Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Monday, 13 October 2014

Tiny Dancer: The Story of a Repurposed Jean Jacket

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the bands 
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man. 
Ballerina, you must have seen her, dancing in the stands. (Bernie Taupin/Elton John)
I've been on the hunt for a jean jacket lately.  Call it nostalgia, call it practical, but for months, I've had an urge to find a well-worn, broken in, comfy indigo dyed jacket, just like the ones I wore through my teens and twenties.  Those jackets are long gone now, worn to threads, cut to shreds, one of them chopped to pieces for recycled paper.  Jean jackets are back in style, but they come with a stylish price tag, too, and they're not nearly as durable as the ones I used to wear.

Two weeks ago, when my sister heard of my request, she offered me her old jean jacket. Although she was wearing it at the time, she said this was a rare event and that she was happy to find it a new home. I was happy, too, because I had a plan for that jacket, a plan which involved combining recycling and finding a home for my growing pile of tapestry samples.

I have tapestry swatches and diaries all over my fibre room.  They're stashed away in closets, rolled up on shelves and hanging from empty looms.  Most of them are small, records of certain times or places, memories of practices I wished to explore.  I have exactly one tapestry mounted on the wall of my room and I have been feeling increasingly guilty about the rest of the pieces which seldom see the light of day.  It occurred to me that, if I didn't care to frame tapestries, perhaps I could find another purpose for them.  That's where the jean jacket came into play.  I've mounted earlier tapestries on bags; denim in particular seems to suit the colours and fabrics I weave.  If I stitched some of my work to a jacket, I could cover quite a bit of territory at once: my work would be displayed; I'd have a customized piece of clothing and I could salvage something that was destined for the bin.

So, here she is, my reused, rejuvenated jean jacket, courtesy of my sister and some old (one really old) woven samples.  Both the panel and the band are woven in wool.  The Lotus panel, woven this spring, is hand spun, hand dyed wool on a wool singles warp.  The band, my first Winter Count diary, which looks as if it was planned for the edge but which was actually woven over a decade ago,  is commercial 2 ply wool woven on a linen warp. They're sewn to the jacket with commercial cotton thread.  I pinned the pieces, making sure they were flat, then I stitched them using large overhand stitches which will not pass a seamstress's critical eye, but which will make the weaving easy to remove when the jacket needs cleaning.  It will need cleaning, because I intend to wear it, regularly and often. I may add more samples as they are woven or as I rediscover them in my house.

If you're like me and unmotivated to frame and display your tapestry weaving, but would like to show off your work from time to time, this could be the way to go.  Wash the jacket, be sure the tapestry pieces are clean, then patch the tapestry on to the jacket and away you go.  It's rather fun.

I am very grateful to my sister, Annamarie, for the gift of this jacket. When she saw her old jacket yesterday, she told me she'd like it back.  I told it that it would be in my will. I mean it. Right now, I've made it mine.

Photographs courtesy of my niece, Kasha.



  1. I love it! No wonder Annamarie wants it back!


  2. Very inspiring! I bought a white jean jacket from the sale rack and plan to customize it with swatches and pieces of knitting and weaving. We'll have to compare our projects at Olds next June.