Obscured Details #2 – Momotaro x Japan Blue

When finding shit to write about, it gets to the point where fit is irrelevant. What should be noticed are the details. Fit’s are always subjective and personal preference. A slim fit is such a broad term. To some, slim is another man’s straight, vice versa. Obscured details are those details that you wouldn’t notice from more than a metre away. Creative little jelly beans that you hide in your pocket and refuse to share with anyone else unless they get into your pants!

Obscured details are what separates a creative business, from a business business. When the business business types sniff out the jelly beans in your pocket (*cough* selvedge *cough*) and try to replicate it, it’s time to jump ship and leg it out to the next jelly bean patch.

I almost feel guilty for sharing construction details of other brands on the web, but I know that they’ve already started work on the next great thing.

Momotaro x Japan Blue – Japan Blue x Momotaro

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Obscured Details #1 – Self Locked

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I noticed a small detail on the hems of a 505 LVC I was hemming for a client.

The end of the stitching on the hems had a smaller stitch length compared to that used on the entire hem. Sewing the hem like this with a chain-stitch caused the looping thread to bunch at closer intervals which effectively prevents the chain-stitch from unraveling through daily friction without the need to be tied down.

It is an interesting sewing method that looks a little ‘coarse’ but is yet a good reflection of the Levis company and their earlier developments and pursuit to manufacture a jean with the greatest amount of efficiency.

Although this could just be the handy work of an individual in a factory who decided this is the way they choose to sew hems. It is by no means an indication of whether this is or has ever been the preferred method by Levis.

Go to your wardrobes and check yours!!

The Deeper Blues of Sydney – CoRLection’s deep dive into the scene.

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Found on Pitt St in Sydney, CoRLection continues to fill our local streets with a top selection of  Japanese and American goods. Props to Lee for making it happen and working hard regardless of whatever bloody “retail situation” Sydney is in at any given time.

 

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Lee has injected many brands onto his shelves since he first opened CoRLection, he continues to offer competitive prices that rival international webstores; and with the ability to try before you purchase while you receive relevant feedback, why wouldn’t you buy local?

CoRLection – Shop 2, 457 Pitt St, Sydney, NSW 2000

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http://www.corlection.com

Dean’s Studio D’Artisan – D1549 – ‘The Salesman Jeans’ – Tapering

Sooo Studio D’Artisan decide to make a jean out of 5 different fabrics and call it the ‘Salesman Jean’. Yep. My theory behind it is that it will attract attention via it’s point of difference and rather than a normal jean showing how one pair of jeans fade and wear in, these will manage to show you, your real life friends and your electronic buddies how 5 jeans fade on the one garment! Hence, The Salesman Jeans. Haha, great concept by Studio D’Businessman!

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This absolutely magnificent piece of  art belongs to a Sydney denim head slash many other things, Dean. These have been brought to me to be tapered. Not a ‘from the knee, down’ sort of taper; but a ‘from one hem to the other’ kind of taper, so I guess, maybe more of a reconstruction. I have begun to provide my tapering service again recently considering the stories I have been hearing about local tailors/alteration shops chopping off selvedge and what not. But please, not too many at once!

The aim is to get it to fit similar to a pair of Momotaro 0705sp with a slightly longer crotch.

THE FABRICS

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Although this jean is based off the straight SD-103 fit, it has been constructed from the fabric and details of 5 different jeans. The SD-001, SD-101, SD601-99, SD-DO1, and the SD601-00. This means that there is a range of 14oz and 15oz weights, right hand and left hand twills, and also synthetic and natural indigo. The fabrics alone portray a strong image of the brand, what they have to offer, and what they are capable of accomplishing. The finished result of this jean after heavy amounts of wear will be something of noteworthy value. I have the feeling it will silence many long serving denim heads as they trace the fade of one crease along one panel to another, the wear comparisons at the seams, and fades at each crossroad of fabric.

THE DETAILS PT 1

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Lined yokes, a never ending array of various thread weights and colours, the selvedge cinch-back, the selvedge button fly, hidden rivets, various and multiple D’artisan tabs, twills travelling all directions especially once panels have been rotated from the grain-line. This jean has a lot going on.

