ReThreads: How to make your own altered jacket!



Jean Jackets pinned to an art quilt -- no other model around today! 


Here's the quickie HOW-TO for my method of artful recycling:

Purchase, swap or otherwise acquire a jean jacket or vest. I like the darker denim best, it seems to show off the frivolous fabrics well. Selecting for color and textural interest, a narrative tale of your own telling or any other criteria you like, select three to four coordinating embellishment fabrics. (Everything I use on these, except the fusible is reclaimed from thrift store and flea market finds) Some of what I use: embroidered and/or painted Indian sari cloth, Guatemalan skirt or shirt fabric, embroidery from Mexican dresses, commercial fabrics, etc., bark cloth, patchwork quilt top scraps, crocheted lace and commercial lace and trim, interesting vintage buttons, metal milagros.

Trace patterns of each part of the jacket that you wish to embellish, using tracing paper or even the release paper from fusible web (WonderUnder for example). I usually trace off the yokes, the panels above the pocket, sometimes the panels down the front, and the large back panel, cutting my patterns up to  but not over the double stitched seams. Iron fusible to the back of selected fabrics and cut out using the pattern as your guide. Iron to fuse, then machine quilt the pieces using free motion zig-zag stitch around the edges and straight stitch for embellishing textures, lines and emphasis. I usually use coordinating colored thread as my topstitch and denim colored thread on the bobbin.  

After the machine work is done, I usually spend a few hours adding hand stitching, buttons, sewing over the seams with embroidery floss or craft threads (most often while watching Project Runway or Top Chef). I add a ReThreads label, signing and dating my work, and its ready for the sales rack or runway.  

If you'd like a complete step by step design and construction 'HOW TO" course, consider signing up for my soon-to-come e-workshop including all instructions in detail -- supplies, design tips, construction tips and more. If you'll leave a comment or email me at, I'll put you on the list for the course notification.

And meanwhile, here's a book that might help


I've been a bit stalled out on the Sirena series, although there is a mammoth pile of fabric on the design table, but with theFiesta Arts Fair coming up in just a bit over a month, April 19-20, and the Fiber Artists of San Antonio art-to-wear runway show on May 3, I've got plenty of smaller projects yipping for attention. Here's the first of this year's ReThreads, my occasional interlude into altered, recycled jean jackets and other thrift store finds. I only make a few of these each year -- but they are a great way to use all the amazing fabrics I've gathered and hoarded for just such frivolity and fashion. If you'd like to make your own, keep reading, the instructions for my method are at the bottom of this post.

Meanwhile if you're within reach, the Fiesta Arts Fair is one of my favorite Fiesta San Antonio extravaganzas. I'll be setting up the market stall in the second courtyard, near the food booths in the Convent Garden and on the way to the Children's Art Garden. This family-friendly arts and crafts market features some fabulous artists, artisans and craftsmen from around the country and I'm honored to have been selected for this year's group - the jury process is one that keeps the standards high and make the mix an interesting one of locals and national artists. There's also wall-to-wall entertainment and the usual Fiesta food-on-a-stick. 

 And, meanwhile, I'm making two or three other one-of-a-kind jackets for the FASA runway show -- only 60 tickets of 370 are left, so if you haven't bought yours yet, surf over to Fiber Artists of San Antonio where you can purchase one spot or a table full (12 NOT 10 AS THE WEBSITE SAYS),  $40 per ticket. The staged and choreographed show includes a seated luncheon, and, best of all, most of the fashionable art on the runway is available for sale in a post-show sales room. We also have a silent auction (I'm looking for some donations!) and a raffle of some incredible wearable work donated by members.