On 100th birthday, Martha Mabe is on the job — sewing on embroidered patches

Working at London [OH] store each day is her ‘fountain of youth’

By Gary Brock – gbrock@civitasmedia.com
This month’s Patchplace is an article from the Troy Daily News in Troy, OH

 


Martha Jane Mabe works on a London High School jacket at the Mabe’s Clothing and Athletic Apparel store on South Main Street in London. (photos by Gary Brock | The Madison Press)

LONDON, Ohio — Martha Jane Mabe sat in front of her Consew sewing machine, carefully applying the school patch to the London High School jacket.

It was Wednesday afternoon, May 17 at Mabe’s Clothing and Athletic Apparel, the downtown London business that has been a part of her family for almost a hundred years.

It was a special day for Martha, and she said she was determined to be on the job that day of all days. Wednesday was her 100th birthday.

“I wanted to be able to work on my 100th birthday … if possible. It is very important to me. I wanted to make sure that no one made me do it, not my kids — nobody. I wanted to do what I want to do,” she said. “I did this all on my own.”

Carefully turning the London track and soccer varsity jacket on the sewing machine and applying the sports letters and patches, Martha talked with pride about her family’s business and her desire to work each day.

Born Martha Jane Moody in Madison County, she has lived here almost all her 100 years. “I was born on Xenia Road just outside of town and lived there practically my whole life.”

The business has been part of their family since 1919, just a couple of years after she was born. Her husband, Robert, was a partner in the company with founder Wilber Hume. Martha’s children are: David, Robert, Rebekah, and James, who has passed away; 10 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandson.

On her 100th birthday, Martha didn’t hesitate to discuss her years of working at the family business. But all the while she continued to work on the London High School jacket. She said that sometimes threading the needle can be a challenge when she starts her work. “I sometimes have to ask Dave (her son and owner) for help,” she said. But on her birthday, her eyesight was sharp. “Well, I was lucky. I got it on the first try,” she said, and started work on the many patches that adorn the cloth and leather jacket.

All the time she talked, the sewing machine continued to whir and she moved the jacket around, taking care to get the patches and sport letters in the right locations. “You have to pull the lining and everything. It can be bulky.” She pointed out that she once sewed and embroidered a 5XL jacket. “That’s the largest jacket I have ever done.”

She says all the jackets she sews and embroiders are different. “It usually takes three to four hours for each one.”

She has been doing the sewing and embroidery work from about 1970. “I do this because I enjoy doing it. I used to do all the embroidery work by hand, on the hand machine. But not any more. I just don’t have the time.”

About a month ago, she took a fall and injured her back. She was off a few weeks, but said her time away from the daily routine of work took its toll on her. “I can see people staying at home and getting stagnant. But that wasn’t for me.”

She said she would never consider not working as long as her health allowed.

That’s no surprise to her son David, who runs the South Main Street business.

“She is very down to earth. She appreciates hard work and loyalty,” he said. “She tries to help people out as much as she can. She is very sharp. Physically she is in very good shape. She comes here to work about three hours a day.” He said she just gave up driving her car a few months ago. “It was her call. She just didn’t think she had the strength in her legs to apply the brakes. She had a pretty defined path or home to here (the store) and back.”

He said he is very proud of his mother. “Not everyone has a chance to work with their mother for 43 years. I see her about 300 days a year. She is just a wonderful person. She helped me with raising my kids. She was always there for all of us, helping in every way she can.”

He said it is her daily sewing and embroidery work at their store that has “kept her going the last 20 years or so. My father passed away when he was 69, and the work has kept her motivated.” He said working at the store has always been her call.

“It is her fountain of youth, her magic elixir. Instead of sitting at home, working has been good for her physically and mentally. She worked all of her life, there wasn’t much time for vacations.”

He said she is, “One of a kind. I’ve never known anyone like her and I don’t think there will ever be anyone like her,” he added.

When asked about the future, Martha paused and thought a moment.

She said she may stop coming in to work every day, “Probably this fall.” But she don’t want to call it a retirement.

“I just do as I feel. I come when I feel like it, every day,” she said.

When she is not doing the store’s sewing and embroidery work, what does she enjoying doing? “I used to love getting out and mowing. I do a lot of thinking while I’m mowing,” she said.

