Great 1950s Lee Riders. Half Selvedge denim construction with a Scovill Gripper Zipper zip. This particular pair of jeans measured about 28×28, but had been taken in at the waist and down the outer seams of both legs to construct a slimmer fit. The indigo was still dark, a desirable trait for jeans of this age. See my other Lee Riders post for an example of a slightly later pair.
This Buddy Lee Doll is of the composition variety and measures 13″ head to toe. There are no Buddy Lee markings on the doll body. Clothes bear an early Lee Union Made Label. The overalls, shirt and hat were essentially miniature replicas of actual Lee products as Buddy Lee was in fact a salesman’s sample as well as a promotional tool.
Unfortunately with this doll the paint is rough, almost porous on the body. The arms however are much smoother. Appear to be of a different material than the composition body. Left leg appears to have been repaired. Painted boots are a little chipped up. Right thumb and pinky appear to have been chipped.
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.
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.
Lee Riders, also known as the 101Z debuted in the 1950s and represent a transition from the company’s work wear history in to more casual, mass appeal wears.
On this particular pair the inside Tag is marked: Lee Riders Sanforized Waist 32 Union Made in the USA. The Button back is stamped: R. Zipper is made by Talon. Lee riveted front and coin pockets. “lazy S” stitched on rear pockets. The “branded” Lee patch is long gone. You’ll notice on Lees, unlike Levi’s the selvedge denim self edged appears on only one side of the outer seam.
As with most items from time and place predating the “throw-away age”, these jeans are well-worn and have been mended multiple times. There’s a bout a 4.5″ x 6″ patch on the right thigh. A 2″ x 3″ patch on the left side below the rear pocket. A hole and repair with red thread on the left knee, a small hole forming below the zipper on the right side front, and a 4″ hole in the left cheek with additional wear below. Some white paint and other darker stains. Round out the patina that only time can create.
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.
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*