Distressed or distressing

Making jeans No. 5 is the first time I have been upset with how my jeans making journey was progressing.  Maybe because all along what I really wanted was a pale blue pair of jeans, and I thought I had learnt enough to make a pair I liked.  I mean, 4 practice pairs should really be enough, shouldn't it?

I usually construct the jeans up to the point of sewing the side seams, and then try them on to do any minor adjusting of leg width and shape.  This time, when I looked in the mirror, I was really disappointed.   My jeans just did not look like jeans.  The denim was all crinkly and it didn't hang the way jeans should.  They looked more like trousers than jeans.  I thought that the fabric looked really flat, but it did not respond well to distressing with sandpaper.  

On the spur of the moment, I thought I would try distressing them with bleach.  I painted on a bit of bleach, had a look, painted on a bit more, then threw them in the wash.  After they dried, I showed them to my daughter, who thought it looked like I just sat in a puddle of something.  I threw them into the wash again, this time with some blue dye to cover up the bleach.  I am not very experienced at dyeing and just chucked in half a teaspoon of a blue dye, which I had previously used by the tablespoon to dye shorts a dark denim colour.  It seemed to work though and they came out a similar colour to the original denim, only lighter in the bleached spots.  I forgot to fix the dye though, and it rinsed out, so I chucked them back in the machine again. Then I thought that perhaps I should chuck in the waistband and fabric for belt carriers as well, seeing as they were not yet attached to the jeans and still the original colour.  Panic dyeing.

I cut off the hems and folded a cuff, added the waistband (with some difficulty, as everything had frayed by now) and considered the jeans.  I thought some additional distressing was required, which seemed to illicit a variety of responses from my household.  The other adult in our house thought that distressing new clothing was ridiculous.  My son pointed out that distressing was supposed to look like you really loved your jeans so much that you didn't want to throw them out. Hmmm, good point, I didn't actually like the jeans.  I continued on.  My daughter found me reading tutorials on distressing methods, and offered to distress the jeans for me...I gratefully took up her offer to take to the jeans with scissors and tweezers whilst I cooked dinner.  Another go in the wash and here they are.

These photos were taken early in the day, but the fabric has poor recovery and they slouch down and look more like a boyfriend style of jean as the day progresses.

I haven't really shown you the pockets and other details of my jeans so far.  Drawing etc is not a strength of mine, but I am surprised at how much I have enjoyed coming up with different pocket embroidery designs.  This one is more whimsical, with a heart motif, and the embroidery in a different colour to the rest of my top-stitching..

Ironically, these jeans will probably end up being worn most of all, because their lighter weight and cropped length is more suited to our climate.


  1. Well they look really nice on and comfy. I like the lighter colour too. It doesn't look like denim though... as in, it looks a much lighter fabric than denim. But you are right... I can't stand to wear denim in the warm times... just.too.hot! I lot the pocket details too.

  2. I love your pocket embroidery! I really liked the triangle one you did, too. If you don't want the bleach to continue degrading the fabric, you can neutralize it. I think it's vinegar that you can use, but don't quote me on that. If you don't mind that the bleached areas might wear through more quickly (extra distressing with no extra work!), then don't bother. Just wanted to mention it as it was something I learned after doing some bleach "painting" on tshirts. Your effort at perfecting your jeans is inspiring!

    1. Thanks Kristen. I didn't know about neutralising bleach.

  3. In my experience you do not need to neutralize bleach (I am not even sure if you can... chemistry is not my strong side), you just wash it out and it's gone.

    But if your fabric contains some Elasthane... that normally does not like the contact with bleach, but looses all its recovery. Maybe that is why?

    (And really lovely topstitching on the pockets.)