Brown Tabby Works – Boilerman Overalls

This project; the first and last of its kind. This was a project undertaken by Narita-san and myself. The idea was to reconstruct a pair of overalls that were basically unwearable. Rather than just turn the remains into patches or thread, we took it upon ourselves to give this pair a second life.

The denim was part of a collection 2 years in the making. A precarious ordeal; fishing old denim rags out of attics of abandoned houses in North Carolina. This rescued denim made its way to our shores.  None of this denim was wasted in the least during the reconstruction of these overalls. Every scrap and tatter has found its way into some repair or another. All the denim was generously gifted to us for the purpose of this project.

Boilerman Overalls 2

Piece by piece, and stitch by stitch; a total of 96 sewing hours; 2 months of concept and execution. The basic idea here is a generational heirloom repair. The stitching colours, and denim scraps create a sense of time flowing from one repair to another. Very little machine stitching was done, as most of the fabric was so old and thin from sitting in storage for years that it was too delicate. It needed a gentle hand and stitching that would shrink and stretch with more ease.

The tradition of generation after generation of railroad workers from the 1920’s  passing down knowledge through the ages. Little by little adding more and more repair. The really remarkable thing is though that one person did all the stitching time on this, and put in an unbelievable amount of effort and passion. I revere Narita-san for his perseverance and tenacity.

The patchwork layout and reconstruction was more like a game of Tetris than anything else. Making sure the gradation of denim had continuity, and the wear and fade of each part matched closely to the original structure. What you have here is a sophisticated repair showing much passion and skill; a masterpiece.

Boilerman Overalls 1

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