Patches and Jeans

Kids and adults in Sandy Point had certain outfits for certain occasions. There were school clothes which might consist of one, two or three pair of overalls. There were real overalls which have the bib and suspenders and they are still around today but probably would not be seen on a school campus and then there were blue jeans that were often referred to as overalls because of the denim construction. Some kids were lucky to have one pair of jeans with no holes in them. But most had at least two so you could wear one pair a day or two while the other pair was being washed and ironed. Yes, I said ironed! And, probably, starched. They might be hand me downs from an older brother or sister or cousin.  A new pair or two from Sears or Penny’s at the start of school  was an anticipated event.

In Sandy Point, back in the day, as they say, there was a lot more pride than there was money. Kids did not have a closet full of clothes to choose from. They did not have the privilege of wearing an outfit once and throwing it down because it wasn’t exactly what they wanted.

There would be two or three shirts in the school clothes ensemble. One pair of shoes.

There were the play clothes or work clothes depending on the age. These were often the former school clothes that were starting to look worn and were demoted to face the dirt and grime of playing in the yard or working in the field or driving the tractor. And, they too might be hand me downs.

Sunday clothes might be that one dress or pair of wool pants that were worn only on Sunday to church and to funerals and weddings, etc. Recycling was used throughout the life of the garment.

One thing was certain: mothers did not let their kids go to school with a hole in the pants or dress if there was any way around it. Exposed skin was unacceptable and holes were an embarrassment to the child and to the parent. So if the garment developed a hole before the crops were sold or the hog was large enough to sell, some action was required.

Mending the hole in the pants required some sewing skills and required time. A small hole might be sewn up but bigger hole and tears might require a patch. It was because of that that old clothes and jeans were not thrown away and the fabric was kept handy so that the worn out garment could be used to make patches. Then, someone came up with the idea of selling patches.

The first store bought patches that I remember were fairly large and could be used to go over a damaged area or to reinforce the knees and give the garment longer wear. These patches were of an iron-on variety and made life easier for mama or grand mama or whomever was doing the repair.

In light of the fact that so many women and young ladies, maybe men too but I have not seen as many, are wearing distressed jeans, I wondered if patches were still sold. and they are.

Some of the distressed jeans look as if the pants leg could just fall off as there is only a small place or two where everything in connected. The rest is long tears , rips, or holes, not neat holes, either. Some are pretty expensive jeans, too.

If one of these young ladies had shown up at my grand mother’s house, she would have washed, ironed and applied as many iron on patches as necessary to cover up every hole. No matter what the things cost, no one in her family would have been caught in a pair of pants with that many holes! I dare say that the same would have applied to my mother, a darn good seamstress herself.

People ARE funnier than monkeys when you think about it. We buy a pair of expensive jeans to cover up and then pay more to have them distressed with holes, strings and gouges. My grandmother’s would have opened the sewing drawer, gotten out the patches and gone to patching!

Funny how the people of that generation could make things last and stretch the dollar. They would never have dreamed that a pair of jeans with a big hole or many big holes would be a good thing. That looked like a repair job to them. They did not know that a day was coming when holes were fashionable and patches aren’t. A fifteen year old will wear the torn up distressed jeans but would not be caught dead in a pair of Levi’s with an ironed on patch.

JC 2016©

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