Sunday, April 20, 2014

Make do and mend: Easter edition

It is Day 2 of my challenge to mend or clean 12 of my own wardrobe’s items in 12 days. It is also Easter, so I contemplated which of my mending items would look spiffy to wear on Easter Sunday.

I decided the obvious choice was a wonderful late 1930s jacket that has been out of commission for a few years. It is labeled Haddad. If the clothing I find with this label is any indication, the store was a very fashionable place to shop in Spokane. A number of older women have told me how much they loved the place.

This jacket is made of a light, spring-y black wool crepe with bright pink wool jersey lining the front edges and collar. The jacket even has a matching pink jersey dicky. It has little semi-pockets with twisted wool detail around their edges.

The problem has been the covered buttons. Made using the same light wool jersey, these had worn through to the point of being unusable.

This is where my one hoarding instinct has come in handy: I collect vintage buttons, and most especially sets of vintage buttons. Many button collectors are after a single perfect vintage button, but my eyes are always open for a set that can replace those that are missing on my vintage clothing finds.

My white button stash
In my black button stash I have a couple of great old buttons in plastic and four faceted black glass buttons. I need five for my jacket. I have cards of vintage buttons in black but these just don’t seem sufficiently interesting for this stellar jacket.

I eventually came across this set, probably of roughly the same era as the jacket. I would prefer a button with a shank, but I love the beaded-look detail.

If I’ve learned anything from mending my vintage clothing finds, it is to try to imitate what is already there. These buttons were sewn with substantial thread shanks, and without any of their sewing thread showing on the back of the placket, because that pink lining was made to show and you wouldn’t want black threads interfering.

I used to think that sewing a button was just a matter of running six stitches through the button, but had to rethink my button sewing technique when I saw how many vintage buttons were sewn with thread shanks.

There is an easy and clear tutorial about sewing a button the right way, with a thread shank, over on the Chronicle Books blog.

Just one case of gnarled-up thread and one needle poke later, I had myself a newly restored jacket. See how nicely these buttons complement the pocket detail?

 And it’s ready just in time for my Easter promenade...Happy Easter everyone!

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