Repairing & Embellishing Shirts for Davíd Garza

My dear friend, musician & artist Davíd Garza, called me a week ago and told me he was mailing me three shirts to repair and embellish, just days before he was coming to my town on tour with Sara Watkins.  I used to do alterations & repairs, but I stopped doing it because I prefer the creativity of embellishing, rather than utilitarian repairs.  Knowing that Davíd is an artist and a free spirit, I knew these repairs didn't have to be boring, and that I could get a little weird with my embellishments.

When I opened the box he sent me, I was shocked at the state of the shirts.  I should have taken "before" shots so you could see what I mean.  I was *this close* to calling him and suggesting he retire the shirts.  One cream-colored button down was riddled with black mildew spots on over half of the shirt.  The sweatshirt was stretched out and had varying sizes of holes throughout.  A gauzy black pullover was faded, stretched, and looked like something had been chewing on it.  The fabric was so thin that I had a hard time picturing how to repair it.

I spent several hours repairing and embellishing the shirts, and here's how they came out:

This was the shirt that was half-covered in black mold dots.  It's a Mister Freedom shirt, which retails for a few hundred dollars when it's in good condition. I bleached the hell out of the mold stains, going through three treatments and washes until they came out to my satisfaction. Then I patched a big red stain on the front with some fabric that Davíd had sent.  I sewed some arrows on the top of the patch to add some subtle interest, and then I sewed an arrow on the opposite pocket. He mentioned wearing this shirt "at a nice dinner" so I kept the embellishments somewhat subtle.

Davíd wore this shirt on stage the night that I gave it to him, which made me really happy.  

This gauzy black pullover was the biggest challenge, so I got really creative with the patching.  The green patches on the side and elbows were already there, so I chose two fabrics that complemented those & added some + increase + symbols.

This shirt was never going to be fully restored & perfect, so I went more for a more mysterious soulful vibe.  I used two fabrics to create large patches over several larger holes.  The fabrics each had linear visual elements and some texture, so they fit right in with the textured, gridded main fabric of the shirt.  I added increase symbols via a large back patch, with subtle stitching over the square patches & also with some metallic paint.  The paint was another method of reinforcing a few holes, because it added strength to the fabric.

The final shirt is a Free City sweatshirt that had seen better days.  I patched a handful of holes, then painted two of my gold arrows on it, per Davíd's request.

I've never patched a knit garment before.  I found a knit fabric in my stash (all these fabrics were in my stash) that added some contrast and interest, then used an accent color (maroon) and a zigzag stitch to create the patches. For a few of the holes near the collar, I hand-stitched them with the maroon thread to reinforce them, using a bit of a darning technique.  Then I painted on the gold arrows, just two.

Davíd changed into this sweatshirt immediately after the gig.  It looked great on him.  You might catch him wearing one of these shirts on tour with Sara Watkins.

It's funny that two of the brands have the word FREE in them, as freedom is one of my biggest values.  These shirts were a challenge but I love the way they came out!