Jean Therapy

After nearly 10 years of experimental research, I’ve made the holey grail of discoveries: slowing the rate of those rapidly aging jeans!

My embryonic secret was out the day I contacted Leslie. In addition to being a multi-talented laboratory technician, she was also known for her creative moonlighting habits in the sewing department. Three days and two retrofitted pairs of black, work slacks later and I was set to see out my last eight weeks of deception in comfort. As it turned out, I needn’t have bothered. My shrewd colleagues were quick to note my sudden passion for lurching my students into the age of independent learning as the rapidly developing, in-vivo K1 saw fit to see me chained to the school house lavatory.

Raising a family on a single post doc salary in a foreign country has it’s psychological blessings. Rotting food is a meal half full and used-by-dates equal guidelines only. Heating in -30oC temperatures gains luxury status. And ripped clothes and rags mature into fabric dividends. Not wanting to let an out-of-work, pre-baby 6 months go to landfill, I quickly put my lime-green, retro Brother to stitching work, whipping up nappies, rompers, sleep suits and other such baby DNA (Definitely Non-negotiable Attire).

By age two, K1 had begun to express characteristics of his mothers phenotype: a predisposition to premature, tear-lomeric degradation of jeanetic material. Invoking the creative powers of Leslie times past, I began to tinker with excising junk cloth and splicing this elemental textile with other durable equivalents.

The results…

Well depending on how I choose to translate the repaired jeanotype, I either go punk- rocker style (above left) and patch behind the hole or over the top for the confident, D.I.Y. suave finish (above right).

Of course, by the end of the winter season, my very active little mutants have outrun the sewing room’s rate of repair such that only one course of action remains to keep the jean-dream alive: amputation.

OK…so it might not be a Nobel Prize winning revelation or worthy of a spread in hard Times magazine…but atleast my kids are now decked out for a Hot-Pants summer of poolside commutes or broiling sessions in the mud pie kitchen.

The details for Patching those Britches and Making Denim (and other) Hot Pants has been spliced below:

Patching those Britches

  1. Using sewers measuring tape, measure the length of fabric patch that you will need to cover the hole (I always add an extra inch or so above and below and half an inch either side).

  2. Using scrap paper, make a patch template equal to the width and length measured. Truncate the corners by rounding them out for a smoother finish.
  1. Using a similar (or contrasting) colour fabric of durable strength (I always use denim, corduroy or any other type of heavy cotton), cut out two patches for each leg of the pants (a double thickness patch seems to see the pants through to the end of the season).
  1. Using a quick unpick tool, unpick one side of the pants starting from atleast one inch above where you wish the patch to sit and end atleast one inch below (I always go for the side with the least stitching). Ensure you remove all the thread scraps lest they get stuck in the machine when sewing.

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  1. Pin the patches over the hole (or underneath if you prefer) ensuring that you do not accidentally pin through to the back of the jeans. Using a basting stitch (the largest stitch width) sew (about 1 inch from the edge of the patch) the patch in place, removing the pins as you go.

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  1. Using zig-zag (or decorative stitch if you prefer) stitch, slowly sew (on a wide width and low stitch length setting) around the edge of the patch ensuring that you do not catch the back of the jeans as you sew. Repeat for the second patch. If choosing to go underneath the hole (for the punk rocker look) then also sew around the hole so that the fabric sits tighter onto the patch (and is less likely to get snagged on obstacles during play).
  2. Unpick the basting stitch. Sew up the side seam and zig-zag stitch the raw edges to finish.

    Whack them back on your little mutant for their next bout of textile testing play!

Making Denim (and other) Hot Pants

  1. Place the jeans onto your child and mark on the outside of a leg seam (using a washable sewing pen), where your child wishes for the shorts to finish. Add an extra 3 cm to this length. Repeat with the opposite leg. Sever the jeans ensuring that your cutting line is approximately parallel with the seam at the ankle.

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  1. Turn the (now) shorts inside out. Turn over 1 cm of the raw edge. Press. Turn over another 1 cm. Press and pin in place. Repeat for the opposite leg.

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  1. Sewing as close as possible to the outside seam, sew around the leg hole ensuring that you stretch the fabric as you go so as to avoid the seam being too tight around the leg. Sew a second seam ¼ inch from the first. Repeat with the opposite leg.

    Eureka! Some Hot-pants for those sweltering summer days.

A Frocking Good Summer Wardrobe

The best things in life are free. The second best things are very expensive” – Coco Chanel

I’m a gal with expensive tastes…which is why so much of our families budget goes toward filling our fridge. As I also love to look frocking fabulous, I’ve learned to hitch the hemlines on fast fashion so as to acquire the second best things in life, retro-spectacularly, for free.