Her advise to those wanting to live a long life? “Always stay busy. That is what has been best for me. It is very easy to get stagnant and not do anything. If you enjoy what you are doing and you are helping someone, then do it. I can see people saying that when they retire, they just don’t do anything. But I don’t want to be that way. I want to be self-sufficient and do as much as I can and take care of things,” she said.

She said she never smoked, never drank any alcohol. She added that longevity ran in her family, with a number of siblings living into their 90s.

“I have worked all my life. I feel work never hurts anybody.”

She said the London community has been very good to them and their business. “I always to try to buy everything I can from London businesses,” she said during an informal birthday gathering Wednesday that included Mayor Pat Closser and members of the Downtown London Association, who brought a cake to celebrate her 100 years.

Son Robert Mabe echoed his mother’s feelings about the London community. “We owe this community a debt we can never repay.”

 

Martha Jane Mabe sits at her work station at Mabe’s Clothing and Athletic Apparel in downtown London Wednesday (May 10, 2017)on her 100th birthday. She said she wanted to work on her birthday, a job she says she’s been doing almost every day since about 1970.

 

Embroidered Patches Show Artistic Talent of U.S. Drug Cops

 

green airHere at The Chicago Embroidery Company, we’ve made a variety of law enforcement patches over the years, but this piece from Christopher Ingraham, originally published on Washington Post’s Wonkblog, shows how the DEA and other agencies have used embroidered emblem artistry to showcase their varied missions.

On one patch, from the DEA’s Cocaine Intelligence Unit, cocthe Grim Reaper sits on a bomb and does cocaine. On a patch made for the DEA’s International Conference on Ecstasy and Club Drugs, he goes to a rave holding glow-sticks and a pacifier. Other patches feature dragons, unicorns, camels and bald eagles swooping down on marijuana plants, talons outstretched.

Federal agencies began adopting patches in the 1970s, according to Raymond Sherrard, a retired special agent with the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division. Sherrard is the author of “The eradEncyclopedia of Federal Law Enforcement Patches,” generally considered to be the bible of the federal patch collecting community. It contains thousands of color photos of federal agency patches and was compiled by Sherrard with the assistance of hundreds of collectors, law enforcement officers and organizations.

In the 1970s, Sherrard says, different federal law enforcement agencies began to team up to tackle big cases. In his own IRS division, which investigated drug traffickers and money launderers, “we had probably dozens of people from different agencies, most of whom had never seen each other before,” he told me. When raiding suspected drug operations, the agents needed a quick visual way to identify one another. “In the ’70s, everyone looked like drug dealers,” he said, commenting on the style of an era distinguished by long hair, mustaches and flamboyant fashions.ecstasy

So the offices started making custom “raid jackets” with the seals of the respective agencies on them. “As time went on, there were more and more task forces created,” Sherrard said. “Pretty soon every federal agency had all these patches.”

The patches soon began to evolve beyond their original purpose. These patches are often not produced in an official capacity, or with the knowledge or approval of an agency’s higher-ups. In his book, Sherrard writes that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of “commemorative, anniversary, special unit, ‘giveaway’ and local team patches, many of which are unknown or unapproved by headquarters.”tech

Many of the DEA patches likely fall into this category. A DEA spokesman, who declined to be quoted by name in discussing the issue in an interview, said the patches are typically designed and paid for by the agents themselves. “They reflect an esprit de corps, used as a memento, or a token of gratitude to other officers” who help with major missions, he said. The agency itself only commissions and pays for official DEA seals and badges.

DEA IntellSome patches celebrate the completion of a major initiative, such as the patch for Operation Green Air, a partnership between the DEA and FedEx to bust a major marijuana smuggling operation in 2000. Others are given to cooperating local agencies as tokens of appreciation. “Most are never worn,” Sherrard writes, “but are used in displays or sewn onto a baseball cap, or simply kept in binders. Some are very collectible.”

Fred Repp Jr. is an active duty officer with the Bureau of Prisons in New Jersey. He runs Fred’s Patch Corner, a site for buying, selling and trading patches online. He’s particularly interested in the narcotics patches, especially ones that come from task forces overseas.Kabul

“DEA agents are in Afghanistan right now, working with local police to destroy poppy fields,” he told me. “Those patches are being produced in such low numbers by the teams, you might have 12 guys,” which means 12 patches, maybe a couple of spares. On such overseas assignments, Repp said, patches are usually manufactured on-site by locals. Patches produced in such small quantities are hard to come by.

