Ready for Battle
While I do love making garments, bags and quilts from start to finish, I rarely have the time or motivation to delve into a full project. To supplement my sewing desires, as well as my desire to have unique clothing, I frequently customize my store-bought clothes with bite-sized projects that I can sew by hand and take with me on-the-go. One of my favorite bite-sized projects is a patch jacket!
Patch jackets (also known as battle jackets) hold their place in the punk and metal scenes as a form of metaphorical body armor. A visual representation of one’s personality, they imbue confidence while also suggesting: “don’t mess with me”.
A Bad*ss History
Battle jackets – as the name might suggest – came about during World War II, when Army Air Corps pilots wore leather bomber jackets embellished with unit patches and hand-painted art. After the war, many pilots got into motorcycling, and they continued to add patches and art to their old jackets.
They are most often decorated with band patches, political statements, studs, and pins, but the possibilities are truly endless and tailorable to every personality. A patch jacket is also never truly finished. Take the former pilots for example – as their tastes grew and changed, their jackets transformed to reflect it.
I like to decorate mine one patch, pin, or stud at a time. This aspect, for me, makes the process stress-free and purely enjoyable! My battle jackets are wearable at any stage.
The other great thing about the continual embellishing process is that inspiration is allowed to strike organically. Whenever I go thrift shopping or stop by Rockin Rudy’s in Missoula, I keep an eye out for enamel pins or patches that speak to me.
At the same time, I love painting and embroidering the custom patches I make myself using our Big Sur Canvas! It’s an easy process, and it guarantees that the embellishments added to my jacket will be 100% me.
The Raw Materials
Working at The Confident Stitch, I see a lot of great fabrics, and I’ve learned how to simply decorate my jackets (and clothes in general) with my favorite ones! I lined the collar of this denim vest with a Hokkoh floral corduroy, and – as you can see – it adds color and texture to an otherwise plain black denim. Additionally, covering pockets or stitching on knee and elbow patches is another way incorporate your favorite fabrics into your wardrobe. (This simple form of decorating is also a great way to make use of leftover scraps!)
All in all, my battle jackets have become home to the many patches, pins, and scrap fabrics that I collect. Together, they make up a piece that is uniquely me.
What are some ways you have customized your pre-existing wardrobe? Tell us about it in the comments!