tink, i scored a pair of lucky brand jeans at filene's basement. we were on the fourth floor. they didn't make me look fabulous, but they were comfy and had that cute, slightly slouchy 'boyfriend jean' look. they were on clearance for $20. yes, $20! there was just one problem.

the left leg looked like it had gotten caught in some machinery and had copious amounts of thick, black grease around a hole that had been torn through the leg. most of the leg had spots of grease on it. we searched and searched for another identical pair, sans grease. no luck. plus, we were going to be late for the ferry to ellis island.

in a last ditch effort, i took the prized jeans to the cashier and showed her the damage, asking if there was anything they could do about the price. 'why would you want these?' she asked, incredulously in the fashion capital of the u.s. (you see, she wasn't there for the countless pairs of jeans i had already tried on. most of which refused to budge past my thighs - even though they were 'my size'.) so i told her the truth, 'because they are sooo comfortable.' so she checked with her manager after muttering a string of horrific words that sounded like, 'he may want to damage them out.' i watched nervously as she spoke to a man. when she returned, she said the best words i had heard so far. 'he said 75% off. [beep, click, click, clack] four dollars and 98 cents.' (these words were better by far than the words, 'oh, this sweater is cashmere, so it's $60, not $40.')
back at tink's apartment, on the sage advise of my mom, we made a paste with baking soda and trader joe's lavender and tea tree oil dish washing liquid. i used my travel toothbrush to scrub and scrub at the grease. i then rolled them up and tied them tightly in a shopping bag.

at my mom's in n.c., we scrubbed some more, then soaked the pair in borax. finally washing them. the result was very pleasing. most of the grease was gone. there was just the holes to deal with.

at a craft store, again on the sage advise..., i purchased some material with the intent to put myself through what became an intricate, painful and laborious process of:

1. cutting out the portions i wanted
2. ironing on an interfacing
3. using embroidery floss to hand stitch over the outline and elements of the design, using multiple colors
4. ironing on a bonding agent
5. trimming design more intricately
6. applying a fray check around edges
7. belaboring where i will now place the fabric on my new favorite jeans
8. finally placing them and ironing them on
9. realizing that too much ironing actually kills the bonding
10. sewing around the design with strong quilting thread and shredding my fingertips in the process
11. noticing that my precious (not gollum voice) lucky brand tag was deteriorating from several washings
12. masochist that i am, deciding to hand embroider the 'l' and 'b' on the tag as it continues to disappear
13. weaving a patch through the holes and then deciding not to cover them after all

here are the pics:

super comfy, cute lucky jeans

increasingly deteriorated lucky tag

holes with grease after intense cleaning

woven-patched hole

embroidered 'l' and 'b'

flower design on fabric

flower embroidered by moi

dragon design on fabric

countless hours later, dragon complete

flower and dragon with bonding agent and fray check


flower applied

dragon applied
yes, i bought these jeans worth over $100 for $5 - 'new'. then i invested hours and hours into the cleaning and embellishing. i hope i never lose these.
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if you don't like the dragon or think i wasted my time, don't waste yours in commenting. i certainly did not share all this with you to be told that my hard work looks stupid.
don't forget, i live in podunkville where people appreciate craftiness.

8 comments:

Shannon said...

I so cannot wait to see them tomorrow night, in fact, I think you should wear them so we get the full effect. The pictures make it all look so good, and I reemphasize that the embroidering on the patches look phenomenal.

revamped*midge said...

Awesome hard work! I would buy sale jeans and then never end up wearing them for one reason or another! Great story too! :)

tinka stinka said...

i actually think they look awesome. and the free people jeans i bought ended up working out better than i thought. i wear them to work all the time, despite looking like i pulled them out of a trash bag!

cheri said...

ps: i'm in awe of all that work on the dragon. seriously.

cheri said...

and just because everyone loves comments, here's one more. right atcha.

momski said...

I am truly impressed and flabbergasted at your artwork ability and tenacity to finish the job. of course, I AM your mother and all those good traits bled from me to you. [you too kayla]

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Belinda said...

They look really awesome!! You did a fantastic job!!