An exceptional seed was planted when Alessandro Michele took the helm at Gucci just about a year and a half ago. The seed sprouted into a menagerie of unparalleled beauty and vibrant romance and honestly, we’ve fallen so deep into Gucci’s Garden, we may never want to find a way out. Butterflies, ants, snakes, tigers, swallows, hummingbirds, bees, and flowers have been a recurring theme in each of his collections, each serving as modern day totems that adorn silk bombers, denim, knits, dresses and handbags. When a collection of men’s jackets, adorned with a mix of embroidered motifs, debuted at Gucci’s Pre-Fall 2016 collection and the introduction of a do-it-yourself service at select Gucci locations, that was it. For months, I was consumed by desire. But then I was hit by the reality that Italian-made craftsmanship comes at a price. And so began my search of patches and appliqués. For weeks, I started gathering pieces to build my own garden and it wasn’t until I struck gold with a strikingly similar snake patch, that I finally decided to put them all together onto a vintage denim jacket and share the resources I worked so hard to find. It’s still a work in progress as I hope to add more patches as I find them and try my hand at embroidering a monogram but here it is so far . . .
Some patches are sold with an iron-on backing already attached. Some are just appliqués without an iron-on backing. This is where Steam-A-Seam saves the day. I love this stuff and not only is it incredibly easy to use, I think has a better permanent hold than iron-on patches. And yes, it is machine washable once it’s fused onto your fabric! It’ll come in 9×12″ sheets on Amazon but your local fabric store might sell them by the yard too. The sticky, fusible sheet will come sandwiched between two sheets of paper. The white top paper will remove easily and the gridded bottom paper will need to be peeled off once your appliqué is attached. First, remove the top paper and stick the bottom of your appliqué to the Steam-A-Seam. Roughly cut around it. Place a plain piece of paper under the appliqué and another on top. This is to prevent the fusible glue from melting all over your iron and your ironing board.
On the highest heat setting, place the iron over the paper and the appliqué. Press firmly (steam is optional) over each section for 15-20 seconds. Let the appliqué cool for a minute before peeling away the top paper. Now that the appliqué is attached, cut around it.
Then turn the appliqué over and peel back the gridded bottom paper. You’ll notice the back of the appliqué is now sticky and ready to iron on.
Once all the patches and appliqués are ready to iron on, arrange them on the back of the jacket.
Then, with one patch at a time, start ironing them on. Place a piece of fabric, like a thin dish cloth or scrap piece of cotton, over the top of the patch. Press the iron firmly over the patch, for about 30 seconds over each section.
Allow it to cool completely before checking to see if it sticks. If you test it too soon, the glue won’t have time to set. If you want, you can always reinforce the patch with a straight stitch around the border of the patch for that extra hold. It’s especially helpful with the heavier, stiffer patches.
Repeat the steps with the rest of the patches. You can always turn the jacket inside out and give it some extra heat from the backside, as well.
And there you have it! Your Gucci inspired embroidered denim jacket is DIY’d!