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NASA CHAIN STITCH TEES

APRIL 5, 2021

One of Alpha Industries’ most exciting projects this year is the expansion of Operation RE: Supply, a project begun last year with the goal of sourcing vintage and deadstock military items from around the world and giving them a new life. Not only is this approach more environmentally conscious, it gives military fashion enthusiasts a chance to add authentic and unique military pieces to their wardrobe.

As part of this project, we’re launching NASA RE:Supply, a collection of true vintage NASA tees from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s. Following the Alpha Industries tradition of celebrating the historic achievements of the Space Age, as exemplified in our NASA bomber jackets and tees, we’ve assembled a collection of vintage T-shirts with a variety of space-themed graphics. These include graphics depicting missions flown by the Space Shuttles Atlantis, Endeavour, and Discovery, as well as a range of shirts representing NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA CHAIN STITCH TEE DETAIL

NASA CHAIN STITCH TEE DETAIL

NASA CHAIN STITCH TEE DETAIL

An especially prominent feature of these tees is the custom designs and hand embroidery done by Jamie Wong Paoletti, owner of LA-based vintage store Raggedy Threads. With colorful stitching and unique details, her additions to the NASA tees capture a certain flair that makes them truly special.

Jamie is no stranger to handling and caring for vintage items. She got her start in the late ‘90s at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, working as a vendor for a local LA thrift store. In 2002, she founded Raggedy Threads, which now has locations in LA’s Little Tokyo Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. For the past 20 years, Jamie has been traveling far and wide in search of good quality vintage pieces, ranging from sturdy workwear and denim to Victorian lace dresses. Jamie's eye for one-of-a-kind Americana and accessories has made her stores a go-to for stylists and designers, as well as vintage collectors.

STACK OF NASA CHAIN STITCH TEES

For the NASA RE:Supply collab, Jamie drew inspiration from research on old NASA graphics and quotes from the ‘50s to the ‘70s, enjoying the mixing of aesthetics from different eras. She used a technique called chain stitching, which involves looping one continuous thread back on itself to form a distinctive chain-like pattern. Chain stitches are traditionally used to hem jeans, but the thick roping effect it creates poses an opportunity for fun patterns and designs.

With her NASA inspiration and years of experience repairing and darning old denim by hand, Jamie was able to create a unique design for each NASA tee. Some of these include iconic quotes, like “One giant leap for mankind” stitched in blue cursive around an STS-118 Endeavour graphic print, or creatively chosen lyrics like “Fly me to the moon” stitched around an image of a launching rocket on a Kennedy Space Center tee. On another Kennedy Space Center tee, Jamie opted for accent stitching around each letter of the word “DISCOVERY” to create a rainbow-like effect.

“I think it took me longer to decide on the design than to actually embroider it,” Jamie recalls. “Once I was in the flow, it was easy to finish in a few hours.”

Even so, she would often redo parts of the shirt or change the thread colors midway. Since chain stitching is done by hand, it allowed for this kind of freedom. “Sewing by hand feels more personal and feels more free to do different stitches along the way,” Jamie says.

NASA CHAIN STITCH TEES

She was first introduced to chain stitching by her friend Lilly Lampe, cofounder of the NYC-based garment shop Blluemade. Jamie began embroidering smiley faces in different colors onto caps and beanies, which she now sells on the Raggedy Threads website. The success of these Smiley Watch Caps led Jamie to a collab with denim and apparel shop 3sixteen, embroidering smiley faces on their HBT (herringbone twill) caps. In another collab with 3sixteen, she helped create cozy sherpa caps that are also available through the website.

These creative projects were a welcome change of pace from the normal day-to-day routine of running the Raggedy Threads stores, and they were so fun that Jamie was eager to jump on when Alpha Industries approached her to collaborate on NASA RE:Supply. “Working on this project brought out more of my creative side and I was able to channel it into each piece,” she says.

HAND STITCHED DETAILS ON VINTAGE NASA TEES

The energy she brought to the project shines through each embroidered NASA tee. Quirky elements like hand-stitched red hearts, shooting stars, and rocket launch countdowns breathe new life into these graphic shirts from another era. By supplementing these vintage items with custom, handmade designs, the NASA RE:Supply collection aesthetically combines the triumphs of history with today’s simple pleasures.

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