“The whole thing about collecting is the seeking out,” Repp said. “A lot of guys have a story about how they came across something for their collection.”

There are as many different types of patch collectors as there are patches. Some, like Repp, are interested in patches from a particular agency or task force. Others only collect patches shaped like states, or that contain representations of birds.heat

There’s a brisk trade in DEA patches on eBay, and on the sites of individual collectors like Repp. Sherrard, the author, estimates that there are about 20,000 different federal law enforcement patch designs, some more sought-after than others. He’s known some of these to sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, although most sell for $5 to $10.

Sherrard says patches from FBI hostage rescue teams are among the most sought-after, because only a few are ever made. Patches from the CIA and NSA are also difficult to come by, because teams in these agencies are highly protective of them and don’t typically give them to people outside the organization.

“Most of the collectors are cops,” Sherrard said. “They’re either active or retired.” But some people collect the patches for other reasons.

“A reflection of the mentality of law enforcement”

Larry Kirk, a police chief in Old Monroe, Mo., has closely followed the patch trend. He was initially interested in the special unit patches. “I was interested in the culture behind them — it’s kind of a neat story,” he said. But in the past 10 years or so, he’s noticed a change in the iconography used on many law enforcement patches, even at the local level.forfeit

Many have “become reminiscent of military unit patches,” he said. “A lot of them are very aggressive, some of them have skulls, rattlesnakes, vipers. … It’s another sign of that warrior soldier mindset now that’s throughout law enforcement.” As law enforcement agencies have increasingly adopted military weapons and tactics, the patches suggest that they seem to be embracing military iconography as well.

Asked about this pattern, the DEA spokesman said that on some patches, “you’ll see the specter of death because drug abuse is dangerous. It reflects the dangers of drug abuse and the violence associated with drug trafficking.”

Other patches celebrate controversial practices and programs. The DEA’s asset forfeiture program, for instance, has allowed law enforcement agencies to seize millions of dollars in cash and property from citizens without charging them with crimes. The practice has come under criticism from lawmakers in both parties and was recently sharply curtailed by the Justice Department. The program’s patch contains the slogan, “You make it, we’ll take it.”dal

Surveillance themes also show up in a lot of narcotics patches. In the DEA Technical Operations patch, above, a scorpion with a radio dish for a tail listens in on signals from a nearby cellphone tower under an arc of lightning bolts. This type of imagery may not play well with members of the public who are concerned about the federal government monitoring their communications.

Some law enforcement agencies are “painting the picture that this is some type of war, on crime, or gangs, or drugs,” Kirk said. “It’s a reflection of these units taking on paramilitary ideas. It’s definitely a change in the culture that started taking place in the mid-’90s until now.”imrs

“Reminders of the absurdity we are up against”

For some, the patches have come to represent the excesses of the drug war. Aaron Malin is the director of research for Show-Me Cannabis, an organization working to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in Missouri and a critic of Missouri’s drug task forces.  “When I first saw some of these patches, I didn’t think they could be real,” he said in an interview. “But after spending the last year and a half investigating the horrific ways in which the drug war is carried out, they don’t seem inconsistent with the mindsets of the officers who wear them.” (For many years, Missouri led the nation in methamphetamine busts as numerous state’s drug tasks forces sought to address abuse of the drug.)

One patch for a DEA Maryland Metro Area Task Force depicts a bloody skull impaled on a sword against a background of the Maryland flag. The skull holds a set of scales between its teeth.

A patch from DEA’s “First Virginia Cavalry,”  which operated out of Roanoke, Va. vrgin the late ’80s and early ’90s, shows a skull wearing a cowboy hat featuring crossed hypodermic needles against a Confederate flag background.

Sherrard notes that nowadays the DEA “is a much more politically correct agency than in the past” and that the patches are used less frequently. But Malin says the extreme imagery “represents a manifestation of the most absurd levels of the drug war. I more or less collect them as reminders of the absurdity we are up against.”

Not for public consumption

The other important point to consider is that many patches are essentially private documents, made by law enforcement officers for law enforcement officers. “They’re made as collectibles,” Sherrard says. They’re for internal morale-boosting and team-building. Officers from different agencies trade them with one another, “like a business card in some ways,” Sherrard says.strik

When we talk about large federal agencies like the DEA, it’s easy to forget that every monolithic bureaucracy is composed, essentially, of individuals.

