How do I repurpose/commemorate my dad's favorite belongings?
April 5, 2018 9:41 AM   Subscribe

My dad was a simple guy. He wore the same leather jacket and hat for 30 years. He never was without his class ring and his watch. He died a few years back and while I didn't keep many of his possessions, I kept the few things he wore daily. I can't use them in their current form, I can't toss them, so how should I repurpose them?

I'm looking for suggestions on what to make two of his belongings into: his beaten-to-hell leather jacket, and his class ring.

Jacket: brown leather, cracked, beaten up, with a plaid lining that's partially intact. Ridiculous amount of pockets. Sorta smells like old smoke and staleness. I don't think I would want to use too much square footage of it for whatever I turn it into - preferably something small. Even better if I can make two of them- one for my mom and one for me.

Ring: gold, with fake ruby. much, much too big to actually wear on any of my fingers. I figured maybe I could talk to a jeweler and have it somehow turned into a bracelet?

Photos are in links above. What should I do with these things?
posted by rachaelfaith to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wonder if you could take a piece of the leather jacket and turn it into a coin pouch? I did something similar with a peice of my mom's wedding dress.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 9:45 AM on April 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


Hmm.

There is a kind of remote-control-caddy thingy that's fabric with pockets, and you sling it over the arm of the sofa like it's a pair of saddlebags. Maybe something like that could be made out of the jacket? Use a couple pockets, use some of the lining as the sling part.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:47 AM on April 5, 2018


This might be an idea.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 9:56 AM on April 5, 2018 [6 favorites]


Wow, I love the jacket. You could take it to a sympathetic leather worker, someone who makes bags particularly, and have it made into one or two women's bags/purses pretty easily, I think. I don't think it would be super cheap to do so, but there's a lot of interesting textures and features that would be splendid on a bag. You might find out how to rehabilitate the leather from the internet or from whoever makes something with it.

Can the ring be put aside and just handed down as is, assuming there's someone to take it in turn? Otherwise, a bracelet sounds nice, or it could be set into something, like maybe a walking stick, something like that?
posted by glitter at 9:57 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yes, sorry, should have mentioned - there won't be any future 'heirs' or anything. Only child here, and will not be having any children myself, so this is primarily to be enjoyed during my lifetime :)
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:59 AM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


Shannon South does custom bags from old leather jackets. She could maybe do clutches or pouches if you wanted more than one.
posted by jabes at 10:02 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


If sharing with your mom is not crucial, you could do a shadow box frame and display the jacket, ring, and a photo (or several) together. It's not small, but if it hangs on the wall it won't take up that much room.
posted by Mchelly at 10:05 AM on April 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


A jeweler should be able to resize the ring if you actually want to wear it as-is.
posted by praemunire at 10:07 AM on April 5, 2018


What if you (and/or your mom) did a photo session, maybe with a professional photographer, wearing the jacket? You could do just wacky stuff--wearing it with crazy/incongruous outfits, in wacky places--or you could recreate photos of your dad wearing the jacket, or you could go to his favorite places. You could blow these up and put them in a side by side frame with a photo of your dad, or make an album.
posted by CiaoMela at 10:15 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


What about making the ring into the bottom of a fan or light pull? It looks heavy enough...
posted by answergrape at 10:17 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would hang the ring in one of these.

The coat? I would find a talented seamstress and have a couple cute mini throw pillows.
posted by beccaj at 10:23 AM on April 5, 2018


Do you do any worker type things where you could use a tool belt? The jacket could be turned into a tool belt for gardening, tools, even crafting. It has a pragmatic look so a pragmatic repurposing seems right. It looks like a well loved jacket and it must have been a real part of him for you to select it as one of the things you kept, so keeping that going in your life, aligning it with a love of your own, might be nice.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:27 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


I had an old shirt of my grandfather's that had also been my dad's and then mine, It was destroyed but full of sentiment.

