For years, I would carefully remove all of the labels from my clothing. It didn't matter whether a garment was from Gucci or Kmart—I just disliked looking at the labels in my clothes and them rubbing against my neck in shirts or jackets. I think I partially acquired this obsessive habit due to my father’s distaste in "advertisements" on clothing. "Advertisements" is what he called any logo or identifying label on apparel (ie the alligator on a Lacoste shirt or the polo pony on a Ralph Lauren shirt). He sold Lacoste and other brands in his golf pro shop, but never personally wore any clothing with a visible logo or identifying label. He thought it was free advertising and marketing for the brands, and its appeal was geared toward middle class people seeking status symbols for themselves. Obviously he didn’t like Mr. Peacock wearing logos or labels either. In junior high school, I wanted to wear a Lacoste shirt so badly. He finally succumbed and let me have a hideous Lacoste pullover that he couldn't sell in his shop. It was an olive green and orange wide-striped velour pullover with a v-neck. That pull-over was so ugly, but I still had fun wearing that little alligator. I thought it looked kinda punk. When I got older, my parents would argue over other clothing and hair choices I made. My mother ultimately won the argument, and I could wear whatever I chose for myself. After working at various large retail corporations as an adult, I fully understand my father’s repulsion of blatant brand marketing and advertising on apparel. It’s more prevalent now, than when I was in seventh grade.
I liked the design of the labels (typography, color, etc...) and always saved them in my sewing box, with my fabric remnants and thread. I took some of the labels I had removed from my clothing and sewed them into a "patchwork" pattern on the back panel of a vintage denim, Wrangler jacket. It was a bit toungue-in-cheek and I nicknamed my jacket—the "label whore" jacket. I mixed in brand labels (ie…Helmut Lang), garment care labels (ie…dry clean only), some humorous labels from vintage pieces (ie…Man Skin, Made for my Hubby), and some very graphic apparel labels from the 80’s (ie Hell is for Heroes). I like the "patchwork" mosaic pattern the labels create on the jacket.
Here’s the instructions to make your own patchwork label jacket:
1) Remove Labels
Carefully remove the labels with a seam ripper and an X-Acto knife. Be very careful and patient, because you don’t want to cut through your garment or the label.
2) Prep Labels
Remove all the loose threads from the labels. Iron them, face down with a cloth over them (I used a handkerchief), using a moderate heat. This will "flatten" the labels.
3) Select Garment
Find a piece of clothing you would like to "patchwork" the labels onto. I used the back of a vintage denim jacket, but you could use any clothing item from a sweater to a shirt—whatever you like. Make sure the clothing item is clean and dry.
4) Arrange Labels
Lay the clothing item on a large flat surface—a table, ironing board or even the floor. Gather all of your labels and start positioning them (with double sided scotch tape) in an arrangement you prefer. I arranged mine in a very linear, grid-like arrangement, but you could be more abstract, and even overlap the labels.
5) Finalize the arrangement
Once you have an arrangement you like, try on the garment and look in the mirror. Do you like the arrangement? If not, rework the labels until you’re happy with your layout and design arrangement.
6) Fuse labels to garment
Once you finalize your arrangement, start ironing each label down with a piece of iron-on fusible tape, like Stitch Witchery. Cut a piece of fusible tape to fit each label. Use the handkerchief cloth again, placed over the label as you carefully iron each label using a moderate heat. You can iron a small group of labels at a time too, but be careful and patient as you go.
7) Sew labels to garment
Okay, now you’re ready to sew the labels to the garment. You can sew them by hand with a simple straight stitch, or use a machine. I used a sewing machine, with clear acrylic thread—set on a straight stitch. You want to carefully “outline” each label with stitching, so the labels don’t fall off when you wash the garment. If you don't sew on the labels and just use the fusing tape, the labels will start to peel off the garment after a few washes. Carefully trim all the lose threads when you're finished sewing.
Your "label-whore" jacket is finished and ready to be worn! If you don’t have enough labels Mr. Peacock suggests checking the bargain bin at your local thrift store. Look for interesting looking labels (ie…labels with cool typefaces, colors, interesting or funny names). You could also beg your friends to let you raid their closet for labels, just be extra careful when removing them!