It’s one thing to dismiss the asset forfeiture program as terrible policy, for instance. But it’s another to remember that the individual agents who carry out that policy are, in many ways, just regular people doing a job they’ve been assigned. Field agents don’t write policy — Congress does. Why wouldn’t we expect the people who carry out that policy to take pride in their work, and to wear that pride on their sleeve?
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You don’t have to be a drug cop to get a cool embroidered patch, we’ll work with you to create a distinctive emblem for your group, team, business, club (or police department). Check us out at www.c-emblem.com , e-mail to sales@c-emblem.com or call us 312/664-4232. For more than 127 years, The Chicago Embroidery Company has been creating this beautiful, vibrant art with only fabric, a needle and thread.

Bike Week visitors patch up for Daytona rides

A Patchplace reader sent this nice story about the importance of embroidered patches to bikers and Bike Week, written by Casmira Harrison of the Daytona Beach [Fla.] News-Journal:

Posted Mar 15, 2017 at 4:34 PM Updated Mar 16, 2017 at 11:46 AM

By Casmira Harrison

DAYTONA BEACH — The return home from Vietnam was so emotionally taxing, for years biker Jules Shubuck kept his military service mostly to himself.bike weeks day

“I was in the closet, so to speak,” Shubuck said. Then, in 2006, he rode from California to Washington D.C., to the Vietnam Memorial. During the “Run for the Wall,” Shubuck rode with veterans and met others along the way. Connecting with his brothers helped him regain pride in his military service, and he bought a Vietnam service patch at the Wall.

As part of the 76th Annual Bike Week, Shubuck is wearing that service patch in a place of honor — over his heart. People see the patch and connect with him.

“I have reached out to so many veterans here on the street that saw the patch that were also there,” said Shubuck, recollecting how they welcomed each other home. “It was kind of rough when we came home.”

Shubuck arrived from Pennsylvania with others from Murrysville Alliance Church to hand out Bibles along Main Street. He pointed to his church patch as his favorite, but says his Patriot Guard Rider patch is a close second. Patriot Guard Riders attend the funerals of fallen U.S. servicemen and servicewomen to show respect and have in the past guarded military families from protest groups.bike week day

Patches — and the traditions they’re steeped in — are a staple of Bike Week. For some, the real estate on a vest — or cut — is a sacred space reserved for those pieces of stitched fabric, earned over time in a motorcycle club. But for many others who roll into the motorcycle mecca each March, the trip isn’t complete until they’ve solidified it with a new patch.

One of the busiest places for patches during Bike Week is PatchStop, which has six locations: two on Main, two at Daytona Beach International Speedway and two at Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona, said Office Manager Cristina Kibler. Its home base is on the second floor of an office on Main Street.

By the time the last biker rides away from Volusia County, PatchStop expects to sell between 10,000 and 15,000 patches at just one of the Main Street locations, Kibler said.

“Everybody buys about 3 pieces each time and we usually average about 300 to 400 sales each day,” Kibler said, adding that many of those have been patriotic, political or pro-gun. “Right now, one of the biggest things that we’re selling would be the Second Amendment patches,” she said.

But patch vendors don’t survive on Daytona’s Bike Week alone. Rallies are a nationwide occurrence and the PatchStop crew will barely get a break before Kibler and her team split into two teams and head to to Leesburg Bikefest and the Laughlin, Nevada, River Run.

“We’re on the road four to six weeks at a time,” said Kibler, who estimates they attend about 25 rallies a year.

Patches = storiesbike weeeek

Neil Durfey chose a few more patches to add to his vest, including the official Bike Week 2017 patch. He brought his bike down from Buffalo, New York, and will be heading back to the frigid north soon.

“I collect every time I come,” said Durfey, who also snared one with a masonic logo and adding that that one had a more sentimental meaning. “My dad was a mason,” Durfey said.

Like Durfey’s and Shubuck’s, each person’s patches contain stories.

PatchStop seamstress Heather Williams has heard a ton in her six years sewing them on for customers, and she loves when someone finds something they’ve been looking for.

“There was a guy last night. He was a firefighter in 9/11. He walked in and saw this patch up at the top,” Williams said, pointing to a patch with the number 343 embroidered on a firefighter’s helmet and gas mask along with the job’s tools of the trade. “His wife walked in and she started bawling.”

