I’m as big a fan of minimalism as the next girl, but there’s a limit. Sometimes plain is boring, and more is more. That’s how I feel when it comes to denim jackets, and mine was looking like a piece of dry toast begging to be made into a delicious sandwich. Luckily, I had some choice jacket additions hanging around, so I took on the project in the spirit of “measure once, cut twice.”
For my jacket-improvement accessories, I chose a sweatshirt with a giant pug face on it that doesn’t get a lot of wear due to an awkward fit. I also had two Bedazzlers that hadn’t yet bedazzled a thing. With all the necessary tools, I took the plunge, and I suggest you do the same.
Here are the steps to making your clothing a piece of wearable art that people will stare at on the street. Are they thinking it looks great? One hundred percent of the time, yes. Okay, here we go.
1. Wash the sweater, because the last time you wore it, you spilled pasta on the pug’s face. The jacket is a little musty too, so may as well throw that in the wash with it.
2. Measure the area on the denim jacket where the back patch will go.
3. Feel extremely nervous as you cut your awesome pug sweater apart. Cut an excessively huge square out around the pug in case you need extra fabric. Tell yourself this is for a seam allowance.
4. Dig your two Bedazzlers out of the closet and wonder how they work. Why do they have so many pieces? Now is not the time to give up. Smooth out the ancient instructions. One paper is a mail-in order form to send away for more rhinestones from Rockaway Beach, New York.
5. Take a quick break, overwhelmed by the complexity of the machines.
6. Skim the instructions, which are text-heavy and stress the importance of reading them fully.
7. Spend 10 minutes trying to get a tiny stud into a plastic “stud setter.” Curse the world. Society must have developed a better way to get studs onto things by now. Realize that you were using the wrong size of stud setter and that the other Bedazzler has a specialized mechanism to do it. It takes about one second to load studs.
8. Practice studding some scrap fabric. It’s so easy and wonderful! How did you ever think this would be hard? Apologize to the Bedazzler gods.
9. Choose your approximate design (mine was a pug crying rhinestone tears à la Johnny Depp in Crybaby). How many rhinestones is too many? It’s hard to say. Bedazzle rhinestones and studs in place. Admire your work.
10. Worry about difficulty of attaching patch to jacket; abandon project for two weeks.
11. Get pumped up looking at pictures online of back patches other people have successfully attached. If they can do it, you can do it. Come back to jacket. Listen to some jammy jacket-sewing music. Steel your nerves.
12. Choose a thread colour. You could pick one that matches your patch so the seams are invisible, or you could do a cool contrasting colour. Or do neither: my patch was grey, and I chose a kind of taupe thread that sort of matched.
13. Begin hemming the raw edges of your patch. At this point you might turn it over and think it looks a little homemade. But you’re a raconteur and an outlaw and so you do not care about things like wobbly seams! You just live your life! DIY or die! Keep hemming.
14. If you want to add any embroidery like mine, learn from the master, Martha Stewart. I just drew what I wanted on a piece of paper, pinned it to the fabric, and used Martha’s backstitch and French knot instructions, sewing through the paper.
15. Pin your patch onto the jacket, and try it on. From there, you’ll get an idea of what it will look like, and can adjust the placement to wherever you want.
16. Sew your finished square (or maybe trapezoid, no judgement) patch onto the back of your jacket. You can sew it by hand, or use a machine if you have a heavy-duty needle to use on denim.
17. Add more! Always add more! I put some pins on the front for good measure, because a dozen rhinestones on the back didn’t feel like enough. Trust your instincts.
You’re done! You totally finished what you started! I’m proud of you. Plus, I bet your jacket looks great. The only thing left to do is start a bike gang. Mine will be called the Diamond Pugs, and we will bike around pretty slowly and stop often to eat snacks. Now accepting applications.
text, illustration, and photography // Averill Smith