THE DETAILS PT 2

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The cinch-back buckle has been by far one of the most interesting pieces of hardware I have seen in a while. It’s not just the craftsmanship evident upon viewing this buckle that got me, it was the smooth gliding motion of turning the pronged piece that slapped me in the face. If you treasure quality hardware, and if you ever come across this buckle in your life, whether it be a stranger wearing these down the street, or in a shop; please do yourself a favour and lift their shirt up, and play with their cinch-back buckle!

THE SOAK

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Any excuse for me to use my underwater camera right! Every time I soak jeans, the bubbles always give me the feeling that jeans are as much living as you and I. They’re like some underwater creature waiting to surprise you; they either come out a small fish laughing because they shrank more than you expected, or a giant loch-ness monster that barely shrank and is now looking at you thinking… “suck, now you have to deal with oversized me, you should have done your research and gone down a size idiot!” Sometimes though, you catch the right one… and you enjoy a long hearty meal.

I soaked the jeans in the hottest temperature the tap was capable of, which is usually never really that hot. I added some rock salt because it feels like a ritual must, and some Himalayan Natural Pink Salt because I’ve seen many of Dean’s artworks; and he seems to have a fixation with the colour…… natural pink! Enough said, hahaha.

THE POST SOAK

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I like to dry jeans out in the sun while they are fresh from the soak to start drying the heavily layered sections, and later place them in the shade with access to plenty of air flow to prevent them from smelling damp once they do dry. They did shrink quite a bit and there was some heavy skewing in the leg… ahh, smells like some old school detailing!

THE ALTERING

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When I received the jeans, they had been altered in length from what I could tell, probably at time of purchase. The inseam measured at 31.5″. The length shrank about 1.5″ after the soak. So remember with an unsanforized fabric, when hemming, allow for shrinkage. In order to get these jeans to the desired fit, the hems are unravelled, the inseam topstitch was removed and a new inseam measurement is sewn down. I then run it through with a 4 thread safety stitch along the inseam and perform a topstitch on a feed-off-the-arm machine from one hem to the other. The hems are re-chainstitched and the crotch has a bartack applied to the crotch point. Sounds quick and easy, but is a lot more time consuming in real life. Measurements must be precise on both legs, if not, you will have an uneven asymmetric fit. You also need to take into account that when unsanforized fabrics are soaked/shrunk, they may skew in the legs causing more attention required to inseam tapering.

The benefit with tapering from one end to the other is that the construction is all ‘seamless’. Everything looks basically fresh from the production line. When tapering from the knee down, the seam must be continued creating a ‘break’ in the construction. This is where the original stitch work meets the altered work. Some may see an overlap in the stitches from the outside. However, that is another aesthetic in itself to adding to the story of your jean. For some though, they still prefer clean details. All in all, the jeans came out smashing!

THE CONCLUSION

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All there is to do now is smash them, stretch them, fade them, crock them and watch shit get intense! I will be looking forward to following the progression of these jeans, so they may further carry and market the Studio D’Businessman brand into their bright looking future!

New Scissors – KAI 7280 & 7205

 After shredding it out with a few mediocre pair of fabric scissors for quite some time, I decided to purchase a pair of Kai Fabric Scissors. Solid craftsmanship is evident the moment you separate and slide the blades back together. It is Michael Buble smooth, not a coarse friction feeling. It makes heavy denim layered 8 times feel like you are cutting through a single piece of chambray, and the cutting power does not dissipate the further from the pivot point you attempt to cut. It cannot really be explained. It has to be experienced.

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Iron Heart’s 23oz… oh cool…. Cargo Pants!!!… WTF!

When a regular alteration client of mine from Melbourne asked me to hem his cargo pants in an email, my first thoughts were.. Oh, cargo pants; I better set up the machines for a lighter weight fabric and find some slimmer topstitch threads in an olive drab range. Then BOOM!! Before my assuming mind could assume anymore, I read his next email, ’23oz’. WTF!

