DIY bleached denim fabric
Honestly, I feel like I’ve been training my whole life for this post. Clothes and sewing and fabrics are my passion, and while I spend a lot of my days hunting for the perfect fabric to match the ideas in my head, this week I really let those creative juices flow and decided to not only hack the Mercer Top into a dress (read more about how here), but also to create my own design on the fabric to create what may be the most unique me-made item I’ve ever made. Did I have any idea how the fabric was going to turn out when I started? No. Am I incredibly thrilled with the end result? Like you would not believe!
So I decided to share with you a step-by-step of how I bleached my fabric, and some advice I wish I had known before starting the project!
What you’ll need:
Fabric! I used a lightweight chambray
A dozen or so heavy rubber bands
A bucket or large basin
Fold your fabric! You can fold your fabric pretty much whichever way you want, but I chose to fold mine using an accordion fold. First I started by folding my fabric along the width, until I was left with around 4 inches wide of fabric. Then I continued folding all the way down the length of the fabric until I was left with one big stack.
Then I used a lot, and I really mean a lot, of elastic bands and wrapped them around until I felt like the fabric was secure enough that it wouldn’t come loose, but loose enough that the bleach could slowly seep through.
Next I prepared the bleach! I used a mop bucket because that’s all I had in the studio but anything deep enough for your fabric and sturdy enough to withstand a bleach soaking will do the job! I then proceeded to fill the bucket with equal parts bleach/water until there was enough liquid to cover all of the denim.
Then, I popped my fabric in and waited! I think I checked the first time to see progress after about 10 minutes, but because I wanted to have a more dramatic bleached white against the blue denim I decided to leave it just 5 minutes longer. I’m so thankful I did that because the contrast turned out exactly how I’d imagined!
Once my fabric was sufficiently soggy in bleach, I carefully removed the elastic using a pair of scissors. I’d definitely recommend wearing glasses and getting someone to help you if possible as it’s quite a messy process.
I actually decided to rinse my fabric in the sink before washing it, just to remove the extra bit of bleach before I could run back to my apartment and put it in the washer, but I guess you could skip this step if you’re at home or with fast access to a machine.
And that’s it!
I was so pleased with the outcome of this bleaching. I think it’s just so stunning! I love the abstract style, meaning that no part is the same. But also that the areas of the folds that were exposed make these semi straight lines which I used as a centre line of this dress. I actually considered not hemming the bottom of the dress because it had such a nice finish to it, but the perfectionist in me couldn’t resist.
Okay so before you go and try this yourself, here is some advice I learnt along the way:
1. Your fabric will float.. I’m guessing that it has something to do with removing some of those small bubbles that hide inside your fabric and also, rubber bands are kinda buoyant. It was no issue at all really as my bleach bottle was still pretty full so I just popped it on top of the denim to push it down a little and that did the job just fine! But if you don’t have something heavy to weigh your fabric down, you might want to consider soaking it in water first so it’s a little heavier.
2. Don’t wear your good clothes! It’s obvious, of course, I know.. But really trust me, being careful is not enough. This bleach gets everywhere! The pinging of the elastic bands when you’re trying to remove them, even washing the fabric with clear water after bleaching before throwing it in the machine. I don’t know how it does it, it can fly I’m sure!
3. Double wash it! This is something I didn’t do initially and regretted it hugely. First of all, bleach kinda smells. And after washing my fabric and beginning to cut it I found that it still smelt of bleach which did have the benefit of smelling clean but it’s not really my perfume of choice – but if it’s yours, no judgement here! Also, I have uber sensitive skin so making sure all that bleach was rinsed out before I could wear it was a must!
Have fun! I really thoroughly enjoyed this project because there was no real right or wrong way to do it. You could do whatever folds you want, and whatever size you want, and create your own unique design. I really hadn’t realised how satisfying it would be to wear own design on the fabric and now I’m so excited to make more!
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and be sure to tag me on Instagram @sewingandthecity if you do your own! I’d love to see!
Until next time,
Want to add this to your “someday to try” list: Hover the image below to pin: