Bell bottom blues

I was the last kid in my high school to get bell bottoms because my mom, thinking that the “fad would never last,” refused to buy something that she was sure I wouldn’t wear for more than a month.

When she finally relented and let me get a pair, they were too short and definitely not Levis. It ruined me for life. Once I got a job and my driver’s license, I bought my own jeans: long and Levi’s. To this day, my jeans have to be dragging-the-ground long and yes, they’ve got to be Levis.

I present to you Exhibit A, from my high school yearbook …

and Exhibit B, from last week …

So yeah, some things never change. Fortunately, my mending skills have improved somewhat (along with my taste in shoes and socks). For instance, I did try stitching a pair of jeans a few years back …

But this time I wanted to try a patchplay solution. So I sacrificed a much-loved-but-no-longer-worn denim dress, first cutting off pieces of the hem …

and then attaching them to the trimmed back edges of my jeans. This patch was attached with Jude Hill’s glue stitch (seen here on the “other side”) …

and this one was attached with running stitch (also a b-side view) …

I bound the raw edges on the inside with blanket stitch, but for the outside I used Jude Hill’s wrap stitch and two strands of Deb Lacativa’s magic thread

To good effect methinks …

Now I just need to tackle the Levis that I bought at a Wimberley thrift store for two-bucks-a-pop and wore to shreds …

It’s a good thing that old dress has a lot of bound edges!

39 thoughts on “Bell bottom blues

  1. I usually designate one item of clothing as the “donor” and then go about using it for years and years to make repairs. Your dress is just such a donor. I never give up on a beloved item of clothing. My one sweater is more patch than original but I won’t give it up. I don’t give up on people either but wish I could patch them up.

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    1. You’d think I would have known better, but I refused to buy new jeans for my younger daughter, sure that she would soon outgrow her Size 0 pair … for three long years!

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  2. “Forever in Blue Jeans…”
    Nothing like a well worn pair. Like comfort food for the body.
    Blessings to you Dear Friend

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  3. Ah, jeans. Yep wore ’em dragging on the ground, with moccasins 🙂 I still have a pair of Faded Glory jeans, patched & shredded too. I can’t part with them, because I loved them so! They need a good home, I’ll never be that tiny again! Your patch job is beautiful! And I rather like your HS socks. We have a dad at work that wears the best socks (they have to take their shoes of or put on booties). It got to be a running joke, which socks he’d have on! Anyway, I digress…jeans are the best and all I like to wear. They even describe my favorite type of weather: blue jeans and t-shirt! Be well.

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    1. I loved casual Fridays when staff could wear jeans to school … one of the downsides of Texas is that it’s simply too hot to wear jeans for half the year (the running joke in our house is that summer lasts six months, so the other seasons only get two months each)

      and how cool that your cords ended up on Orlo’s stocking … may those Faded Glory jeans find a new purpose in life someday

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  4. Ha! Beautiful repair work, Liz. Looks as though you have a few to go! Nowadays the youngies are into deliberately, ‘expertly’ torn areas around the knees of their jeans, aren’t they? I wonder if they will ever feel the need to repair those?

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  5. Beautiful patches, Liz. I laughed out loud about your life being ruined by your mother’s refusal to buy the proper “in” jeans. I remember similar arguments with my mom over similar essential issues. That adolescent need to break away and to fit in at the same time is overwhelming. It can’t be overcome with logical practicalities.

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    1. logic? not a speck to be found when it comes to clothes shopping with teenagers!

      and now I’m recalling midriff tops with hiphuggers … oh boy oh boy

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  6. Ha! My dragging jeans were paired with earth shoes in high school. Levi’s never looked good on me tho so I wore something else. Lee’s maybe? Very nice patchwork! We’ve had moths this past year and I’m heart broken at the state of a few sweaters. But I’m learning needle felting so maybe there’s a way to patch some holes.

