Customization of blue jeans and jackets started after WW2 at the end of the 1940s, and 1950s when served soldiers were back home and used their denim jackets to express themselves. This rolled out to the first motorcycle clubs. Later in the 1960s and 1970s, during the Flower Power period, Hippies used their denim styles also to express themselves. With just simple thread, paints, bleach, or patches they created a unique piece, something that stands out from the rest.
Nowadays customization is still a hot topic, and still easy to do yourself. It's the perfect way to give an old forgotten piece a second life again instead of throwing it away. You can pick an old pair of jeans or jacket in your closet and twist it so it will be your most beloved item again. The do-it-yourself (DIY) is back again, but some people simply don’t know how and where to start, so we help you out by giving a few simple examples which you can do yourself. It’s the perfect activity during Winter evenings!
We’re happy to share some of our personal favorite DIY’s here below. Enjoy as creativity is endless, and you will always be surprised by the outcome. Love your renewed customized item!
Embroideries on jeans and jackets can be done by hand with the so-called chain stitch embroidery machines. These machines are operated freehand by turning a crank handle so the operator writes stitched lines on the fabric. Each embroidery is one of a kind with a great handcrafted vintage look.
But, of course, you can also embroider with a regular machine, or even by hand. You can add your name, initials, or create a piece of art to make your jeans or jacket the coolest of all.
One of the easiest ways to give an old piece a new look is using paint. With paint, you can use slogans, or symbols to express yourself. The best way is to use paint that is machine resistant, this is special paint useable for clothing. You can also paint only the buttons which gives a special touch.
The cool thing about paint is that over time it will fade together with the denim fabric which makes it even nicer as it will blend more in each other.
Sashiko stitching is an authentic stitching method from Japan. It was used to decorate and to repair old Kimono’s for example from farmers and fishermen. Sashiko is done by hand, it means little step, so it's very time-consuming, but also works very meditative for people.
You can make a lot of different patterns, also with meaning, but you can also do whatever you like.
Patches / Badges
You can find in thrift stores a lot of 1980s denim jackets that are patched with band patches, but also with the classic yellow smiley’s. They’re a good example of how you can show personal preferences when it comes to music, and make a true musical statement.
But, of course, you can add patches from whatever you like, and there’s no limit. So, creating an all-over pattern with patches is something that will make your old jacket look better than before. And, nowadays most patches are iron-able, so easy to add compared to the sewn-on version from back in the day.
In the 1970s and 1980s, people used also bleach to give your denim style more character. This was before all the outspoken and special denim finishes were available in stores. The only thing you need is bleach what most people have in the house. You only need to be careful that you don’t use it too much as it will make the denim fabric weak, so use it wisely and only on a few spots.