In my never-ending quest for the ultimate wardrobe, I often find myself with a surplus of biker denim, chambray shirts and recently two of the exact same black denim jackets (Don't ask!). In order to reduce my textile waste I've taken to shopping my own closet, What can I update? How would this look if I attached different sleeves? And now that I have a housemate "Can I still use my bathtub to dye this fabric?".. Given my textile design background and experimental attitude, I decided to share some of my DIYs with you all here. Starting off with the fabric that comprises the majority of my wardrobe and is easiest to work on... denim
Denim is perhaps one of the most durable fabrics we wear daily. It fades over time, can be worn for years and looks even better with a bit of wear and tear. It's sturdy composition makes it the perfect canvas for a bit of DIY: whether it's a few rips or a complete dye job.This past summer I found myself reaching for my scissors almost as often as I reached for my favourite denim pieces. There were days I simply cut the hems out of denim for a frayed look, a week long project where I revamped this jacket and even an afternoon spent DIYing a coworkers black denim to resemble a pair worn by Ms. Kim Kardashian. L O L.
DIY-ing your denim is easy - and you only need to know a few basics before beginning to customise your jeans.
1) Denim is comprised of two interwoven threads which run perpendicularly (Warp and Weft threads). You can make small cuts on opposite ends and simply pull out either the horizontal or vertical threads for an authentic broken in look. A seam ripper (pictured) is the perfect tool for achieving a natural ripped look.
2) If you're aiming for ripped denim - always start your rips much smaller than you intend for them to look when finished. They will widen over time, and you can always fray the edges more by throwing them in the washing machine once finished. It's much easier to add more rips than it is to repair rips that are too large.
3) For the jacket pictured here (which started out black), I started by test dyeing a small scrap (cut from the inside) in a bath of bleach. After I was satisfied with the colour removed, I dyed the entire jacket in bleach to remove the black dye. What remained after the dye was removed however was the bleach smell! Finally with several washes in everything from lemons to baking powder and vinegar the smell had vanished. With the bleach fumes clear - I was able to start pulling out threads after making tiny cuts all over the jacket.
Other things to keep in mind ...
1) For a natural look, consider placing your ripped and torn elements in high-stress areas which would naturally wear over time (i.e elbows, knees, cuffs). Also, try sandpaper to breakdown areas, you don't want to cut.
2) Hole in your favourite jeans? before discarding them consider mending or patching them to preserve your fave pair for a bit longer. Patches and embellishments are huge this season for guys and girls, But I also love the Japanese method of Sashiko embroidery for a timeless look that will carry you well into 2017.
3) As fun as DIY denim is - it can be quite labour intensive. Find your favourite film on netflix, get comfy and prepare yourself for some nimble finger work. The process can be quite tedious (pulling on individual threads) but if you take your time, the results will be well worth it!
Check some out of my DIY denim looks below ... and feel free to comment your own DIY woes...