“There’s so many, many, many examples of stuff like that,” Williams said, wishing aloud how she’d like to video record each time she heard a memorable story at her sewing machine.

Colors outlawed

On a ride along Main Street this year, one might notice something conspicuously absent from the landscape.

The brand of the outlaw biker — denoted by the “1%” patch worn over the heart — was a rare sight. In fact, a large percentage of Main Street gawkers and partiers replaced the motorcycle club cuts with Harley Davidson sweatshirts and plain, black leather.

“Big Ben” Bowers, a member of the Leathernecks motorcycle club out of Central Florida, was one of the few wearing his colors on Main with a few of his club members.

“You know why, right?” said Bowers. “Because we’re not welcome.”

Bowers was referring to the “No Colors” rule for bars on Main. While occasionally you’ll see a few motorcycle clubs sporting their territory on their cut, the emblems are usually stowed away in bikes for a Daytona Beach run.

Bowers said even though his is a military club — United States Marine Corps, to be specific — as long as the vest is a club cut, he can’t wear it in a bar. “But we’re not going into a bar,” he said. “We’re just hanging out here.”

Too many patches?

Beyond signifying the solemn loyalty to biker clubs, patches have different meanings for different people.

“It’s about experiences,” said Larry Watkins, who was visiting Daytona from Port St. Lucie. After moving south, he noted he needs to replace his Maryland patch with a Florida one.

He also has a patch from his time stationed in the Philippines. He likes that one because that’s where he met his wife. “For everybody, it means something different,” Watkins said.

Joe Miller, who two weeks ago moved to Daytona Beach from Ohio, said he has four vests.

He has an entire vest dedicated to his involvement with the Patriot Riders, another for “odd sayings,” and yet another for his Air Force service.

The service vest is where his favorite patch lives.

“It’s in memory of my father,” Miller said. “He was in the Army for 13 years. Served in the Korean War and died of complications from Agent Orange.”

bike-week-daytona-florida-20140308

Denver artist designs NASA patch for Rodent Research IV mission

nasa_patch_7color_stickerHere at The Chicago Embroidery Company, we’ve written about space patches before, and really enjoyed the following article by  Tamara Chung of the Denver Post:

When Denver resident Doug Kacena was a freshman at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1994, his older sister, Melissa, asked for a favor.

“I needed a whole bunch of hands to take measurements of bacteria every two hours,” recalls Melissa Kacena, who was working on her master’s degree at the same school.

The bacteria project wound up on Space Station Mir and Kacena went on to get her Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at CU Boulder and did post-doctoral work at Yale University. The younger Kacena? He dropped out of the molecular cellular developmental biology program to major in art. He’s now a ground-breaking abstract artist who recently challenged traditional artists to give him paintings so he could paint over them.

More than 20 years later, Melissa Kacena asked her brother for another favor.

The siblings reunited on a project that is headed for space on Saturday. Melissa Kacena is currently in Cape Canaveral, Fla., prepping 40 mice for a trip to the International Space Station. They’ll be studied as part of a bone recovery experiment. She tapped her brother to design the official patch for the team’s space mission, the Rodent Research IV.

“It was an incredible honor to be asked to do it,” said Doug Kacena. “I did it before anyone had a chance to rethink it.”

Embroidered patches with personal stories have been a part of NASA’s history since 1965. But most patches don’t make it into the public eye — or even NASA space stores — and no one seems to know how many patches exist.nasa-apollo

“I would estimate about 200 to 250 total, and that doesn’t take into account the patches designed by the customers (military, commercial and NASA) that rode on those launches,” said Robert Pearlman, editor at collectSPACE, which is full of key moments in space history.

The space agency lets mission participants design their own patches for team-bonding purposes, according to Bill Barry, NASA’s chief historian. But NASA only keeps track of patches from official trips, which include all manned missions, shuttle launches and select others — or about 160 since the first patch was used in 1965. NASA makes the taxpayer-funded designs available to the public, so anyone can create one. NASA prefers to stick to its blue and white logo.

“NASA’s view is that multiple images dilute the brand,” Barry said. “We use the NASA logo for all communication purposes.”

But Barry understands the affinity for space mission patches.

“When I was a kid back in the ’60s, I had a complete collection of all the Apollo mission patches,” Barry said. “And I was crushed when I learned as an adult that they weren’t real. …The crew-sized ones were bigger.”

