When Things Fail—The Greatest Pair of Sweat Pants I’ve Ever Had

October 4, 2013

Above: Yep, an actual pair of sweat pants worn by me on an obviously regular basis. Read below for more details.

Recently I hired an assistant to help me sort through papers and books from the folks'. It didn't work out. Our organizational styles didn't mesh. I'm on my own once again.

Interior Kitchen–evening

Roz stands at the stove making fried rice. She turns to Dick. Smirking.

R: And I can't even write about it on my blog, at least not the way I'd really like to write about it, in detail.

She laughs.

D: No you can't. You're very Truman Capote-esque.

(Years ago we'd both seen a taped interview during which TC laughed at the notion that people he'd been at parties with were surprised when he wrote about them.)

Well there you have it—one failed experiment in having an assistant. (Also I don't really like having someone in the house when I'm working, except for Dick of course, but he has his own study upstairs.)

Since I can't write about the failed experiment (and there are some wonderfully silly moments) I am writing today about failed sweatpants, failed fabric—the best sweatpants I have ever had.

In the image shown in this post you'll see one of four pairs of 20-year-old, 100 percent cotton sweatpants from Title Nine. They have to be 20 years old because I wore them when Emma was still alive and she died in 1996.

These are one of my heavyweight pairs. I also had two pairs of lightweight sweatpants that were the weight of a heavy t-shirt and perfect for hiking through the humid forests in August, tracking with the girls.

Until recently there were only a couple holes in the front of the legs: wear, and of course extra wear caused by breaking through fields of thistle and walking through briar patches. (My dogs really didn't care.)

These pants have been worn more times than I could count, and washed more times…But they have lasted all these years, failing only in the past two months or so, because they were a quality garment and I always dried them on a drying rack. (Please Title Nine, start making these again—not everyone wants to wear skintight sweats with lycra.)

As you can see, when they first started to fail, inspired by a friend who does colorful embroidery on her clothing, I stitched up the holes. But over the past month, the holes have become more or less a feature.

Last week, while watching a particularly thrilling TV mystery, I found myself absentmindedly enlarging the holes, a sort of tension release. I'd already decided that this pair was scheduled for the bin when I took them off that night. 

Don't worry, I don't go outside wearing any of these pants. Not since Dot died in 2003. And then they weren't full of holes.

It may be many years since I lived in my father's house, but I believe his radar still picks up when I go outside without silk or linen on. Some things never fail.

  1. Reply

    Wow… now I don’t feel bad about my paint spattered sweats… I must admit I’ve thrown away quite a few for holes… may just keep them (for house wear) from now on.

  2. Reply

    I think you need to play TAPS when they hit the bin. They have served you well!

    • Ricë
    • October 4, 2013

    Yes, it’s OK to work with Dick in the house.

    • TJ
    • October 4, 2013

    Roz those are SO cool! I say wear them in public with pride as long as your buns aren’t hanging out.

  3. Reply

    I’m not going to go there Ricë!

  4. Reply

    If I were a sexy young thing I might just do that (no my buns aren’t hanging out). But at my age I just look sad in public. Also one thing I noticed once the holes were so pronounced—they are drafty!

    This pair is gone now. The remaining heavyweight pair isn’t in that bad a shape (HA) and I have worn it (with its decorative stitching) on my evening walks with Dick. I actually have them on right now. There are lots of paint stains on these as well. No wonder all the college kids give me such stares!

  5. Reply

    Ellen, I did sing a little goodbye (I have a little goodbye song I’ve sung since I was a child) when I tossed them. The fabric was so bad that I couldn’t even save a swatch!

    I really got my $29.99 or $39.99 or whatever they charged me for them out of these sweatpants. I just wish they would make them again!!! I’d by 10 pairs and that just might take me to the end of my life!

    • Karen
    • October 4, 2013

    I’m glad I got to see you in them on one of their last days. Good that they’re gone.

    • Frank Bettendorf
    • October 4, 2013

    Get thee to the Russell Sweatpants site. We wouldn’t wear anything else!

    • Tom Winterstein
    • October 5, 2013

    Roz, I found a quote about painters and their clothes in the book “What Art Is” by James Elkins and put it upon the Old Town Artist blog:

    It’s too long to repeat here. I hope you like it.

  6. Reply

    I’ve got a couple of sweatshirts you really should see…old Gap shirts from back in the day when they made them out of 100% cotton…imagine that!

    Was meaning to get in touch about lightfastness tests. Here is a link to a gal in Australia who’s doing some extensive tests and posts on her blog with huge pics. Thought you might find it interesting.

    Stay warm and keep those legs covered! : )

    • Miss T
    • October 5, 2013

    Roz, the solution to this is reverse appliqué.

  7. Reply

    Tom, I go to that link and it says “sorry” it’s not there??? Did that page get changed?

  8. Reply

    You can still get 100 percent cotton shirts Jill. It’s all I have! Though if you’re getting shirts at the Gap maybe you mean button up shirts that are “iron-free”?

    Loved the lightfastness tests. I haven’t tested my DS colors since after I started using them and they all came through with flying colors. The person writing Handprint and some books are available with info on individual pigments so I just avoid those (like the yellow she listed), for the most part.

    But non-paint media I’m still always going to test.

  9. Reply

    Yes Miss T. I think you’re right, but I didn’t think about that until I’d made a mess of things with lots of ridges! But that’s OK. Sometimes it’s good to let things go.

  10. Reply

    All the Russell stuff I’ve tried is cut funny. And the pieces I’ve looked at are 80/20. I need 100 percent cotton!

    But thanks Frank.

    • Miss T
    • October 6, 2013

    Oh, but I mean you can reverse appliqué them now, and leave the ridges where they are — it would work well with the holes and would look really cool!

  11. Reply

    No, I mean sweatshirts. Good heavy ones. I haven’t been able to find 100% cotton in those for a while. Haven’t been to a Gap store in years so I don’t know what they have now. Glad you liked the tests. I thought they were pretty interesting and thorough. Might have to pick up a few new colors… : )

  12. Reply

    Jill, Sahalie has had some nice 100 percent cotton sweatshirts. You might check them out!

    Have fun with getting new watercolors!

  13. Reply

    thanks I will do that!

    • Linda
    • October 7, 2013

    Roz, love these pants. My cuz keeps on saying when are you going to buy new cloths I just laugh mine are oldies but goodies and for the money now they do not make well made cloths like they used to.
    Have a great day,

  14. Reply

    Linda, they really don’t make clothes like they used to. I was sorry to see these go.

  15. Reply

    Tom, thanks for sending the link. I went and read it and that’s exactly the progression I’ve experienced. I stained the couch sometime back, and a few months ago spilt ink all over my easy chair. So I guess I’m right where I should be as far as paint on clothing!

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