Grace's Custom Embellished Denim Jacket
A few months ago, I got my second commission for a custom “Denim Jacket Do-Over.” A sweet friend of a friend in the dairy world, Carey Alberg, asked me to make something inspired by her sparkling tween daughter, Grace. It took me a while to decide on a design because Grace has a lot more to her than just the dairy farm aspect. She’s also spunky, loves to dance, and is sort of obsessed with Hamilton. Plus, her grandfather’s dairy, Ronnybrook Farm, produces some of the greatest ice cream ever, which pretty much makes her royalty in my book.
I’ve been studying impressionist artists lately, and have been quite fascinated with the way they mixed colors on the canvas and created feeling and energy in their layered brushstrokes. I don’t know anything about painting, and can’t even hold a brush properly, but I thought it would be fun to make a pretty impressionist-inspired jacket embellishment that would reflect Grace’s juxtaposed personality including both ultra femininity and farm-girl strength. Thus, we have the suggestion of a dairy cow in the form of flowers!
She got to open her present from her parents tonight and her mom said she loves it! Here are a few photos of her opening it up:
This project was fun. Obviously, I want to do it again! If someone you know ha a birthday coming up, or if you’re interested in sporting a one-of-a-kind custom-to-you jacket around over your springtime outfits, let me know! I’m saving up my pennies for new adventures and would love to make more of these made-over jackets. Shoot me an email, text, or call if you’re interested… Or head over to my Etsy page for more info.
firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 5172317
Check out Grace’s jacket and the poem that goes with it!
(Scroll to the bottom for full text)
I used a painting from the internet of Van Gogh’s face made from sunflowers as the inspiration for my own cow painting. I tested the design on paper before moving on to the jacket.
The Painting Process
Painting on denim is much harder than painting on paper, but the embroidery hoop made all the difference by keeping the fabric tight and even.
I used a simple chain stitch for the yellow font, then int back over it with a light blue to give the letters some definition. The sunflowers were made from a daisy stitch with several french knots in the center. Lastly, I added the lace with a simple invisible stitch using waxed thread for extra strength.
The Farm Girl — A Poem
There’s so much more to a being a farm girl than planting of seeds, feeding the livestock, or shoveling poo.
She’s generations of knowledge, technology, and love, too.
Her first steps are barefoot, and her first word is “moo.”
She grows into responsibility and her responsibilities grow too.
She blossoms in innovation as her challenges shoot up as quickly as children do.
Her classroom’s a gallery with exhibits that change with the seasons’ tides.
Each morning deep reds bounce from her silver bucket back into the waking sky.
The water she pours into the trough captures every bead of light, now striped with orange and the promise of blue.
She carries eggs back for breakfast, and they glow pink as the sun ties his tie.
Both she and he are ready for the day: She, with 2 blazing stars in her fry pan, and he, a cheerful yolk in the now-blue sky.
And that’s only the beginning.
By age five, she’s seen her share of life and death
and by seven has come to accept it.
Still, she learns compassion; and aged seventy-five, the death of a newborn calf still makes her cry.
Oh, there is so much life between seven and seventy five!
Years threaded with learning: trying, failing, trying again.
And she’s not at it alone: the animals are her friends.
She buries her nose into her horse’s neck and vents
whispering all that only a horse can understand.
She gets off the bus after a long day at school
Trades her backpack for a shovel, a rake, and other tools.
Her classmates are on the couch watching shows about “real life.”
She’s laying on the milk cow: present, in real time.
They chase soccer balls: she chases the escape-artist calf
They wear name brands: she doesn’t; they laugh.
They ride their bikes to the park to play; she drives the tractor to the field for the rest of the day.
She drives a truck before tall enough for rides at the fair.
Summers are for working, but she doesn’t care. She learns about business, economics, and winning: the weather changes without warning and she learns about losing.
“Life ain’t always fair.”
She’s been kicked in the nose, but she can hold her own
She’s strong from milking and bucking the hay; she won’t lose in arm-wrestling to the boys any day.
Her tongue is sharp from long Grandpa debates; when the girls gang up, her comebacks aren’t late.
On Sunday morning, she swarms the house all denim and grease and tangles in a whirl.
Then she’s back out the door, all swishing and smiles and ribbons and curls.
She talks to God in the tractor, sings about drinking to the herd.
She quotes Mathew and Mark, Waylon, and Merle.
By the end of the month the pantry’s worn thin; she looks in the fridge, bites her tongue, grins.
It’s the end of the day, but she’s not worn out.
She’ll feed the farmhands, the Johnson’s, and the strangers who broke down.
She can set a broken bone, and mend any cut.
Her heart’s as soft as her hands are rough
her touch as gentle as her soul is tough.
The sun goes down, over January, April, September, and June.
Each season a different rhythm she’s got set to a tune.
The stars come out for her first kiss, dance, child, grandchild and every single “last.”
But when the sun lies down to sleep “what’s past is past.”
Blue sky siphons back into pink, into orange and red, finally into black of night.
She thanks her Lord, that in the morning, she can start over again in the last starlight.
Spring 2019, for Grace Alberg, on her 10th Birthday