Rain Delisle in her Southeast Portland shop

Dead denim? Rain Delisle can bring it back to life. The magical transformations she works on people’s beloved blue jeans resurrect them for wear, again and again. Shredded holes on the knees, blown-out crotches, and frayed hems are no match for her studio, Indigo Proof.

“I weave thread into where there’s no material and connect torn edges,” she explains. “There’s no patching or bulkiness. Darning is new fabric.”

A before and after comparison of Delisle’s repairs

Delisle got her start after graduating from MassArt with a BFA in fashion design. She moved to San Francisco, where she began contracting for a denim shop. There, Delisle became acquainted with darning, a repair technique meant to blend seamlessly with a garment. Self-taught on the shop’s machines, Delisle started posting photos on her blog and Instagram, in part to examine her own work more closely. “I then had people all over the country and internationally who found me and wanted to send in jeans,” she said.

Delisle founded Indigo Proof in January 2016 after moving to Portland. In between Kiss posters and hanging bandannas, the Central Eastside workshop stocks shelves of threads in every shade of blue, allowing her to match hues perfectly.

The darner’s best tip for preserving denim is to repair them before rips occur. “If you start to notice some thinning, it’s a good idea to get it fixed versus going a little bit longer,” she says.

Delisle has repaired thousands of pairs of jeans so far. With each order, she says, she asks the wearer to share a memory of the pants, revealing denim that partied alongside Kid Rock and a pair that traversed the Grand Canyon. “I look at these jeans and think there’s so much life in them,” she says. “I want to continue all of these stories.”

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