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DIY dressmaking + crafts with Emily

DIY acid wash jeans

I’ve been on a jeans making rampage since I first tried the I Am Patterns Sunshine jeans last autumn and have just finished my FOURTH pair. And yes I wear and love them all! My distaste for skinny jeans has continued to grow and these comfy balloon legs have totally taken over my wardrobe.

Top tip: even if the pattern says not to, use a denim with a slight stretch. You might need to take in the pattern slightly more than you expect but it makes for a much comfier finished item! All 4 of my pairs use a denim with a small Lycra content.

This latest pair used a very bright 70s mid blue that I got from The Village Haberdashery closing down sale last year. It was a lovely heavy weight stretch denim with a firm hand and I wanted to make a slightly fitted version of these jeans than my previous 3 pairs so I just took them in further and added pocket stays to help hold my middle in!

The fit was great but the colour? Not quite my cup of tea I’m afraid.

I decided to try and bleach them!

I’ve been missing having some light blue jeans in my wardrobe so figured this was the perfect time for their return! I wanted to create an acid washed effect so that the seams would look a little darker where the fold of the fabric was. I’ve always loved that effect on ready to wear jeans. I tested a scrap of the fabric first to get an idea of what kind of colour it would become but I was happy to just go in and experiment with this as I figured worst case scenario would have me sitting at the stove with a bottle of rit dye…

So here’s what I did!

Step one: Dampen the jeans.

I did all my bleaching in the bathtub so I just hosed my jeans down with the shower head. If I had a do over, I would probably have stuck them in the washing machine as I think the denim had a finishing on the surface I didn’t expect.

Step two: Prep your spray bottle

I used a premixed mixed bleach cleaning spray (< sodium hypochlorite 5%) which is what I use to clean my bathroom. I figured why not since I had it to hand! If I didn’t, I would have still mixed up the same bleach and water mix into a spray. I wanted to be able to control the process a little more than if I just submerged the whole garment in a tub full of it.

Step three: Spray your jeans

I spread out the jeans in the tub as much as I could before I started spraying on the areas I wanted lighter. I went straight down the centre of each leg first, followed by focusing around the waistband and crotch – both areas I would prefer to be as even as possible. I then flipped the jeans over and did the same of the back before spraying into the side seams. Once I was happy with how covered they were I laid them out as flat as possible and left them to soak.

Step four: Check it and spray again

After an hour, I saw some lift but not to the extent I was hoping for so I sprayed the jeans once more before leaving them for another hour. I did check on them regularly for the first hour – be aware your jeans might lighten faster than mine!

Step five: Wash

Once you’re happy with the finish, stick them in the washing machine! I’ve seen other US sources which say to soak them in hydrogen peroxide to counter the bleach but as that is quite hard to get hold of here, I just went straight for the wash. It took a couple of rinses to the get the smell out but it works just fine!

Here are some after shots!

I love the uneven faded effect of the bleaching process even more than I thought I would! The bright blue of the original denim has been tempered and I know I’ll wear these a lot more.

There’s a small part of me that wants to bleach them again and see how light they’d go but I think I’ll wear them like this for a bit before I try!

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