I love how nonchalant he was about it as well. Usually I get emails for alterations, and when it’s a heavy fabric, the weight is the first thing mentioned with a fat cheeky smile or a timid, ‘can these be done’? He chooses to tell me after I arrange for him to have it posted to me. Cheers Tom! Any fabrics over 22oz, for me, I need to prepare mentally for. Hand cramps occur when rolling the hem, broken needles tend to happen…. damn where did I put my old science goggles! No joke they saved me once. I’d look like a damn pirate if i hadn’t had those things on. Would you trust a pirate looking guy with your $400 jeans. Hell no.

Oh well, here are some of my first thoughts on the cargo pant when I held them in my hands.

IRON HEART 705 – “HEAVY ASS MOTHERS” – SERGE 2X2 WEAVE CARGO PANT – OLIVE

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Sorry, for the direct sun shots, It was the only time I could take photos before sending them back to Tom once my hands recovered! Other than the weight of these, there were many construction details indicating these pants were made to take a beating. You’ve got some blade edged front pockets, welted back pockets, reinforced knees, triple stitched lapped seams, thigh cargo pant style pockets and seven belt loops all sewn first into the waistband.

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My favourite detail would have to be the coin pocket feature against the vertical pocket opening like on the 704′s. From a functional point of view, the placement of the coin pocket almost makes it’s opening secure, yet accessible at the same time. Just like a fine woman, not too easy to get into, not too hard to make it a mere design feature!

When taking into account these are meant to be motorcycle specialised garments, the coin pocket makes sense. If you have ever kept your zippo -or similar sized item -in your coin pocket, you may have experienced it popping out when you sit down a certain way. At least, before it tries to run from your sweaty hips, it will hit the top of the front pocket opening…. if you can manage to get your zippo in this coin pocket!

The zipper is a Talon and has been framed by the selvedge ends of the fabric. Being a snob and all, my instincts went straight to the hem to flip the outseam. Booooom. One fat ass triple stitched lapped seam slapped me in the face. This made me smile a hundred smiles. The part in me that stabs the snob in me is the part that wants to break up snobbery! (lol bad rhyme) It was great to see them choose this construction feature over the open seam. Where the open seam is held together by one stitch and shows off the selvedge, a lapped seam closes itself together with 4 layers, and in this case three stitches. I’ve always felt funny about a triple stitch. The seam can manage in most cases without the middle stitch. However there are the rare cases when the double chainstitch can fail. Then I always look at the middle stitch closely… and this is what I always see. Ahhhhh.. It makes sense now… That’s what the middle stitch is for! I was curious to open up the outseam of the cut offs after I had hemmed these to see if they had sewn over the the selvedge. But I refrained. Tom might want to wear the cut offs as a crown; who am I to deny him of this privilege.

The cargo pockets as well show obvious motorcycle design features. Best place to keep your zippo if it’s too large for the coin pocket! The cargo style pocket has a button and keyhole feature on one side of the flap only. The rear of the pocket flap has been sewn down to prevent anything sliding out as you ride, items such as your switchblades or worn in bikie brass knuckles. The welted back pockets constructed with their pocket bag lining sewn into the waistband for added stability, would minimise bulk on your back end while you ride. Jean back pockets wear quickly in the same spots when riding. With a single layer of denim as the only defense against you losing your wallet. The welted pockets allow an extra layer between your wallet and the outside world, similar to lined jean back pockets, with the difference that the pocket bag on a welted  pocket still has the ability to slide around and move without being so stationary, and assaulting the same areas of friction.

I tried to refrain from talking too much about the weight of these and go more into some construction details, but damn they were a nice heavy. For a 23oz serge fabric with a 2×2 weave pattern, the reversed side of the cloth was surprisingly soft. It is a perfect reflection to the brand name Iron Heart. Hard on the outside, soft and meaningful on the inside…. just like a fine woman!

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Rumble Mash

When my girlfriend showed me this video, my jaw literally dropped. Someone decided to layer Link Wray’s, ‘Rumble’ over the intro footage from The Delicate Delinquent, a movie starring Jerry Lewis.

Link Wray is one bad mother. He is responsible for that transition during the 50′s from electric blues, straight into what we consider modern rock, through the use of power chords. This song introduced a new found rebellion in the music industry without saying a word, at a time when the film industry began portraying juvenile delinquency through theatre.