The custom began in 1965 with the Gemini 5. Astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad were preparing for an eight-day orbit around Earth and wanted “a Conestoga wagon and stenciled on the side, ‘8 Days or Bust’,” said Barry. “Both of those guys were fun-loving characters. Let’s put it that way.”NASA's first official patch to commemorate a trip to space, the Gemini 5.

NASA didn’t want to risk criticism if the mission was shorter or longer than eight days. They approved the patch, but not the wording. That was covered up by a piece of white cloth. And from then on, space mission patches became a thing — as long as NASA gave its approval.

But unofficial patches don’t have to follow any guidelines since they are not used for official NASA communication, Barry said. There could be multiple patches for the same launch if multiple parties are involved.nasa-8-days

Private companies like SpaceX and United Launch Alliance have made their own mission patches. spacex_f1_001_first_flight_splOther government agencies that have launched satellites also have created patches, including the elusive U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. Theories abound as to what the secretive satellites were intended for, with mystery patches to boot. One patch for the NROL-35 mission has a purple-haired wizard holding a trident and ball of fire. Another, for a 2011 launch, shows a bird engulfed in flames with an American flag in the background and Latin words that translate to “Better the devil you know,” according to the Smithsonian.

One popular patch was worn by the crew that launched the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers in 2003. Entertainment company Warner Bros. worked with the Air Force to create patches for each rover, one featured Marvin The Martian, the other Daffy Duck as Duck Dodgers.

Even astronaut classes have their own patches, like the astronaut class of 1990. The 13th class played on the unlucky number by picking a black cat and calling themselves, the Hairballs.

Research teams like Rodent Research IV have jumped at the chance to design their own patches.

That brings us back to Melissa Kacena, now a professor of orthopaedic surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine. She’s been working with her students for more than three years on a method that helps bone fractures heal while a person is “weightless,” via crutches or recuperating in bed. That’s hard to test with mice, who don’t like to stay still even when asked nicely, she said.

Bone fractures actually heal better with exercise, which increases bone strength. But walking on a fracture doesn’t help the bone-healing process if a metal or hardware implant is involved.

“If all your body weight goes into the implant, it will eventually fail. You need the bone to start growing before the implant fails,” she said.nasa-russ

With support from the U.S. Department of Defense, the project becomes the fourth to send mice into space. Astronauts at the space station will help with the research before sending everything back to Earth after four weeks.

“We’re going to learn so much about the bone-healing process,” she said, important because “there’s a really good chance that astronauts will get a fracture if they go to Mars.”

“Astronauts lose about 1 to 3 percent of bone density each month in space,” she said. “A person with osteoporosis loses 1 percent a year. … If you lose (bone mass) going to Mars, there’s an increased risk of fractures. We need to know how to heal.”

After asking her team to come up with patch designs, they turned to her brother, Doug, who created a fairly straightforward design. The Rodent Research IV patch shows a nasa_patch_7color_stickersilhouette of a mouse, its tail tucked underneath a strand of DNA. A galaxy of stars is in the background while the SpaceX Dragon capsule floats near the patch’s edge.

The embroidered patch is scheduled to hitch a ride Saturday on the SpaceX Dragon during its CRS-10 cargo resupply mission to the ISS, a trip originally set for last summer.

Before the group packed up its gear and headed to Florida, Melissa Kacena talked to her team.

“I told them that not everyone has these kinds of opportunities to work with NASA,” she said. “I reminded them when I was a grad student, working with NASA really inspired me and opened doors. …Hopefully they will solve the problems of tomorrow.”

Don’t Need “Snowpocalypse” To Create Your Own Embroidered Patch

Here at The Chicago Embroidery Company in the Windy City, we know a thing or two about snow.  But while we just finished the least snowy January here in 117 years, we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the city’s largest ever snowstorm, 23 inches on Jan. 25-26, 1967.

Our friends in Boise, Idaho, have been deluged with the white stuff this year, and have the right idea, commemorating the event with this cool Snowpocalypse embroidered patch.snow1

This story, written by Katy Moeller of the Idaho Statesman, tells how the idea for a special patch came about.  The woman who designed the emblem, Chrysa Rich, is selling the patches, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.

