Goodwill Fashion Expert—Bjorn Nasett

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DIY: Denim in Distress!

Posted by Jamie Klinger-Krebs on May 1, 2015 3:37:00 PM

distressed denim shirtsI like projects. I’m always doing something to change or enhance things in my home and wardrobe. Have you noticed the distressed look for denim is making a return? It’s definitely showing up in stores and runways this spring. If you, like me, remember all the different washes of denim that were available in the 1980s, and then the grunge look of the 1990s, you’ll see where I’m going with this post. Denim is that rare fabric which has lent itself to so many incarnations in fashion over the years because of its resilience and strength. On its own, our favorite pair of jeans begins to wear in all the places we put stress on it. Eventually the jeans take on a lighter color, and maybe even get a hole in inspiration shirtthe knee or back pocket. This gave me the idea to research different ways to distress denim at home, and perhaps even come up with my own ideas! All you’ll need for your own DIY denim project are a few simple items you may already have in your tool box and laundry room. For my project this week, I’m using a western-style denim shirt with pearl snaps down the front. The details in the yoke and placket were what I liked best about it, but it was a little on the dull side. So, using a gray knit shirt that I already had as an inspiration, I decided to distress and detail it in a unique way.  

bleachWhat I loved about the gray-knit pullover shirt was the way they outlined the seams by lightening and distressing them. Who hasn’t accidentally spilled bleach and then ended up with a spot on something? This, my friends, was the idea I went with! Using a special no-splash bleach, which is a little thicker than regular, I poured some into the cap distressed denimand then using a Q-tip I outlined all the areas where the top stitching was - the placket, pockets, cuff plackets, cuffs, and collar. That’s when a happy accident occurred. I did splash a little bleach that wasn’t where the stitching was! So, I decided to do some spots where I would distress it even further. I rubbed some bleach that I put on an old towel in a few places here and there, and then using an X-Acto knife, I gently shredded the material a little to create a hole.  I also did this on the cuffs, at certain points on the pockets, and the placket front as well. Once I was satisfied with how much I destroyed it, I put it in my washing machine, along with some detergent and a RIThalf-cup of bleach. Once done, I dried it and while I liked the look of it, I thought it could be taken one step further, so I reached for my trusty RIT dye, which cost about $3! Since the shirt is blue denim, I decided to use a bright green to over-dye the shirt. This makes it even more unique, special, and fashion forward wouldn’t you agree?  

There’s of lots of ways to distress your denim jeans, skirts, shorts, or jackets such as using sandpaper, rough wire brushes, and the techniques I’ve shown you here. You may want to find something at one of our stores, or in your own closet, so you too can try your hand at putting some denim in distress! However, be shirt examplecareful when using bleach of any kind, and when using dye always follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter. A few dollars and some hours later, I had a super cool over-dyed distressed denim shirt, which we’ll be using in one of our Goodwill fashion photo shoots in a few weeks time!  

DIY style is always in style because it says a lot about you, as well as your commitment to reducing, reusing, and recycling in your everyday life. When you support Goodwill with your purchases or donations you help others find job training and achieve future career goals, and there is certainly nothing distressing about that! Have fun!

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