Oh, there’s jeans in the clip as well to ogle over. 1950′s denim on film…!! Hit the pause button boys, grab your chambray tissues, your leather wax and oils.!! Lock the door and turn the volume up for a change!

Back on the Blog

It’s been a little over a year since my last post. Shame on me. My laptop gave up on me last year, it took me about 6 months to replace it! The other 6 months was me just not prioritising it enough.

I have to thank Lee at CoRLection for looking me dead in the eyes with his best cowboy face and telling me I need to get my ass moving on the blog again.

Things have slowly developed and some progress had been made while much still stays the same.

I’d like to let people know I am still offering my alterations services and try to make time for the bigger jobs such as complete fit altering when I can.

My focus is now behind two brands that I am slowly building with my bare hands. I hope to have plenty to show in 2013.

So here is looking forward to a more electronically switched on year. Cheers!

Melbourne's Streets and Creative 'Feets'. – Part 2

Now brings me onto the ‘Creative Feets’ aspect of the title… Yeah yeah yeah, terrible play on words. Live with it.

In Melbourne we stayed at the Art Series Hotel: The Cullen, which was recommended by a friend. Cheers Hannah! The Cullen is like the love child between a fantastic creative business mind, and a free spirited grunge eye for the gritty and the crude. The Cullen displays the artworks of Adam Cullen, a Sydney born artist whose works, are best viewed rather than discussed with no visuals. The hotel was situated close to Chapel St and a hidden workspace specialising in bespoke leather shoes.

Wootten Bespoke Footwear by Jess Cameron-Wootten.

I have a huge appreciation for items handmade/handcrafted by the one individual. One item created by one pair of hands. It evokes the diminishing ideals of the soon forgotten concept of face to face manufacturing, or tailoring the bespoke, in it’s purist sense. By this I mean the difference between an individual meeting you, measuring you, and creating for you opposed to, you logging onto a bespoke website, entering your measurements and paying for an overseas manufacturer to put together an item for you according to what the specifications on an order form say. No hate against that method though.

At Custom Made Shoes on Grattan St, Prahran, I was taken in by the whole experience. The retail front, the shelves full of lasts behind the counter that led to the various leathers rolled up and all that machinery… score! I spoke with Jess and he gave me the rundown of what he does and a little about the creative scene in Melbourne, then he kindly let me run free in his workshop. Jess was the real thing, a proper cordwainer carrying over the skills from his father and keeping the experience available for the public for that much longer. (A common misconception is the use of the term cobbler referring to a person who makes leather shoes. A cobbler is actually someone that works with used materials or repairs shoes, where as a cordwainer is a person that crafts shoes from brand new materials. But you all already knew that!)

I love workspaces and this did not disappoint.

I believe products are best viewed through the eyes of the creator. Interested? Check out Jess’ website at http://doccobbler.squarespace.com/wootten/.

Melbourne's Streets and Creative 'Feets'. – Part 1

My recent trip to Melbourne was both inspiring and refreshing. Melbourne is very much a creative hub full of quirks and culture that seamlessly manages to blend history and innovation within it’s alleyways and lanes.

My girlfriend and I decided not to plan anything for the trip and rather just explore as many lanes and back alleys as possible. Spontaneous discovery always brings about more excitement and a greater feeling of accomplishment than checklists and time-frames… yawn! Spontaneous alley-way action yeah yeah yeah!!

The State Library actually had to be one of the most kick ass libraries we’ve visited. You wouldn’t normally hear the words kick ass and library in the one sentence unless you were going to ‘kick someone’s ass, in the library!’ The library had art galleries and exhibitions, rooms to listen to a huge range of music, watch DVD’s and docos, a video gaming room with PlayStation’s, Xbox’s and Wii’s (this is probably where the ass kicking takes place), an area with the latest magazines… or zines as you hipsters call it… The closest thing we have to something similar in Sydney would’ve been our local Borders, which has now closed down, most likely thanks to Melbourne and their damn super-library.

The graffiti… well, you cant talk about graffiti, it has to be seen.

Yep.. and that was less than half of what was in one alley.