I put it in a shadow box frame and hung it up, arms folded back, bottom tucked up and under. and it's a piece of "art" that always gets comments and compliments.
posted by French Fry at 10:29 AM on April 5, 2018


I have an old sweatshirt that belonged to my grandfather. It hangs in my closet and makes me happy each time I see it.
posted by zzazazz at 10:30 AM on April 5, 2018


Do you do any worker type things where you could use a tool belt?

Yeah, I feel like maintaining the pockety nature of the jacket somehow would be ideal.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:31 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


My first thought was to make leather bolsters out of the sleeves. They'd be a little wonkily shaped, but would be a nice way to remember your dad.

Similar to the tool belt idea, you could make awesome leather and cloth aprons, utilizing the pockets.
posted by jennstra at 10:36 AM on April 5, 2018


I agree that the jacket with its unique wear patterns would make amazing art piece mounted in a shadow box on the wall. Those wear patterns only come from age and can't be replicated.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:42 AM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


+1 on the shadow box idea. I'm thinking of doing something similar with my father's Naval items - take a sleeve/cuff from a uniform jacket and then have a the service ribbons/medals either attached or mounted to the side.

Good luck in designing your display!

SandPine
posted by sandpine at 10:53 AM on April 5, 2018


It would only use a bit of the leather, but I'd make a leather keychain strap. I use my keys everyday, and I'd love to know that I was holding his coat each time.
posted by hydra77 at 11:00 AM on April 5, 2018 [8 favorites]


The ring could be melted down assuming it's real gold (is it?) and a jeweler could make you a new ring or bracelet. If it's brass it wouldn't be as easy to recycle for casting. Or I think you could get a long chain and wear it as a funky necklace!
posted by catrae at 11:03 AM on April 5, 2018


I'm not sure how much you will be able to do with that jacket. The places where it is peeling apart suggests that it's either bicast leather (a thin layer of low-quality leather bonded to a backing and given a surface treatment) or bonded leather (bits of leather fiber amalgamated together, bonded to a backing and given a surface treatment). The point being that the thin outer layer of leather or leather-like material is already significantly degraded and starting to separate from the backing. It's unclear that it would be possible to repurpose any of that material.
posted by slkinsey at 12:18 PM on April 5, 2018


I think it's pretty cool that you're using the ring as a key ring - I'd just stick with that.
posted by Gnella at 12:38 PM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


I asked for my aunt's keychain when she passed. It's pretty and quintessentially her, and we're both single homebodies. So it doesn't just remind me of her, but pulling out my keys at the end of the long day, I remember us.

I like the idea of turning the jacket into quilted throw pillows, which will allow you to maximize yardage. Use a nice neutral back. I think it would be comforting to have something meant to be held and squeezed.

For the watch, if you're unlikely to wear it if it's resized - I'd put that in a shadowbox with a nice photo of him.
posted by politikitty at 1:54 PM on April 5, 2018


Have a look at what Citizen Leather does.
posted by slightlybewildered at 3:17 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would take a big piece of the jacket and have it turned into a shadow box frame and put a picture of him, the ring, and some other piece of memorabilia in it.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:59 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


You could make a leather roll for pens, tools, crochet hooks, makeup brushes etc.
posted by gennessee at 5:30 PM on April 5, 2018


Some other thoughts for leather:

notebook cover
eyeglasses case
tassels (for keys, etc)
bottom of a cloth bag
desk caddy
bracelet
posted by gennessee at 5:36 PM on April 5, 2018


I had wanted to do two identical items from the jacket, but I think I might instead use the tool belt idea for my mom (she's a gardener) and perhaps make a key chain/loop for myself, or coin purse.

Thanks all for the ideas!
posted by rachaelfaith at 6:02 AM on April 6, 2018


I think you should keep using the ring as it appears you are in the pic, as a keyring. Then you get to enjoy it everyday.

i would either hang the jacket in a shadow box, have a bag made out of it, or really just keep it by the door as my gotta run out front in the cold toss on jacket.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:13 AM on April 6, 2018


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