A while ago I was asked by my client to repair a very much loved flying jacket, he was expecting me to simply patch the lining where the fabric had started to deteriorate with age.
The jacket in question was a leather Nato, RAF flying jacket which was lined with parachute silk printed with a map of Europe, made to aid navigation should the pilot be shot down by the USSR at the height of the Cold War in 1950s Europe. I regard this as an historic garment, clothes being an ephemeral document of history that need to be preserved carefully where possible. I consulted a friend, who produces stunning hand sewn patchwork, for a little advice on the best way to precede because although my hand stitching is immaculate, much older methods are better for this kind of project.
After talking through the nature of this proposal (due to the amount of time it would take) with my client and negotiating a final figure, I made all the repairs to preserve the integrity of the silk and the printed map. Now the jacket will be preserved for many years to come and I hope it will end up in a museum one day, helping explain the hysteria and paranoia of the Cold War to future generations. I don’t do many restoration projects but they are an extremely satisfying privilege when they do come along.