 

43200G Replacing 56400P for Alterations

Sourcing and purchasing a 43200G couldn’t have come at a better time. My Union Special 56400P was basically letting me know that I was busting it’s balls on these 19oz double felled and lapped inseam hems and 24 oz hem jobs.

I am in the process of arranging to have the 43200G mounted on a table so I can get it hemming asap. This machine may just be for alterations in the future. I have a different machine in mind for the jeans on my production line. In any case, this will serve well for alterations and a back up in case my ideas don’t quite work out.

I won’t do the whole “vintage 43200G have been discontinued… we found one from the depths of hell” spiel, as most of you are probably tired of reading that same old story by now.

Here are a few photos of the machine though.

 

This is the machine straight out of packaging.
The top folder is the folder that came with the machine. The bottom folder is an original Union Special that I sourced a while ago thanks to Big Mac over at C&C. Obvious quality difference, but you still have to respect the work that’s gone into replicating the folder. The top folder was actually a replicate of the older style folders with the longer screw plate. These were more commonly seen on the black and brown models, where as the bottom one was usually found on the later beige models.
This is the machine after a few tweaks and the original folder placed on it, after stealing some parts from the replicated folder. It’s now just waiting for me to get it on a table and strapped to a motor.

Oh and just before I forget. No post about a 43200G is complete without these few words. Chain-stitch, rope fade blah blah blah blah blah….

Kerbside Treasures

The deadliest time for me and everyone else on the road is during the local council’s bi-annual  kerbside cleanup. I can’t help but keep an eye out for machine age industrial furniture, or heaven forbid an actual industrial sewing machine (I’ve seen it once).

It seems most families are happy to let go of furniture made of real leather, metal, brass and wood to make room for their new trendy Ikea plastic stack-able furniture.  This works well for me as well as the many antique shop dealers and visual merchandisers who can be seen at midnight every kerbside clean up with a van or ute doing a good old fashioned grab and run in their ninja outfits.

This was my latest find while on my way to have yum-cha haha.

Clean lines, and straight throughout. These are photos of the chair before I cleaned it. The wooden top block had cracks from over drying, as well as water damage stains which I thought was a great contrast. I lightly sanded back the coarse and loose sections but kept the cracked aesthetic before applying a coat of linseed oil and beeswax. Luckily there was no sign of rot or termite damage.

The body had a bit of rust which I cleaned off and sealed. I still like keeping rust stains though to preserve the original patina of the item when I found it.

The seat just needed some cleaning around the piping and a light re-oiling.

This chair now sits under my Singer 119W2 hemstitch machine.

Off into the sunset… THAT STORE Closing

Here ends the era for our ‘local wooden shed of woven delights’. THAT STORE last week, began the process of closing down its stores throughout Melbourne and Sydney. It was quite sudden and it is very unfortunate to see the stores go, along with my job haha!

THAT STORE as well as BluBird Denim Store are among the denim outlets that closed their doors this year in Sydney; oh yeah, and a few Just Jeans stores or something right…?! Here’s hoping that Denim Co. will look into purchasing some boutique and denim-head-friendly jeans.

There are still stores out there tucked away in the streets of Sydney that can fix you up with your denim hits. HALFSLEEVE, Via Alley, CoRLection, Route 66 and Harrolds.

For all alteration customers, you can still contact me via email and I can make arrangements in regards to collecting your jeans for alterations.

Remnants… Australia's Last Denim Mill

Thanks to Hassan over at Denim Yoke in Marrickville for finding me what had proven to be a challenging search, identifiable excess fabrics from Bradmill Textiles’ Australian production mill.

The mill was Australia’s largest denim producing mill and also the last in the country. The company still exists in Australia, however, production as with most things ‘fashion’ related in Australia has been taken offshore.

BRADMILL HISTORY

Above is a link for a page that has since been removed from Bradmill’s current website. It includes some photos of the production line from the 1960′s and 1980′s as well as some company history. Check it out since the link will most likely be removed in the future.

I managed to get my indigo covered hands on a diverse range of fabrics from their final years of production in Oz. Some of the fabrics are still packaged in sampling quantities which were sent to companies such as Ksubi in their earlier Tsubi days when they were first starting out.

