Monday, February 13, 2012

How To: Dye Your Jeans

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! In honor of our lovely pink holiday, I thought I would share something that is both lovely, and pink (and will make your husband seriously doubt your sanity).
Colored jeans have been all the rage lately. I see trendy high school girls with their hair perfectly in place sporting their bright red jeans in Panera while I blog rather frequently… and yes. It does give me a bit of a complex. I was prowling around JCPenny the other day, hunting for part of the smartest’s v-day gift, and I came across some lovely florescent blue and brilliant red jeans. They were $25, which isn’t bad for jeans, but seeing as I wasn’t sure that I was awesome enough to wear florescent jeans, particularly without perfect hair or a Panera nearby, I went along my merry way.
The next weekend, the smartest and I dropped by a thrift store, and I started thinking about maybe creating some colored jeans of my own. I snagged a pair off the rack for $4.95 (without trying them on first, a decision I would later come to regret), and dropped by target to snag a $1.95 bottle of bleach.
Ok. Enough with the narrative already.
DIY Colored  Jeans

What you need:
$4.95 Jeans (probably some old ones, that you dig but won’t be thrown into the crushing grasp of depression should things end badly)
$1.95 Bleach (.5 gallon should do it)
Rubber gloves (because I really can’t have you blaming me if your fingers shrivel up and fall off. Wear them any time you are touching the bleach/pants/bowl/water)
Large bowl that you will never use for anything food related ever again
$2.69 1 packet RIT dye (I used red)

What you do
1.       Put jeans in bowl
2.       Run hot water over jeans, while adding your bleach (wear those gloves, if you like your skin). I added around .5 gallon or so- but I’m pretty sure less would do just fine. Add enough water to cover jeans.
3.       Gasp for air and turn on overhead kitchen fan (do this in a ventilated area where possible)
4.       Wonder by what cruel trick denim doesn’t bleach instantly, while the cotton shirt you are wearing (and spilled on) is already turning white.  
5.       Let jeans sit, stirring occasionally for roughly 2 hours (or until jeans are no longer blue and are more an awkward yellowish-tanish-whitish color). While handling/standing near jeans- wear your gloves. Just in case your pants leap out and aggressively attempt to shake your hand in congratulations for your awesomeness.

6.       Rinse jeans in cold water, then rinse bowl
7.       Read your dye package. It probably recommends that you fill your bowl with steaming hot water, and stir in some salt. Follow your directions, even though they aren’t as cool and snarky as me.

8.       Submerge your now-awkward pants into dye.

9.       Package probably says to stir continuously for 15 minutes. I lost interest and went to play Age of Empires with the smartest, but it would probably be a good idea.
10.   Let sit 45 minutes, stirring when you get up to get a cookie healthy snack of some kind

11.   Remove pants from bowl and rinse them repeatedly in cold water
12.   Wash pants in washing machine in warm water (I actually washed mine 3 times, just in case)
13.   Dry pants on low
14.   Discover that you wish you had known that the size on the pants wasn’t actually the size OF the pants, and clothes pin pants together while husband takes photo for blog.

Viola! Colored jeans of your very own. Just in time for your Valentine’s Day date night! Price comparison: $25 for department store jeans vs $10 for the DIY version. I think I will use my extra $15 to track down one of those perfect hair girls and attempt to kidnap their hairdresser. Happy V-day everyone!


claireo831 said...

lol!! I love your directions!! I've always wondered about pants dying, last summer I had a craving for green pants that were $100 at Anthropologie and considering dying my own but my mom discouraged it (I ended up finding a pair at JC Penny for $17). Now I wanna try this with a pair of sad shorts or something!! I have a bunch of fushia dye left over from a project...

the artist said...

You definitely should! I feel like it is the perfect solution to old shorts that just aren't making the cut anymore (or in my case, that I have inexplicably stained with random liquids). I would LOVE to see some fushia shorts happening this summer...


How fun!! I want pink pants :)

Kitty From A Law Student's Journey said...

great project! I'm awful at buying things at thrift store, and refusing to try them on!

Bromeliad said...

Awesome. Glad the tutorial includes gaming and a snack.

Oh Sew Classy said...

I love this idea, this is absolutely wonderful. Since I've been on a spring kick, I think I'll do some shorts!

Anonymous said...

These are awesome. I love the way you write it makes it hilarious and enjoyable!! Keep it up! :)

the artist said...

Thank you so much! I am so glad that you like the jeans (and even more glad that you liked the post)! I promise to keep writing if you promise to keep reading (and making comments that make my face super happy).

Kara @ Mine for the Making said...

Great idea! Thanks for linking up to DIY Diva Thursdays this week :) Id love to feature you sometime, so please be sure to link back to the party in your post or somewhere on your blog. Thanks so much!


the artist said...

Hi Kara! Just in case you happen to pop by again-I am happy to say that I finally got my linky page partially up and running (and that after like 10 minutes I was smart enough to find your "button up" tab- how dumb am I!) PS- I really like your button!

Tammy said...

those are awesome! Unfortunately I am past the colored pants stage but I do have 8 year old and almost 3 year old daughters (and an addiction to thrift shopping) that this would be perfect for!

the artist said...


I bet that your daughters would LOVE to some new-to-them thrift store dyed jeans or shorts! I can see all sorts of possibilities for costumes and summer ware! When I was around 8, I had a pair of purple jeans that we got from the thrift store... and I literally wore them every day until they started falling apart (and maybe a few days after that). I can't wait to see what you come up with!!

Stevie B said...

The way they came out it looks like you bought a "bright red" dye and came out with a faded pink color. Does this mean I just need to use a more expensive/reliable dye or dye it for longer, or... I really want a vivid color.

the artist said...

Hi Stevie!

I think what I would recommend would be to do a test run with some pieces of an old pair of jeans that you don't mind destroying- to see how long it takes for the color to get where you like it, without risking the jeans you want to eventually dye. The coloring might also correlate to the cotton to denim ration- when I dye cotton shirts they turn out WAY brighter than other fabrics. I usually use the cheap-o fabric dye rather than the high quality Rit dye so I'm not sure what to tell you about that- other than that it probably costs more for a good reason and definitely might do a better job. You might also need to dye them several times and see if that helps with the vibrance (I did this to a dress once). If you get the vibrance issue figured out- you should definitely drop by and let us know!

Daniel Dominguez said...

Don't use tulip brand silly, it is a rip off because the color fails to stay and dyes poorly. Rit is cheap and available at craft stores and the chemical section at most walmarts. It is a similar process but yeilds much better results. For a really pretty dark denim dye use 1 pack navy blue rit with half a pack of black and a cup of salt... the power is in the salt. Mix as you would with hot water in a bucket and soak the jeans for 45 minutes, stir ocassionally. Unless you want violet jeans I would follow my directions as they come from experience (and purple jeans...). Again, avoid tulip. Rit is great, it comes in many colors and it is readily available at walmart. For convience call or go online to make sure they have your Color in stock, if they don't have it or don't carry your desired Color go to a craft store for better selection.

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