Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Domestic Goddess Dress Up: How to Distress, Bleach, Dye, and Basically Transform Any Pair of Jeans

This tutorial may have the most pictures of any tutorial yet. 
It all started with a pair of jeans. 
This pair, to be exact.

I recently inherited this pair of maternity jeans, as we all do when we're expecting, from a dear sister-in-law. Now, maternity clothes are a bit more finicky than other clothes. Every woman is shaped differently, and when we're pregnant those differences are magnified. But, these jeans actually fit quite nicely. Hooray! 
The only problem became my insufferable picky-ness. When it comes to the stain of a jean, I'm sensitive. Just ask the hubbs. 

I don't do light stains.

White jeans, sure.
Colored jeans, awesome!
Medium stains, no problem.
Dark stains, love 'em.
But a light wash, nu-uh. 

And these jeans were just a little light, and a little too blue, for my liking. 

So I took matters into my own hands.

Between these three colors of dye, I made me a good lookin' pair of jeans. (Though I could've done with just two. You'll see.)

So, here are directions for dying any fabric with Rit dyes, stovetop method.

Disolve your dye in two cups of hot water.
Fill a pot with enough hot water to allow your fabric to move around freely. Put on the burner on high heat.

For cotton fabrics, add a cup of salt to help the dye stain darker.

Add the dye to your pot.

Wet your jeans with hot water.

Carefully place your jeans into your dye. You want to do this slowly so air doesn't get trapped, resulting in having to get the air out, which will undoubtedly result in a bubble splashing dye all over. P.S. wearing an old apron, painting clothes, or a garbage bag would be well worth your time. 

Let your jeans "marinade" in the dye for about 40 minutes for full color. You'll want to reposition your jeans often so the jeans get an even dye (you don't want one part of your jeans to be lighter than the others), you'll also want to stir them around (not just push them down into the dye) so the dye gets everywhere and you don't end up with tie-dye looking jeans.

When you're done, transfer jeans into a bowl.

Rinse your jeans in hot water, gradually getting cooler as you rinse. 

 Once the water is cool enough and the dye is faded enough, you can use your hands to rinse and ring out. Your fingers will get lightly dyed, but it only lasts through 3 or 4 hand washes. You'll want to rinse until the water runs clear. Throw those puppies into the dryer and wait for the results!

And voila! The color you want! Now, I must tell you, it took me three dyeing sessions to get the color I wanted. I started with just plain navy blue, but that ended up being just that-plain blue. It was like cobalt 60's homemade jeans. Nope nope nope. So then I got smart and went onto ritdye.com and found their wonderful color combo grid and used a mix of teal and black for my next dye, but it was still too blue from my first dyeing, so then I added a bunch more black to the teal/black dye combo and that did the trick. (There's some wisdom to keeping your dye until you're sure you won't have to dye again.)

How to Distress Your Jeans

I thought I would distress my jeans, but for a few reasons I ended up leaving them be. But, if you would like to go that route, I strongly suggest practicing different techniques on a pair of scrap jeans so you get an idea of what you want to do. This is actually quite fun.

Here are a few things I tried out.
(I must note, I didn't rip that big ol' hole in these jeans, that's just how hard the hubbs is on his clothing, not joking.)

Items listed from left to right:
Sandpaper, block of wood, old steak knife, pepper de-seeder, fine cheese grater, gloves (if you're going to be using a lot of bleach, I would use these), measuring cup, bleach and foam brush.
Other things you can use: Power tools, pumice stone, anything you can think of that might destroy cloth. *There's a difference between distressing and destroying jeans. If you want to destroy some jeans, just take everything I've done to a major level and you should get the results you want. 

The block of wood is quite important. My wood is actually a piece broken off of my son's toy train which I will repair... soon. 

Place your wood inside your jeans in the direction you want your distress lines.

Rub your knife along the edge of the block until you get the amount of wear you want.

Here's what the knife wear looks like (moderate amount of wear).

Here's the same method using sandpaper.

It wears less dramatically along the edge of the wood but makes a hole fairly quickly if you go over the edge of the wood block.

Next is the "whiskers" look.

Fold your jeans into a "fan" pattern where you want your whiskers.

Keep holding the jeans folded (I didn't because I need a hand to take the picture). Dip your brush in bleach and make sure you press ALL excess out so you don't get blotchy lines. Run your brush over the tops of the folded jean.
Here is the result of bleached whiskers. You can make it more dramatic by letting it sit longer. *Note: dyed jeans will react more dramatically and quickly to bleach because of the dark color. To deactivate the bleach, douse with white vinegar. 

Here I used he same "fan" fold whisker method, but I used sandpaper instead of bleach. These makes the lines much smaller and subtle. I have found the easiest way to get lines close together is to fan and bleach or sandpaper, then release the fan and fold between those lines you just made and bleach or sandpaper those lines. (So, the first third and fifth lines were made first, then I went in-between and did the second and fourth lines, if that makes it any easier to understand...) If you try to fold lines close together, you'll end up really frustrated. 

Next up: General Fading

I tried two different methods of large-area bleaching (if you want a faded look on the front of your jeans, like thighs and knees). 

This first way is the more cautious way (I always like cautious). First, mix bleach and water 1 to 1 and spread that all over the area you want to fade, tapering out on the edges. Then, take straight bleach and spread that in the middle of your bleaching area for a brighter bleach in the center, taper this off towards the edges. You can add more bleach if you've waited a while and want a stronger fade.
This takes a little more time, depending on your fabric. But I'd say it's definitely worth being careful.
The area that I bleached is the first lightened area from the bottom, on the left side of the jean.

This second way is probably obvious. Just straight bleach. You can still taper off the fading, as long as your fabric is thick and resilient. If you have stretchy fabric (like the jeans I dyed), it's really hard. Real denim will be the best option for all fading and distressing.
You can see the area I bleached is above the whiskers on the left side of the jean.

And, here are the jeans all done. The picture is yellow and since I had to set up the camera and use the picture-taker-timer, it's from a low angle, making me look more puffy that I actually am. Oh well. 

And Tedi, these belly pictures are just for you. As requested.

I feel really weird taking a "bathroom mirror" type picture. But, when you're the only one in the house, there aren't many options...

And there you go. All kinds of ways you can "new" your old jeans! For a lot more ideas, this is a great page. 

Go wild!

1 comment:

Stephanie Shumway said...

cuteness :) and thank you for playing christmas music. it made me happy :)