There is a great mix of right hand twill, dry broken twill, herringbone, stretch, dirty denim dyed, camel colours and a few others. I will be saving these fabrics for something interesting and special!

Here are a few pictures of the fabrics squashed into my car.

The Freehand Gang

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These machines have been sitting around for a while waiting to be cleaned and restored. They are the Cornely LTG, Cornely K, and the Singer 114w103 single thread chain-stitch embroidery machine that use a freehand crank below the machine to direct the motion of the stitch using the universal feed ring. The LTG is a twin needle with a few more applications than the other two machines.

Back in the day, these types of machines were used to stitch names onto clothing such as handkerchiefs and work shirts. They were also used to stitch designs on western clothing as well as many concert outfits for people such as Jimmy Page.

Cornely was the company that invented the first freehand embroidery universal feed sewing machine. Both of my Cornely machines date back from the 1870′s.

Resurrecting Old Projects

Pattern-making is taking its toll on me and I have decided to take a break from that and turn my attention back to on old project that was left in the dust. Restoring my Union Special 1200G machine from the early 1900′s manufactured in Union Special’s German plant. This machine is completely frozen due to old machine oil and dirt having gummed up all of the parts. Taking it apart, cleaning and restoring should be quite interesting. There are still a few materials I need to purchase, but hopefully this will take my mind off pattern-making for a while.

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The Watch Seller


I bumped into this guy along the beaches of Boracay in the Philippine Islands. He is a watch seller with a crazy denim side bag that he made himself.

I also loved the fading on his own jeans. It was refreshing to see a pair of jeans that have been worn hard, but also washed whenever needed without any extra thought towards whiskers, combs or roping. The patina seemed a lot more honest and natural, which was a perfect reflection towards the relaxed atmosphere surrounding the wearer.

Temporarily Soaking the Sun and Sipping the Blues

Hi all,

Just a little note to let you all know that I will not be in Sydney from the 24th of January to the 16th of February.

Upon my return, I will answer all emails and get back into alterations and repairs.

I will try my best to reply to any emails during my trip but cannot promise anything as I will have very limited access to a computer.

In the mean time, smash those jeans, stack those stacks, twist those hems and keep on crocking.

Mikhail

Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk. Classic for the nerds.

Now this is a video for the male denim-heads out there, which, let’s be honest, is the majority of you!

This is an 80′s flashback with a pair of high-waisted Lee Jeans by the group Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. This video for me is up there with The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony as my favourite ‘all-you-need-to-do-is-walk-along-a-footpath’ style clip. The stunning blonde is Randi Brooks. She reminds me very much of Natasha Henstridge who during the 90′s also established herself as a sex icon in the movie Species, however, without the use of jeans… or anything else for that matter!

If Lee were to re-release this clip in one of their advertising campaigns now, I’m deadly sure it will help increase business.

MacGyver and Denim

Great shot of Richard Dean Anderson in denim tucked into some wicked mid calf lace ups. Rumours of this photo are that he was resting somewhere in Okayama, Japan after repairing a broken down Toyoda loom with a pair of aviators so that he could weave some selvedge from the chest and facial hairs he plucked off himself. They are just rumours though, he could have been using reading glasses with transition lens.

Here to serve… Sydney and neighbours.

The LockstitchEXPANDING THE DENIM HEAD COMMUNITY OF SYDNEY- and neighbours…

For those in-the-know, and those who care, the denim community in Sydney is set to expand.

In the near future, this blog will become your local denim guide and will hopefully teach you a few things about denim jeans, the art of handcrafted goods, and the denim-obsessed community hidden in our city.

Currently working as the store manager for THAT STORE in Chatswood, I have come across many denim detail-obsessed fanatics. It’s been good to have met you all… and honestly, quite a relief.

As many of you may know, I look after some of the more specialised alterations and repairs for THAT STORE. Yes, also the chainstitching service! If you had any questions, feel free to contact me directly at m@mikhailzenon.com  – Alternatively, you may contact THAT STORE in Chatswood or even drop by and have a chat.

I will elaborate more on these services and slowly share my knowledge and experience with everything denim (as I hope you all will too!).

Mikhail