Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tutorial for Bleached Jeans

I've mentioned before that one of Miss Abigail's 4-H projects is called "Creative Touches." This project helps the kids learn techniques of embellishing purchased clothing. The project covers skills such as embroidery, stenciling, fabric painting, adding trims and buttons, and fabric applique. Abigail has enjoyed this project for a couple of years now. She has become quite accomplished in some of these techniques, especially stenciling. The project also allows the kids to explore other kinds of embellishments and one that Abigail has tried a couple of times is stenciled bleaching on denim jeans.

I took pictures this time as she completed her fair project, so that you could follow along and try it.

Miss Abigail used an inexpensive pair of jeans, a Clorox bleach pen (look in the laundry aids aisle of the grocery store), a regular plastic stencil (although the self-adhesive type gives a better result) and masking tape to hold the stencil in place.

The first decision is where to place the stencil. Abigail decided she wanted the design to be on the outside of each leg.

She taped the stencil securely to the fabric and placed a piece of cardboard between the layers. This is to prevent the bleach from soaking through to the other side of the pant leg.

She used the large side of the bleach pen to add the bleach gel just as if she were using paint. You have to use quite a lot of the gel when you are bleaching denim. She went over the design a couple of times. Depending on the stencil, you have to be careful to hold the plastic firmly against the fabric. You don't want the bleach to "bleed" underneath the stencil. If you are sloppy about this, the design will be muddy around the edges.

After she had enough bleach applied to the stencil, Abigail allowed it to sit for 90 minutes. You would think that would be too long, but this denim seemed to need that. I actually think it could have gone longer. We've experimented some and discovered that the heavier the denim, the more bleach must be used and it must sit for a longer time. When the time was up, Abigail thoroughly rinsed the bleach from the jeans and then dried them.

After the jeans were dry, Abigail used silvery glitter fabric paint just on the edges of the design. Miss Abigail loves all things sparkly! This extra touch added a bit more pizzazz and dimension to the "flatness" of the bleached design.

You can't see the glitter at all in the picture of the legs, but the design turned out cute and Abigail was happy with it. The pockets were difficult for some reason. The fabric on the pockets took the bleach a little differently than on the legs. Abigail tried to add more bleach, but the design became blurred. So she added the glitter paint a little more heavily to the pockets and that helped some.

We've not tried bleaching fabric other than denim, but I want to try this technique on a sweatshirt. I think the dye would lift better. If you do any bleaching, be sure to let us know how your project turns out!

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