Liz Wauchope and Naina Devi, dynamic collaborative textile artists from Adelaide, South Australia, fell in love with working with denim, as part of preparing a collection for Sustainable Couture in Alice Springs:
We made a lot of quite spectacular outfits and accessories. But our favourites were the denim jackets where we took the scissors to them, gashed them unmercifully, and let colourful silk scraps spill out. To make matters even more interesting, we then sewed open the wounds to expose the vivid silk layers, and embellished with a rough and ready red sashiko stitching.
Materials for this project
Fabric scraps: we used leftover pieces of Liz's hand painted silks
Backing fabric: we used black cotton lawn
Sewing machine and strong thread
Sashiko thread (or stranded embroidery thread will do)
Sashiko needle (or other long embroidery needle)
Fabric cutting scisors
Small sharp scissors (embroidery scissors are best: must have a sharp point)
Iron all your scraps so they are nice and flat and ready to sandwich between layers.
On the denim jacket, measure the areas where you want to slash. We did the main back panel, and two front areas.
Cut the lining fabric to cover those areas you have measured, plus a seam allowance.
We found it more pleasing, and easier to slash, having a baseline of a recognisable painted silk fabric (or whatever scraps you are using) to cut back to, rather than having the black lining as the bottom most layer. You can just go straight to attaching all the scraps haphazardly to the black lining if you are happy to have black as the base layer. But if you want to create a colourful base line, the next three steps are the way to go.
Cut one large scrap the same size of the lining material
Cut a piece of fusible webbing the size of the two fabrics you have just cut (lining and scrap.)
Now stack lots of different sized and different coloured scraps directly onto the inside of the denim jacket, where you have measured and plan to slash. Sandwich at least four, and as many as six, layers of scraps.
Next, lay out the fused piece of scrap and lining, on top of the layered scraps, black lining uppermost.
Pin the sandwich of fabrics together to roughly hold them in place while you sew.
We used a red thread on the sewing machine in order to make the stitching clearly visible once you turn the jacket over to slash.
Fold the seam allowance over as you sew the lining over the sandwiched scraps, attaching the edges to the back of the denim jacket.
The attached fabric sandwich remains pinned in place once sewn.
Then sew diagonal lines to hold all the layers in place.
Turn the jacket right side out, and use very sharp, pointed embroidery scissors to slash though the denim and layers of scraps, being careful not to cut through the base layer.
Have fun using sashiko or embroidery thread to sew the slashes open in a random way.
You can then embellish further, using the Sashiko or embroidery threads to stitch designs into the areas of the jacket that have not been slashed.