Don’t have an epic snowstorm in your area?  You can commmemorate ANY special event or occasion with a unique embroidered patch.  Here at The Chicago Embroidery Company, we’ve helped customers create patches for birthdays, weddings, golf outings, bike rides and many other events.  Send us your design, even in rough form, and our art department can help you produce an embroidered masterpiece for less than you may expect.  Contact us at sales@c-emblem.com, visit our website, www.c-emblem.com , or call 312/664-4232.

 

Taking Embroidered Emblems Off Your Clothes?

We were amused by  Khadeeja Safdar’s recent story in the Wall St. Journal about consumers removing logos from their branded sportswear.  Seems like a lot of work, why not just cover up the obnoxious company logo with a cool embroidered patch?

Crocodiles (and Polo Ponies) Go Missing as Scalpel-Wielding Consumers Revolt

Since its debut in 1926, the Lacoste crocodile has adorned polo shirts on everyone from the brand’s tennis-star founder to President John F. Kennedy.

Yet you won’t likely find one on Max Ilich. The 47-year-old consultant has extracted the iconic reptilian from at least 10 of his Lacoste shirts. “It’s a tricky surgery,” he said. “But I was pleased with the results.”

Mr. Ilich, who lives in Hampton, N.H., borrowed a scalpel from an ex-girlfriend, a surgeon, to cut out the embroidered crocodile without tearing through the fabric. Then he washed the shirts about four times to hide his work.

He wears Lacoste shirts because of their quality but finds logos “pretentious,” he said, and resents being used as a marketing platform.

“Why would I do someone else’s advertising for free?” Mr. Ilich said.

A branding backlash has some people working hard to remove logos and names from their clothes and accessories. Blogs and online discussion forums offer tips on scratching off the Ray-Ban logo from lenses, peeling away the Ralph Lauren emblem from new pairs of leather shoes and using a felt-tip marker to hide the Under Armour symbol on sports gear.

For embroidered logos, some brand-phobics use a seam ripper—a small tool for unpicking stitches—but the method is time consuming. Each thread has to be pulled out carefully to keep the underlying fabric pristine.

Vinyl logos attached to sportswear are particularly challenging. Some people have tried to dissolve them with nail polish remover. Others just wear the garments inside out.

“This isn’t a trend we’re seeing with Ray-Ban,” said a spokesperson with Luxottica, the company that owns the brand. Ralph Lauren and Under Armour declined to comment.

In the 1990s and 2000s, consumers flashed brand names with pride. Some shoppers now, though, shun such uniformity and prefer unlabeled clothing, which has prompted a few logo-heavy brands to shift course.

“Nobody wants to be branded anymore,” said Aaron Levine, head designer for Abercrombie & Fitch.

Gabrielle Gutierrez, 33 years old, said Abercrombie shirts were an ideal fit, but she didn’t want to display the brand’s moose insignia. “It was a bit of a dilemma,” said the neuroscientist, who lives in Seattle.

Ms. Gutierrez said she learned one way to “de-Abercrombie-ify” her shirts. She bought iron-on patches from the clearance bin at a Jo-Ann fabric store to cover the Abercrombie moose. Her shirts now have eyeballs, smiley faces and palm trees, a style she described as “personalized and subversive.”

Abercrombie recently launched a marketing campaign and changed its logo to cultivate a new image for its clothing line, after its highly sexualized branding began to alienate too many buyers.

Ms. Gutierrez hasn’t revisited an Abercrombie store since the change. She stopped shopping there because the logo kept getting “bigger and bigger,” she said. “It became impossible to cover.”

Research shows that midtier brands often have the loudest logos because their buyers want to signal wealth. Seasoned luxury shoppers may prefer more subtle branding.

“People in the know can recognize a high-end brand from the little things such as the stitching,” said Barbara Kahn, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, who dismissed logo removal as “ludicrous.”

Discerning shoppers who can identify a Brooks Brothers shirt from the six-pleat shirring at the cuffs or an Alden loafer from its distinctive stitching are “part of your tribe,” said Jerrod Swanton, age 37, of Springfield, Ohio.

eyeball-patch-afGabrielle Gutierrez used an eyeball patch to cover the Abercrombie & Fitch logo on a shirt. PHOTO: GABRIELLE GUTIERREZ

He writes a clothes blog called Oxford Cloth Button Down and said he prefers not to advertise how much he spends on clothing or where he shops. “It is becoming more and more challenging to find articles of clothing without the logos,” Mr. Swanton said.