As a young girl at home on the farm, summer always began bagly: raiding the top cupboard of my mothers wardrobe for my female cousins’ last season loot. Hours were passed riffling through high-waisted hot pants, mid-drift tops, shoulder-padded blouses, puffed-sleeved leotards, button-down shirt dresses, mini skirts and all manner of fluorescent dangly earrings…until my mother was able to locate an item “suitably appropriate for young ladies” to wear to our glorifying morning mass sessions on Sundays. Since technically I wasn’t disobeying any of the ten commandments, I didn’t feel it necessary to disclose the secret stash of overlooked ensembles I carried in my backpack for those after school playdates with the townies.

These days I am little more overt about my In Style acquisitions of wardrobe attire. Whilst happy to doll out the dosh on the occasional top quality, Australian made garment, my closet maintains a healthy position of financial equilibrium by, mostly, secondhand means. Op-shops, Clothing Fairs, Handmade Jobbies and Textile Tip Bins all rate highly on my Vintage Vogue salvage list. But, like many of my like minded lady friends who revel in the art of procuring their FCUK, D’Jones outfits unnew, the Clothing Swap Soiree is the clear headliner: Fashion Trafficking Redressed.

Straight off the rack, I’ve never organised one of these events myself. I leave that to our ethical fashionistas, Ami and Hils, who rotate hosting duties at the end of each season. Having now attended a number of these Frankiely fabulous events, I would however, like to spread the organisational word to all those keen to Russh into their girlfriends’ garters…sorry…let’s keep it above belt…their female friends’ raiment:

  • Fashion some gossip: start spreading the word early (3 – 4 weeks) via whatever means (email, texts, hand written invitations, social media) is most likely to capture your audiences’ attention. This gives people plenty of time for spring cleaning…and seaming if need be.
  • Cut on the bias: tell your crowd to leave their Vanity afFair at home. No really, anything goes (dresses, shorts, T-shirts, intimates, jewelry) provided it’s good quality. Seasonal garb is more likely to be shifted quickly from the hangers but you never know when someone is looking to get out of the big freeze in the winter or vice versa in the summer and, hence, in need of some out-of-season duds.
  • Make it A-line: c’mon ladies…how often do you get a chance to go on a shopping spree with just your wonderful gaggle of glamorous gals? With enough advance notice most can tee up a hubby, friend or generous neighbour to take up sprog duties for a couple of bubbly hours of Adult (female) only fun.
  • Embrace the elastic waistband: no social gathering is ever complete without some good quality tucker…and some bubbly. Since you’re hosting, pawn this duty off to your guests.

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  • Encourage adhoc embellishments: be creative with your garment display. Couches, backs of chairs, tables, camping drying lines, broom sticks wedged between book shelves and even clothing stands made from gum tree branches can be good possies for your wares. Don’t forget to clear a few rooms (preferably with full length mirrors) for fittings and to ask your guests to bring hangers.

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  • Start a fashion parade: OK. I’ve never actually seen this done but I’ve always thought it would be a good idea. If catwalk culture isn’t your thing, then encouraging your guests to go home wearing just a little something from their afternoon takings, can be a discreet way of saying thanks to the donor. An open mike – “infamous item anecdote” – session has also proven to be a great way to get the afternoon off to a screamer of a start.
  • Install an invisible zip: when the hubby (and kids) comes home, it’s time for your guests to perform a disappearing act. Since you’d probably like to do it again some time, you are much more likely to see a favourable prenuptial agreement if you keep it short and sweet (2 hours…max).
  • Punt on a Phili: now that you are kitted out for a day at the races (work, beach etc.), it’s time to say a big Grazia to a nominated charity or other philanthropic organisation. Think hard about this before advertising. Whilst well intentioned, dumping a large amount of unswapped items at your nearest charity shop is likely to overwhelm and overburden: most goods will ultimately end up in landfill. Local homeless shelters, Women’s Refuges and clothing recycling depots can all be good places to get you off to a Googling start.

After a Bazaar couple of hours of fun at my recent Spring Clothing Swap Soiree, it was time to call it a Woman’s Day. Free from the mental post-purchase – “How am I going to tell Scott about this one?” – persecution, I wobbled my way home on two wheels, backpack loaded with booty. The spoils: a summer shift dress for riverside lounging and a ravishing little number for the next Dine-In Date Night.

Shhh…don’t tell…it’s a Victoria’s Secret!