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To Re-stitch-or not!
Old 08-08-2018, 05:22 PM   #1
RJKG
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Default To Re-stitch-or not!

I've recently purchased a LW Field Div camouflage smock at an affordable price, but with commensurate extensive fraying around the collar and cuffs, and also extensive deterioration of the internal stitching. This has resulted in lengths of stitching to the internal pockets, and fold back seams, for instance at the front fastening edge, becoming unstitched due to the deterioration of the thread,

The question is whether to professionally re-stitch these areas, obviously replicating the existing stretches as closely as possible, or to leave them as they are ?

Re-stitching shouldn't significantly impair the appearance of the smock, and hopefully will be virtually undetectable, but at the same time will stabilise any further deterioration of the internal stitching.

Any suggestions as to whether to leave as it is, or halt any further deterioration of stitching by re-stitching ?
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:54 PM   #2
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I believe you will receive different opinions on this question.
I believe you should maintain it in an acceptable condition and to halt any further deterioration.
Ralph.
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Old 08-10-2018, 04:13 AM   #3
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Many thanks for that opinion. That was my inclination.
Overall, it shouldn't detract from the item's appearance, if done well, yet will consolidate it and prevent further deterioration.
Some of the decayed stitching has already been poorly tacked up previously, but in a rather unsightly way, and at what stage in the garment's history is anyone's guess.
Yes, there'll be a minor concession to authenticity, but it's a small price to pay for the gains.
Any other opinions or suggestions welcomed.
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Old 08-10-2018, 04:23 AM   #4
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I'm currently replacing post war repairs on a Hbt tunic with genuine aged pieces. I have no problem with restoring it. It's going to stay with me and if I ever did sell it I'd point it out and expect a reduced value. It will look a lot better in my display and that's all that matters to me.
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Old 08-18-2018, 03:29 AM   #5
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I've restored dozens of visor caps where the original stitching has broken resulting in the peaks and sweatbands falling off. I've also repaired insect and rodent damage as much as is possible whilst avoiding sewing in replacement fabric panels or patches which IMO, isn't the right thing to do.

Some collectors frown upon restorations but I would suggest that's because they are uneducated in the fundamental German philosophy of the Third Reich period and even long before that. German society and culture very much believed in the repair and recycling of goods, especially clothing and were disapproving of excessive consumerism which was considered as wasteful. (Lessons we could learn from today!) Trade publications of the period are full of articles and features concerning goods at fair prices, fair wages for the workers who made them and the need for thrift and austerity. As a consequence, it would be the done thing to have your uniforms and caps etc repaired rather than replaced and the stores where you bought such things would all have a sewing workshop for exactly those reasons. Tailors, seamstresses and the like were all highly regarded and respected.

Once you get your head around this and try and ignore our modern mindset of throwing goods in the trash and buying new replacements, then you begin to understand that Germans of the period would totally approve of re-sewing the loose seams of a tunic or stitching a loose visor back on to a cap.

Also, these garments weren't meant to last 80 years! lol
It's actually amazing and a testament to the quality of German craftsmanship that a lot of them have lasted. Common sense dictates that if we want them to last another 80 years, some repairs maybe needed to stabilize them.

However, restorations need to be done by someone with the skills and experience to do them properly. For example, you wouldn't believe how many times I've seen visors put back on with super glue! I'm actually working on one like that now. Part of the restorers job is to try and undo silly mistakes like that which I don't think many collectors even think about.

Cheers
Ben
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Old 08-18-2018, 12:38 PM   #6
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Ben knows what he is doing and talking about. Well worth to heed his advice if you are interested in a restoration, he performs miracles. J
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Old 08-20-2018, 08:27 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the advice / opinions received. Decision time !
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Old 08-26-2018, 01:14 AM   #8
Tim O'Keefe
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Let me be the lone voice of dissension. Leave it be, once you restore something all you have is an original tunic/cap that has now been messed with post war....

Leave history alone i say, & i know i am in the minority
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Old 08-27-2018, 02:17 AM   #9
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Tim, I understand your point of view but there is a big distinction between proper restoration/conservation and "messing" with something.

I don't think the highly trained and skilled painting conservator, the WWII aircraft restorer, the ancient Egyptian artefact preservator or Japanese sword polisher etc etc would take kindly to being accused of "messing" around, do you?
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Old 08-31-2018, 06:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenVK View Post
I've restored dozens of visor caps where the original stitching has broken resulting in the peaks and sweatbands falling off. I've also repaired insect and rodent damage as much as is possible whilst avoiding sewing in replacement fabric panels or patches which IMO, isn't the right thing to do.

Some collectors frown upon restorations but I would suggest that's because they are uneducated in the fundamental German philosophy of the Third Reich period and even long before that. German society and culture very much believed in the repair and recycling of goods, especially clothing and were disapproving of excessive consumerism which was considered as wasteful. (Lessons we could learn from today!) Trade publications of the period are full of articles and features concerning goods at fair prices, fair wages for the workers who made them and the need for thrift and austerity. As a consequence, it would be the done thing to have your uniforms and caps etc repaired rather than replaced and the stores where you bought such things would all have a sewing workshop for exactly those reasons. Tailors, seamstresses and the like were all highly regarded and respected.