He and several of his blog readers shared their disapproval, for example, when Brooks Brothers added a logo to one of its classic sweaters.

“Some styles come with logo and others without,” said Arthur Wayne, a spokesman for Brooks Brothers. “We leave it to the customer to decide.”

Lacoste was a pioneer in logo-branded clothing. By the 1980s, its shirts had become staples of preppy wardrobes, and its tiny green crocodiles seemed to spawn Ralph Lauren ponies, Tommy Bahama marlins and Abercrombie’s moose.

Professional tennis player Rene Lacoste was nicknamed “The Crocodile” after he won an alligator-skin suitcase in a wager with the French Davis Cup captain, the company said, and the logo first appeared on his blazer.

lacoste-croc

French tennis player Rene Lacoste wearing a blazer embroidered with a crocodile motif. PHOTO: TOPICAL PRESS AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Nothing personal, Mr. Ilich said, but he just doesn’t want it showing on his Lacoste shirts.

Lacoste said no executive was available to comment.

Jeff Taxdahl, owner of Thread Logic, a custom logo embroidery company based in Minneapolis, has a warning for logo tamperers. “Unless you’re fairly skilled at it, you would destroy the shirt,” he said. “And once you get the threads out, the outline of the image may still exist due to the needle holes.”

That is a risk some shoppers are willing to take. Ian Connel, 33 years old, who lives near St. Paul, Minn., said he tried it out on an Abercrombie shirt.

“I don’t want to be seen in their stores, let alone wear the moose,” he said, though he likes the brand’s snug fit.

He turned the shirt inside out and painstakingly removed each thread. “It has a few small holes,” he said, “but it’s still better than having the logo.”

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The Chicago Embroidery Company, in business since 1890, can help clothing manufacturers and others create distinctive emblems that consumer will want to wear, not scrape off.  Visit them at www.c-emblem.com , sales@c-emblem.com , or call 312/664-4232.

From Alia Bhatt to Parineeti Chopra: How celebs are wearing the ’90s embroidered patch

This originally appeared in Indian Express, showing the embroidered patch as a world-wide fashion phenomena!

If you are a follower of trends, then you probably know by now how fashionistas around the world have rekindled their romance with the ’90s. We are nearing the end of 2016 but crop tops are still big and so are chokers. Another trend which has managed to make waves is the embroidered patch. Considered as an emblem of one’s individuality, this trend which initially started as a DIY tip is still preferred to give a quirky and youthful spin to an otherwise sombre look.

Considering how updated young style icons of Bollywood are, it’s not surprising to see them embracing this trend. Lead by the bubbly and vivacious Alia Bhatt, other celebs like Parineeti Chopra, Esha Gupta and Amy Jackson are following suit. Here’s a look at how they rocked the trend.

indian-jacqueline-fernandez21Jacqueline Fernandez in Ikai by Ragini Ahuja. (Source: Varinder Chawla)

Denim-on-denim is not an easy combination to pull off but Jacqueline Fernandez did more than well with the wide leg trousers, a denim crop top and a beautiful denim duster jacket with whimsical patches. She picked this look from Ikai by Ragini Ahuja.

indian-alia2-bhatAlia Bhatt in a cute patchwork dress. (Source: Varinder Chawla)

Alia Bhatt has been seen flaunting applique patches on her jackets, crop tops and shorts on several occasions. Here, the actress is seen in a comfy denim dress to beat travel blues.

indian-esha-1-ghuptaEsha Gupta shows us how to look sexy in denim patchwork shirt. (Source; Instagram/Sanjana Batra)

Esha Gupta gave us a masterclass on how to look chic by teaming a patchwork shirt with a pencil skirt. Perfect for a casual evening or even, a lunch meeting!

indian-amy1-jacksonAmy Jackson rocks an embroidered patch denim from Koovs. (Source: Instagram/Amy Jackson)

Amy Jackson was seen working really, really hard on her street style and we can easily say that she has taken it to the next level! The red bomber jacket from Adidas looks so good with those quirky denims from Koovs. Maybe, because that patch-work jeans is a thing of beauty but still, she wore it well.

At The Chicago Embroidery Company, we can help you create quantities of patches in your own custom designs.  Visit our website at http://www.c-emblem.com, send your image to sales@c-emblem.com or call us at 312/664-4232.