Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Sew-Day, Denim, Part III

Today, we finally return to our denim series. The denim portion of this refashion is actually no-sew, so to make it a real Sunday Sew-Day, I've thrown in a bonus refashion for your viewing pleasure.

This was my first ever experiment in bleaching! I would've been nervous if it weren't for the fact that I paid $0 for this 1980s striped denim jacket. It came to me in a huge box of leftovers from a garage sale. It fit great but reminded me a little too much of a pair of striped denim shorts I had as a kid.

Bleached Denim Jacket - BeforeBleached Denim Jacket - Before

I found this tutorial on bleaching denim and thought, "why not?" The tag said 98% cotton, 2% spandex, and I googled the brand - JouJou - and found it's sold at places like Nordstrom and Macy's. I'm not sure this qualifies it as "quality" denim that will withstand bleach, but again, it was free. If it gets destroyed, I won't be that upset. So I gathered my materials - bleach, gloves, and a plastic mop bucket - and I'm working outside to avoid bleach fumes. Also, please note, in the before photo, I am wearing one of my husband's old undershirts and my paintin' pants. We don't want to accidentally bleach anything important. Also note the stitching on this jacket is the standard tan used in a lot of denim products and probably the standard polyester too, so I'm not banking on it bleaching to white, but I'm okay with that too.

Bleached Denim Jacket - In Progress

Per the tutorial, I dampened my jacket in warm water first.

Bleached Denim Jacket - In Progress

Then I filled my bucket mostly with warm water and topped it off with bleach. I eyeballed the 3-to-1 ratio since I didn't have a measuring cup I didn't want to use for food ever again. I used a gloved hand to swirl it around and mix it well. Then I added my jacket and gently stirred it around too.

Bleached Denim Jacket - In Progress

I came back every hour or so at first, to check on the bleaching and stir the jacket around some. The shorts in the tutorial took 31 hours to get completely white, but they started out pretty dark. So I was hoping my lighter denim jacket wouldn't take quite that long.

Bleached Denim Jacket - In Progress

Sadly, that did not turn out to be the case. I checked on the periodically for two and a half days, and I was still seeing stripes.

Bleached Denim Jacket - In Progress

My theory is the jacket is outerwear and may have been treated with some chemical to make it more resistant to stains, sun-bleaching, etc, while the shorts used in the tutorial were probably not treated. But I was determined to make this jacket wearable, and again, I had nothing to lose. So I bought another bottle of bleach and mixed up a new solution of 1 part bleach to 1 part water this time. Another 24 hours in the bucket, and I finally had a mostly white jacket! Unfortunately, the bleach left some little white deposits on all the metal buttons and rivets. So I scrubbed them with an old toothbrush and cleaned 'em right up!

Bleached Denim Jacket - In Progress

But wait, there's more! Remember, I promised to add some sewing to this Sunday Sew-Day. Check out this $3 jersey dress I found at Goodwill.

Striped Maxi Skirt - BeforeStriped Maxi Skirt - Before

It's maybe a smidge too large.

Striped Maxi Skirt - Before

Okay, perhaps it's way too large.

Striped Maxi Skirt - Before

And it's a tad too short as well. I like a maxi to brush the ground as I walk. If I'm not at risk of tripping over it and falling on my face, it's not long enough. But I love the purple and grey stripe. It'll make a fantastic maxi skirt to pair with my new no-longer-striped jacket. First, I chopped off the skirt just below the waistband, and cut pieces for a new waistband from the bust pieces.

Striped Maxi Skirt - In Progress

The rectangle (which has four layers of fabric under it) is about 6 inches shy of half my hip circumference, but this fabric has plenty of stretch so the skirt will sit comfortably on my hips and not slide downward. I took two of the four rectangles and sewed them together along one long edge with right-sides-facing, using a zig-zag stitch to maintain stretchy-ness. Then I did the same with the other two pieces. Next I unfolded each pair and sewed them together end-to-end and right-sides-facing to form a tube. I used a straight stitch here since stretch didn't matter that much. Folding down one half of the tube will create my double-layer, super-comfy, yoga-esque waistband.

Striped Maxi Skirt - In Progress

Then I took in the sides of the skirt, 5 inches on each side. I even snipped the laundering tag and reattached it in my new side seam.

Striped Maxi Skirt - In Progress

Finally, I pinned the inside-out waistband to the right-side-out skirt and sewed all around using a zig-zag again.

Striped Maxi Skirt - In Progress

Et voilĂ ! The waistband fits perfectly.

Bleached Denim Jacket & Striped Maxi Skirt - AfterBleached Denim Jacket & Striped Maxi Skirt - After

The length is spot on.

Bleached Denim Jacket & Striped Maxi Skirt - AfterBleached Denim Jacket & Striped Maxi Skirt - After

And just look at that white denim jacket!

Bleached Denim Jacket - After

As I suspected, the stitching remained tan, and in some places where I hadn't even noticed the stitching before, it was actually a very pale blue and stayed that way.

Bleached Denim Jacket - After

Not bad for a freebie!

Bleached Denim Jacket - After


Bleached Denim Jacket - Before & After


Striped Maxi Skirt - Before & After

6 comments:

  1. Oh Carissa, You made laught so much with that dress!!!! :D
    Love what you did with that denin jacket! It is so much better!
    And the dress turn out a great maxi skirt!!! Congrats!
    kisses from Portugal!!!

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    1. Thanks, Helena! Glad to hear it!

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  2. How did the denim hold up to the bleach? Is it weakened at all?

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    1. No, it seems to have held up just fine. This may have something to do with the chemical-treatment theory - who knows! There seem to ne too many factors, too many different types of denim, to say exactly how one garment will react. To be on the safe side, if you're wanting to try this, I'd definitely use a garment you don't mind destroying.

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  3. I love the maxi skirt. I remember when maxi's were "in" in the late 60s, early 70s. I made one - the first thing I sewed on my own. I loved that thing. I have to say, I'm not seeing them around here - it will likely take a year or two to reach us up here in the great white north :)

    I seem to recall that Beth at Renegade Seamstress bleached a denim jacket too, and used full strength bleach. It took a lot less time than yours! I wonder if she had any wear problems. Here is the link:
    http://chicenvelopements.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/diy-dress-and-cropped-denim-jacket/
    She mentions the full-strength bleach in her reply to my question under Jo H. (my other name I use for commenting).

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    1. Fashion is just a cycle really. Everything old is new again eventually!

      Now that you mention, I do remember seeing Beth's bleached jacket. Like you, I was wary of full-strength bleach. Maybe if I had sucked it up and tried it, the bleaching process would've only been a day instead of three and a half. Oh well, too late now!

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