Once you get your head around this and try and ignore our modern mindset of throwing goods in the trash and buying new replacements, then you begin to understand that Germans of the period would totally approve of re-sewing the loose seams of a tunic or stitching a loose visor back on to a cap.

Also, these garments weren't meant to last 80 years! lol
It's actually amazing and a testament to the quality of German craftsmanship that a lot of them have lasted. Common sense dictates that if we want them to last another 80 years, some repairs maybe needed to stabilize them.

However, restorations need to be done by someone with the skills and experience to do them properly. For example, you wouldn't believe how many times I've seen visors put back on with super glue! I'm actually working on one like that now. Part of the restorers job is to try and undo silly mistakes like that which I don't think many collectors even think about.

Cheers
Ben
Completely agree with you Ben.

Like you, I restore visor hats to their original configuration. Restoration only, no "creations". And like you, I detest super glue repairs. Bad previous "repairs" really complicate decent repairs.

Tom
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Old 09-02-2018, 03:03 AM   #11
Tim O'Keefe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenVK View Post
Tim, I understand your point of view but there is a big distinction between proper restoration/conservation and "messing" with something.

I don't think the highly trained and skilled painting conservator, the WWII aircraft restorer, the ancient Egyptian artefact preservator or Japanese sword polisher etc etc would take kindly to being accused of "messing" around, do you?
I Apologize Ben. Have seen your incredible work. & i suspect they would not.

As you know i am only a cloth DAK collector so my opinion is very narrow. Have seen enough stripped DAK tunics and M40's with post war added insignia resold as originally applied insignia (which can mean the difference of several thousand dollars) over the years...especially if the previous owner knew all along.

Keep up the good work

cheers
Tim
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Old 09-02-2018, 08:39 AM   #12
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The issue is not what Germans of the 1930's would do or not do. This is irrelevant. The issue is what effect restoration has on an antique.

For example, you can completely disassemble and restore an antique car with new paint, new leather, new tires, new chrome, and show it in Concours competitions and the value increases by 300 percent.

But if you so much as touch the finish on an 18th century Chippendale chair, you completely destroy the value. A refinished piece of antique furniture is practically worthless, perhaps 1/5th the value of an unrestored piece, no matter how roached out it is.

So where do military artifacts fit? We all know to restore a helmet -- repaint, re-line, and so on, destroys it value. On the other hand, a pair of old dead, dry, hard desiccated leather boots brought back to life by a talented leather conservator to look again like the 1940's with nothing new added increase greatly in value (and last 100 years more for the future).

So the only question is: Is a visor cap an antique "car" or an antique "chair"? A helmet or a pair of boots? Does restoring it change its historical aspect and value? Increase or decrease or no effect? What children of the Depression and Versailles would have done 70 years ago does not matter.
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Old 09-02-2018, 03:20 PM   #13
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I think it does matter a lot actually and I'll give you some reasons why.

When I first became interested in Japanese swords, I couldn't understand why the accepted practice is to get them re-polished. Surely all that old patina on the blade is what gives it history and value, right? Wrong! To judge the identity and quality of the blade, it's necessary to view all the nuances of the forging and the only way to do that is to remove that patina. Only then can it be judged and officially documented. It's a complicated subject but the role of the polisher is not just to restore it in a random way. To become fully qualified means several years of studying not only the techniques but also the history and styles of the original sword smiths and polishers and trying to understand how they would have done it a 100 or 600 hundred years ago.

My belief is that it's much the same with restoring WWII items but I wouldn't claim it's on the same level of expertise.
With visor caps for example, there are literally thousands of manufactures and each had their own particular styles of manufacture. If you have no fundamental knowledge of this, you're liable to restore a cap in totally the wrong way. It might look ok to the average collector but that's not the point.

It's a bit like giving a Rembrandt to David Hockney to restore. Hockney can paint without a doubt but unless he's studied Rembrant's techniques, the kind of paints and varnishes he used etc and how to replicate them, the end result will be crap.

You speak of financial values as if that's the only reason to restore an antique.

It's not.

You also compare restoring cars to Chippendale chairs.

You can't do that.

Antiques are all very different and should be considered on a case by case basis. I didn't make up the rules as to which ones are acceptable to restore and which ones are not. That's a whole different discussion.

Last edited by BenVK; 09-02-2018 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 09-02-2018, 10:09 PM   #14
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You completely missed the point. The point was in response to an earlier post which suggested one should re-stitch 1930's era German caps because Germans in the 1930's were thrifty people and they would have done it. That is irrelevant. What Germans of the 1930's would have done with hats or what Frenchmen of the 18th Century would have done with chairs is immaterial, unless you have a time machine to go back to 1930's Germany or the France or the 1700's to sell the items.

What is relevant is how such restorations are perceived TODAY, and how they will likely be perceived in the future. Unfortunately, this is largely guided by financial value rather than historical preservation. I do not state that this is as it should be, only that this is how it is.

You seem like an argumentative person. I did NOT compare restoring cars to restoring Chippendale chairs. I used these two examples to show how restoration can either greatly enhance the value of an antique or destroy the value. I also did not make the rules regarding what is acceptable to restore and what is not. I merely pointed out that before restoring anything, the restorer should know those rules.
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Old 09-03-2018, 12:54 AM   #15
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Both Tom and myself have many years experience of restoring caps and we were simply expressing our thoughts on the subject.

You are the one being argumentative and completely missing several points.
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