A while back I happened upon a pile of disheveled denim. The markings on the two pair of Levis 501s, a pair of 505s, Penny’s Foremost and Lee Riders dated them to the 1960s. The Lee’s in relatively good shape I sold off almost immediately. The others needing significant repair I held on to knowing at some point I’d have them repaired. Fast forward a few years, I pulled the stack of denim from the closet and studied. Such denim deserved a second life at the hands of a skilled professional, or did it? Having come across jeans that had been lovingly repaired and myself, and having been raised by a mother that sewed and mended many of my childhood clothing, I knew it wasn’t really a question of professionalism, but of utility and resourcefulness. I set out to do what any other mother or miserly person of the day would do and fix them myself.
Again going back to my childhood, I had learned the ins and outs of a sewing machine at a relatively young age. I can thread one properly and work the stitch settings well enough. I chose a pair of the 501s and set about. Now, I’ve patched items regularly over the years, but these were in need more of a reconstruction! I planned for a few minutes and got to work.
Among the pile of denim I found was a leg piece of red line selvedge I would use as my patch. The jeans in question must have been washed after the incident that left them in their dire shape as the fabric was unraveling. I paused, contemplating whether to preserve the tattered edge or clean it off. I opted for the later (which in hind sight, I somewhat regret). After trimming the long weft strings I cut my patch. Pinning it in place would have taken a lot of time and ensuring the two sides lay as they should considering the loss of fabric would have been difficult. I opted to use some fabric glue to make the initial bonding. Also in consideration was to patch the outside or from within. Given the size and severity of the mend I chose an inside patch.
The nature of this break, extending around the leg and up through the crotch made for a challenging fix. I knew early on it wouldn’t be clean, but just figured it would create character.
After allowing for the patches along the back of the leg and crotch to set I made a few additional pinnings and set about sewing. First with a straight stitch to get them in place, then with a series of zig-zag stitches for strength. It was a technique I learned from my mom long before seeing many other pieces repaired in the same way. Rather than try to exactly thread match the denim in color I chose to use some color to personalize my repair.
To finish this fix off I grabbed the closest color match I had to the original Big E yellow thread and sewed a stitch a around the patch, followed by some big zig-zags with some olive green just for fun.
I know with wear this mend will need additional attention and It’s something I look forward to completing. Adding to these nearly 50 year-old jeans history.
The Levi’s Type III Big E Jacket similar style to what is known today as the Trucker Jacket, but with small differences like no side pockets and bright orange thread. The Type III is successor to the Type II and Type I. The jacket is Big E era which makes it pre -1971, Though the style continued on for the remainder of the 70s with the small e tag.
This particular jacket is has a total of seven patches commemorating the great Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta from the 1980s. Back Patches are from 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86 with another undated patch on the right shoulder. The AIBF was started in 1972 and is the world’s largest balloon festival.
Levi’s Big E sevledge 501s, no patch. Double sided LEVI’S red tag. Single stitched back pocket, double coin. Top button marked with an 8.
Not exactly sure the year of manufacture on these jeans, but the lack of rivets on the back pocket and double stitched coin pocket suggests these came towards the end of the big E run. These jeans also have a pretty high-rise from the crotch to top of the jean.
These jeans have that great look only obtained with age. Major holes on the right leg with the knee hole spanning almost seam to seam. Left leg is worn heavily from the bottom of the pocket to the knee. Great denim patches of varying sizes on each leg. Another small hole on the back of left leg an upper right side hip. Crotch wear is not too bad, though there is a small hole. Stitching is complete still. Great whiskering around the crotch. Some stains and some dirt that would probably clean off.
Rise from crotch to top of waist 11.75″ front 15″ back
Top of waist to leg hem 38.25″
Levi’s Big E sevledge 501s, no patch. Double sided LEVI’S red tag. Single stitched back and coin pocket. No markings on button backs. Riveted rear pockets.
These old jeans have a great look to them, but are showing signs of their age. Moderate to heavy wear in the crotch, both front pockets have large holes, about a 3 inch tear in the left knee, lower stitching of the left rear pocket is coming undone (see additional photos link). White staining down the front and back of left leg. Inside rivets have rusted and bled on to pocket lining. Middle three button-fly holes are still intact but are pretty loose when buttoned up.
Wearable as is, but could use a professional cleaning and restoration.
Inseam 28.5 inches
Waist 30.5 inches
Vintage Levi’s second generation 507xx big E selvedge denim jacket.
This jacket is in very nice condition with no holes, rips or snags. Denim is still dark and vibrant with only some lightening at pleats. Selvedge finish down the inside front, red line has since faded out. Stitching still bright and clean. Loose threads along bottom inside hem the only imperfection.
Two breast pockets, no side pockets. Waist compression tabs in the back
- Red pocket tag reads: LEVI’S both sides
- Inside tag reads LOT 507xx SIZE 38
- Riveted cuff seems read L S & CO – SF –
- Buttons read LEVI STRAUSS & CO * S.F. CAL*
Pit to Cuff: 19 inches
Shoulder seem to Shoulder seem: 19.5 inches
Collar seem to bottom hem: 22.5 inches