DIY: Bleached Denim

This summer bleached denim was one of the hottest trends. Partial bleached and “acid wash” items give a wardrobe an unusual trendy twist, and there is no wonder why it is so popular. It looks very attractive!

But do you need to buy a pair of bleached jeans at the store? Of course not! It is a great DIY project which is fairly simple to do.

I fell in love with it as much as everybody else and decided to give it a try.

I bought jeans pants and a jeans shirt at Renaissance and got three bottles of Clorox bleach from Canadian Tire.

There are many instructions about the bleaching process on the Internet. However, it turned out that almost none of them reveal all the tricks and secrets. Still, I accomplished this project by trying, failing, and finally succeeding. Let me tell you my story of bleaching.

The original items: The jeans and the shirt.

I wanted to make bleached shorts.
At first, I put on the jeans and marked the new length in front of the mirror. Then I cut the legs a couple of inches below the marked line.

I folded the shorts in two and attached them to a hanger with clips.

Then I put them into a bucket with the bleach and kept there for about 3 minutes.

After taking the shorts out, I left them hanging for half an hour. Then I rinsed them in clean water and left them hanging for a night.

In the morning the bleaching became more visible (the picture on the right).

After unfolding the shorts I got an unpleasant surprise. I saw ugly looking yellow stains everywhere on the fabric!

It turned out that some cloths are not suitable for bleaching.

The stains can show up for two reasons. Some indigo dyes may give this unpleasant result. Also, the fabrics with spandex may turn yellow while being bleached. The threads of spandex cannot be bleached, and they produce this yellow tint while the main fabric threads are becoming white.

I tried to wash the shorts, but the stains did not get off.

Well, I had nothing to lose! I put the shorts back to the bleach.

I decided to bleach the shirt along with the shorts. The preparations for bleaching take some time, and it is more convenient to bleach more items at once.

This time I brought the bleach and the bucket to the balcony. The bleach produces hazardous vapors, and it is better to handle it outside.

I bleached the shorts for half an hour and did not rinse after. Then, I hung them outside.

Now it was time to take care of the shirt.

At the first I put the sleeves in the bleach. Then, I carefully bleached the body part while making sure that the bleach drops would not stain the rest.

Both items spent a night on the balcony.

In the morning of the next day the results looked quite good. The shorts got bleached very well, and all the stains had vanished. The shirt got a yellow stripe along the white part. It did not be wash out, and I put the shirt back into the bleach.

Meanwhile, I took care of the shorts. Plain white shorts looked a bit boring, and I decided to rip them off and to make a fringed edge.

While making the shorts even shorter, I left some allowance for the fringe.

To make a fringe, I used scissors with the sharp ends. I loosened the threads from the other side of the cloth where the weaving pattern was simpler. Loosening was boring, and I made the fringe only on the front part.

The holes were made using the same scissors. To make the edges look more “used” and ripped I used a sand paper.

I also made some holes on the back pockets.

After finishing the adjustments, I washed the shorts, so the sanded spots and the threads felted and looked more used and torn.

Here is the result!

As you can see, the shirt got a blue border. It appeared during the second bleaching, because the level of the liquid was higher. The border ate up the yellow stripe which showed up after the first try.

Here is an outfit with the bleached jeans shorts. They look great with a front knot shirt that allows to show off the non-bleached top part of the shorts.

Here I combined the bleached shirt with my DIY collar which I made this spring.

Bleaching was a fun project. I enjoyed experimenting and have collected all the information I needed. Now I want to share it with you!

Here are my tips for the denim bleaching:

  • while working with bleach, use gloves to protect the skin on the hands;
  • do bleaching outside, for example on the balcony, because it is hazardous to inhale the bleach vapors;
  • use green bleach which breaks down to salt and water; read the label before buying;
  • always dispose the bleach and water with bleach to the sewing system; it will neutralize of the any leftovers of bleach;
  • while getting bleaching, the fabric can get a yellowish or brownish tint. 
  • bleach turns spandex yellow, so avoid bleaching elastic denim;
  • while looking for a jeans item to bleach, take a close look at the fabric; if it is yellowish on the light spots, it will probably turn yellow after bleaching, too;
  • sometimes some particular indigo dye reacts to bleach by turning yellow;
  • thus, try first to bleach an example of the cloth; in my case I could have done it with a piece from one of the cut-off jeans legs;
  • do not expect to get a pure clean white color after bleaching; if it is your goal, you should use a white fabric dye;
  • the threads that stitch the item would probably keep their original color and would not get bleached.

This is it!

Happy bleaching!

P.S. And a couple of photos “before-after”!

Bleach Second hand Denim DIY before after

Bleach Second hand Denim DIY before after

Disclaimer: Yup, this post may contain affiliate links! If you buy something from me, I get some margarita money (not enough to buy a pair of shoes). Read more here.

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  2. […] I will show a sequel of my  Bleached Denim post. Let’s […]

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