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The Blog from Oi Polloi presents: by Jack Swift •

Been a fair stretch since we’ve done one of these Antiques Clothes Show things. So to re-introduce this illustrious series with a deafening bang, here’s Jack Swift, one of our shop stewards with a name straight out of a Dickens novel, waxing lyrical about his very own patchwork creations. Take it away Jack…

I was inspired to make this from a guy on YouTube who was making patchwork kimonos. He picked apart some military-style jackets, like BDU jackets, with a range of different patterns, a mix of camo and blank colours. He was cutting them all up and making patchwork out of them, and doing the sashiko embroidery himself. So I saw that video, and thought I’d have a crack at doing it.

I’d never done anything like this before, but I had done some light repairs and stuff on denim. When I was younger, I used to wear denim as a second skin. I’d buy pairs of unwashed selvedge jeans and batter them in to the point where they were falling apart, and there was holes all over them. But I took them to a guy in Manchester (who I won’t name here) and he ended up charging me twenty quid to repair two small holes. I was like… I’m not fucking spending twenty quid every time I need small holes repairing haha. So I just started repairing them myself. I saw this guy on Instagram, who, instead of hiding the damage, made features out of ‘em.

So I just started having a go at that. And because of how much I’d batter my jeans, how much I’d have to repair them, I got a feel for it pretty quickly. And once I was comfortable, I wanted to try something more ambitious. But I never really committed to that idea until lockdown.

While I had all that spare time, I ended up buying a sewing machine and just having a go. The first thing I made was a military liner. I picked one of those up for thirty quid, picked it apart and recreated it in a different fabric.

I was pleased with the results, so I tried something a bit more difficult: this jacket.

This one took me sixth months from start to finish. I really went full tilt on this – at one point, I was spending 14 hours a day on it. I meticulously copied the pattern from an old Universal Works military overshirt, then started doing the bulk of the fabric cutting and joining them all together to make the patchwork. I had to have a six week respite from it because I was going under from doing so much embroidery haha. When they reopened, I’d go to the pub, have a few beers and do the embroidery there.

All the fabrics on this are just remnants I got from a site called Merchant of Mills. I had my eye on this ecap fabric for a while, but never pulled the trigger until all the remnants on the site started to compliment each other. It probably only cost £30 quid for all the fabric. And other than the hundred metres of thread I’ve used on this, I don’t think that’s a bad deal at all.

Would I sell it? Absolutely not. Although, if you came through with an offer in the mid-thousands, I might consider ahaha.

If you want to see more of Jack's patchwork creations, give him a follow over on Instagram.

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