Oh, the fashion conundra you face as a metalhead. Lately, I've been working on a solution to three heavy metal fashion problems:
- My wardrobe cannot accomodate a band T-shirt for every band that I like.
- It is not possible to wear all of one's band T-shirts at once.
- The leather jacket that I've been wearing to most shows is a godsend in San Francisco winters, but a bit too warm for summer.
So, I'm making a patched denim jacket (also known as a "battlejacket"). Which will allow me to flaunt my fondness for at least a score of bands on a single mid-weight garment. Or out myself as a huge metal dork. Or both.
Before I started, I did a bit of searching around the internet to see how other people put their jackets together. I thought I'd put together my own post on how I did this.
- A denim jacket/vest or other unlined cloth jacket. For maximum coolness points, you probably want one that you've had a while, or a thrift-store find, so it's got a bit of fading and wear. I ended up with this jacket from Dickies.
- Fabric glue. This is not strictly necessary, because you can just sew the patches on. However, my research suggested that sewing plus glue was the most durable method of attaching patches. I got some stuff called Aleene's Fabric Fusion Permanent Adhesive.
- Heavy duty thread and needle. I used heavy-duty black polyester thread and what was described as a "canvas" needle. Most patches are hemmed with a border of black thread, so that's the least obtrusive choice. If you want to get fancier, you can use contrasting thread. For a crust punk vibe, use dental floss.
- Patches. These will definitely take the most work to hunt down. You can get them from individual bands' stores online, but you may end up paying as much in shipping as you pay for the patch, especially if you're ordering from Europe. Amazon has some patches for sale. The two best sources I found were the CultPatche666 eBay Store, and www.heavymetalmerchant.com (located in Australia, and you'll pay a little more for the patches, but their shipping rates are reasonable).
Here's a photo of the jacket with the first set of patches I acquired laid out on the back (not in the final layout in which they're getting sewn onto the jacket):
Top: Paradise Lost "Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us" patch.
Second row: My Dying Bride, Arch Enemy "Khaos Legions", Coal Chamber
Third row: Two Katatonia patches
Bottom row: Paradise Lost "Crown of Thorns" logo patch, Arch Enemy "Fuck the Rules" patch, Eluveitie patch
I've been gluing and sewing the patches a few at a time and here's the process that seems to work best:
- Lay the jacket out on a flat surface. Make sure the area where you're going to attach your patch is nice and flat.
- Apply glue lightly to the back of the patch.
If you're going to sew the patches, don't try to get glue all the way to the edges of the patch - you'll end up having to try to force the needle through a layer of dried glue as well as the jacket and patch. Also, a sufficiently thick blob of glue can soak through and slightly discolor the front of the patch. I squeeze the bottle with very light pressure and apply a thin stream of glue in a zig zag pattern across the surface of the patch.
- Press the patch down carefully on the jacket surface. Pile a couple of heavy hardback books on top and leave it for at least 2 hours.
- Thread your needle, and tie a knot in the bottom of the thread. Starting from the inside of the jacket, bring the needle up through the fabric of the jacket just on the outside edge of the patch. Pull the thread gently through until the knot catches on the inside.
- Push the needle down through the fabric of the patch and the jacket, just at the inside of the hemmed border of the patch.
- Repeat until you've sewn all the way around the border of the patch, or until the thread gets short enough to be awkward. Tie off the thread inside the jacket by looping the needle through the previous stitch, and then tying a knot.
Except for sewing on the odd button, I don't think I've sewn anything by hand since I was in the Brownies. Fortunately, prize-winning needlework is not required here - the stitches mostly blend in to the fabric, and any visible roughness just adds character.
If, like me, you don't do a lot of sewing, you'll probably find yourself fumbling a lot at first and doing stuff like accidentally unthreading your needle and sewing your iPod headphone cord to your jacket and stuff like that. Don't get discouraged - you'll soon develop a rhythm.
Here's the first patch after sewing:
Here's the inside of the jacket, so you can chuckle at my stitching. (Also, keen-eyed readers will note that for this patch, I brought the needle up through the jacket and patch and then down through the jacket just outside the patch. Didn't occur to me until after I'd finished this one that it's easier to precisely position your stitch inside the border of the patch if you're pushing the needle down through the patch rather than up.)
And here's the jacket with 5 patches sewn on. On the back, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Behemoth, and Coal Chamber. (Or as I like to refer to them, my merit badges in gothic metal, doom metal, death metal, and nu metal.) On the left sleeve is one of the Katatonia patches. If you zoom in to the full-sized image, you may be able to see a darkened spot on the right side of the "wings" image where I applied glue too heavily and it soaked through.