My embroidered jacket, Camden St. Requiem

This is the story about an embroidered jacket and a project that took so long that I changed both concept and name half way. A customized denim piece with hand embroidered motifs, a painted element and vintage lace; my little treasure. The best way to start talking fabrics again after this long hiatus.

Another lockdown story

Like almost everything recently in my life, this story starts during the first Lockdown. I can be more precise: it starts during the last days of April 2020, when I felt I was wasting my lockdown time being absolutely unproductive. Later I realized I was just surviving but then, I wanted to “do things”. We all had to be productive, that’s what the world was saying.
But that is a different story.

Embroidery motifs ready.

Searching for courses, I ended on Domestika. In case you don’t know it, Domestika is a website with online courses focused mostly in creative skills and every thing related to art and design. After a few days browsing, I ended creating my own package with a few courses and promising to myself I’d finish at least one before the end of the lockdown.

I was so naïve.
I though I would have the time.
I though I would have the energy.
The truth is I had none.

Few days later, I got a call from my day job. They were saying we would start going back to the building gradually. So, in the next few weeks, everything changed. I moved to a different area in London, I went back to work in retail with no customers around but a lot of stress and sadness as we were… together apart. And I started feeling even worse about everything.

The magic was banishing.

Next months were just madness. My creativity was gone. I had little energy for doing anything else than going to work and coming back home just to watch Netflix whilst eating biscuits. Out of my Camden life and stuck in that post-pre-post-lockdown routine for months I decided to focus in just one of the courses.
So, I started with “Fashion Design: Painting and Embroidery Garments” as it seemed to me the easiest.

Colour palette for the Embroidered Jacket

I wanted to be able to recover my sparkle and be able to enjoy creating again. I always loved embroidery and even prepared some workshops to teach some techniques. It seemed just the bit of adding paint to my usual passion.

My Camden Life or the beginning of the process.

Missing my beloved Camden, I decided this would be the theme for my jacket. This wasn’t my first idea to be honest. I had a few others that I started to work with but, I didn’t feel like going in that direction.

Sure about the main concept, I created a mood board with all the ideas and images I had in my mind. All those things reminding me my time living there: my room full of butterflies, my walks around enjoying the beautiful houses and parks, all the people I met living and working in the neighbourhood. My whole life in Camden.

Mood Board made using images from Pinterest. See the mood board and links to originals here.
Please, find their authors and websites there as I am not the author of any of pictures or artwork and they have been use as personal inspiration.

Second hand, slow fashion by all means.

Having a better idea of what I wanted to create, I needed a canvas. I wasn’t sure of using my old leatherette jacket as it is close to collapse after more than 15 years in my wardrobe. Also, I wanted denim as base. Something in a dark colour but not completely black either.

In any case, the important part was not buying a new clothing item. First, because I wasn’t sure about my painting skills on fabric and I didn’t want to damage a new item. Second, because loving as much as I do love second hand, vintage and reworking vintage, buying new was… at least, a bit weird.

This time and for a lot of reasons, including Covid again, Ebay was my friend. I couldn’t just go to a charity shop or a second hand market. It took some time until I found a second hand oversized denim jacket for a great price and in nice condition. When it arrived, it was lovely. I never thought I’d like a denim jacket like that one. But I liked it so much that a few months passed until I finally started to work on it. I was really afraid to ruin it.

Embroidery or losing the track of time.

I love embroidery. But it has a tiny little problem. It takes AGES to complete a simple motif.
I spent months creating the pieces I would later sew to the jacket. Months with pieces half way inside a biscuits tin. A months of traveling around with the same tin inside my bag in case I could find some time to continue a rose or a butterfly.

Becoming an embroidered jacket.

It took me a lot of time but it was absolutely worth it. In fact, I made extra pieces that at the end I didn’t add but I keep in case I need them.

It’s all about the details.

The truth is the painting was meant to be the only part done directly on the embroidered jacket from the beginning. I think there were a lot more chances of me embroidering on the piece as a base. But not painting.

I didn’t feel confident enough to go directly, so I got some denim fabric and I did a first test for a patch. Then, I liked it so much that I didn’t even repeat it. My first try was the final one.

Hours and hours to attach the embroidered motifs to the denim jacket.

I didn’t want to paint the sky on the background of the crow. I wanted to keep the effect of a patch without blending it completely with the jacket. So, I tried with some Swarovski crystals in black and silver and I loved the black ones.

My embroidered jacket finally finished.

Preparing the final composition before attaching all the motifs to the jacket was the best part. It reminded me of the crazy pieces of reworked vintage I’ve made by commission, specially at the beginning.

Work in Progress: motifs pinned into the embroidered jacket

I wanted all the patches on the back so the jacket would look a bit plain on the front. (Where my pins go!)
When playing with the embroidered patches I added some old vintage lace. I had some damage leftover that perfectly matched the composition. This little piece helped to give that extra character to the jacket.

I am really happy and proud of the result. This embroidered jacket has a lot of meaning for me. Not just about my time in Camden and how much I was missing it for a while. But also about all the growth, the strength, the not giving up that is behind every stitch.

I hope you also like it!

Berenice
xx

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