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    1. I was still wearing 505s in my 40s … my daughters did not approve 😉

      and Earth shoes … another indulgence denied by my thrifty mom

      maybe you could do some visible mending on your sweaters …

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  7. what a great patching idea Liz! such a good result, highly satisfying I imagine. and oh boy do I remember the shopping trials I had with my mom

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    1. I laugh … the new hems don’t slip silently over our tile floors the way the shredded edges did … they make a scuffling sound … I wonder how long it will be before I am mending them again

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  8. Only have two pairs of jeans unless black jeans count then I have four. My most favorite pair, boot cut, hem threads hanging all over the place were purchased when we lived in Texas, way back in 2005. The others, newer, have held up well but there is something about those dancing threads on my favorite old pair that I love…not too good at mending so the threads will continue.

    AND don’t get me started on teenage girls and their clothes: We moved to the bay area when our twins were 14 and ready to go to a new high school. We gave them a clothing allowance and suggested that they spend wisely since there would be not more $ forthcoming that year for clothes. This was the era of punks and goths and those girls of ours took 3/4 of their combined clothing allowance, $300, and bought one black skirt !!! The skirt was long but the hemline was what I call slanted, an irregular hemline…as a result of this purchase, they only had enought left to get a few tops. They had begged me to go with them to a boutique in San Francisco that sold Comme Des Garcon clothing by the designer Rei Kawakubo. All I saw when we entered the place was rows and rows of black clothing so I told them I would wait outside. A little later they happily came out with just one bag and told me what they had purchased…I just about had a heart attack and reminded them that there would be no more clothing $ that year. When I told my husband,we both had visions of fighting and yelling over who would wear the skirt…instead our girls set up a skirt schedule, stuck to it,and wore the skirt all through high school and college. I’m not sure if they still have it but I hope they do because I can just see our 11 year old granddaughter wearing it one day. She has just been given a clothing allowance and yup, you guessed it, bought black leggings and several black sweaters…must be a rite of passage!

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    1. Don’t laugh, but six pairs were purchased in one day at the thrift store (aka op shop) … obviously someone who was just my size had just donated a lot of jeans and I arrived on a day when they were priced at $2 each … I couldn’t resist

      Mending slowly has turned out to be a very welcome form of meditation … just the right amount of thought required and a project that can be completed in a day or two … it’s nice to know I have a ready supply for those times when inspiration eludes me

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  9. wow, these jeans look awesome and the blanket stitch is really nice. They seem very comfortable to wear. And yes, old habits….. I have the same with the colour black. My Mum has always thought that after puberty my love for black would disappear, but… A

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    1. I hope you read Marti’s comment … and in a weird twist, my 1990s professional attire was mostly black and grey so I didn’t have to think too hard about putting things together … ha!

      And seriously, I love how black shows up in your art!

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  10. This post makes me long to get back into denim. Back in the day, no brand off the rack worked for this grand ass and relatively small waist until I figured out how to take darts in the waist that dived into the hip pockets which I then relocated. 501s or Wranglers were favs.

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    1. I am lucky to have had an off-the-rack body … although I do recall doing a lot of prom gown alterations for my daughters back in the day (20 years ago … how did that happen?!)

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  11. Such great mending, better than when they were new, I’m sure!
    Many bell-bottomed memories… and the awful 8th grade year when I grew six inches and fell down a lot. Mom refused to spend money on new pants until I stopped growing- so ripped knees were patched & hems had embarrassing rick-rack and the like attached to lengthen them…mortifying! I’d love to have them now.

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    1. 8th grade … my legs grew so fast I ended up with stretch marks over my hips (and no, I didn’t get anymore when I was pregnant … go figure)

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  12. Oh this is awesome! Denim/jeans has actually been on my mind. I just finished a jumper rather than making jeans which was my goal for the year. Going to revisit all that in January I think. As for my story… most of my childhood clothes came from Sears or were hand made growing up. By seventh grade I desperately wanted jeans like everyone else. Mom said too expensive. So I started babysitting for $1.00 an hour until I had enough to buy the jeans I wanted. I really loved those jeans.

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    1. $1 an hour babysitting … oh boy do I remember those days! And in a wonderful bit of serendipity, I reconnected with one of my former charges who was 6 years old when I first started sitting for him and his two younger brothers. He’s now a cardiologist in his mid-50s with grown kids. Time flies.

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