Friday, August 10, 2012

Bleaching 101 {Dark Jeans to Pastel Shorts}

*Try this at your own risk.  

I've gotten a TON of questions about my Pink Skinny Jeans. Thank you for all the sweet comments too!  I love reading them!  No thank you to the haters that don't think they're the same jeans (why would I do that?).  Anyways, I decided to bleach another pair so I could show you step by step how I did it and hopefully answer all your questions.

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I'm making shorts this time because well...it's freaking hot in SoCal right now. 

 I started out by trying on the jeans.  I marked them where I wanted to cut, then cut them.
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Here's some tips before you bleach:

-Don't use jeans that have holes.  The bleach will just eat them away.
-Don't use too much bleach.  Slow and steady people.
-Check on the jeans frequently while they're in the bleach.  If they look like they're not progressing, take them out.
-Make sure your jeans are somewhat good quality.  If they're too thin they will just fall apart. 
-Don't try this with you're brand new $80 jeans.  I used jeans that were given to me, so I wouldn't be devastated if they didn't turn out cute.  (This is a great project for thrifted jeans.)
Don't have a Pinstrosity or a Craftfail.


I used generic bleach....and it WAS a great value.
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I used a 16 Liter plastic tub to bleach the jeans in.  That translates to 4.22675 gallons if your doing the math.  I only used about 1/3 of the tub because the shorts are small.  You just want to make sure the jeans have room to move around freely.  It's ok if the jeans are folded, they don't have to be laid all the way out.   Just stir them around every once in a while.  

I used 3 parts luke warm water and 1 part bleach.  They will bleach faster if you use more bleach, but the quality isn't as good.  I wet the jeans with warm water before I put them in the tub.
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After each time I bleached I put the jeans in the washer on the rinse only cycle.  I also dried them each time, but you don't need to do that.  I just did it so you could see exactly what color they were in the pics.  

Here are the jeans after four hours in the bleach/water.  I started out slow (4hrs) so I could see how the jeans felt.  So in this pic they have been bleached for 4 hours, rinsed in the washer and dried in the dryer.  So far not much difference.
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Here they are after 9 total hours in the bleach /water.  Bleached, rinsed, dried.  They're getting lighter, but not white yet.
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After 19 total hours in the bleach/water.  Bleached, rinsed, dried.  Almost white
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After 31 total hours in the bleach.  Bleached, rinsed, dried.  Now they're white and ready to be dyed!
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As you can see it takes a looong time to get the jeans white.

I used Tulip Fabric dye in the color Sunshine.  I think it worked well and the directions were simple.  I would definitely use it again.



The directions say to stir the fabric around for 15 minutes, then let them sit for 45 minutes.  I didn't want my shorts super yellow, so I stirred them for 15 minutes and let them sit for an extra 5 minutes.

I also used the same 16 Liter plastic tub to dye the jeans.  I DON'T recommend dying them in your bath tub.  I dyed my parents bathtub blue in a jr. high tie dying incident.  I had to spray paint the bath tub white so they wouldn't find out.  True story.
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Here's what they looked like before I washed them and they were still wet.  They look a lot brighter than they ended up.
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Here they are washed, dried and done!
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What do you think?
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Here's the tags for you non believers. 
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If you have any more questions please leave a comment or email me at thelittlegiggler@yahoo.com and I'll get back to you as best as I can.

Have fun refashionistas!!

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97 comments:

  1. These turned out super cool, but man! They do take a long time huh?! Either way, beats buying the real thing. Thanks so much for sharing!!

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  2. Good job! I may have to try this some time. I am pinning it for future reference. :)

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  3. I absolutely love these and I loved your pink ones too. I can't believe people were saying they weren't the same jeans. Whatever. I have a few questions. Do you have to rinse and dry several times throughout the process or can you just leave them in the bleach the entire time? Also, if I have a pair of light pink shorts that I would like to dye maybe a gray color, would you recommend bleaching those first too so it doesn't mess up the end color?

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  4. Crazy that you had haters! We love your project. Thanks for the tutorial. If you have time, stop on over and link it up to our Crafty Showcase! http://bowdabrablog.com/

    Have a super week! My teens loved the first post you did with the pink ones and have added it to their pinterest ideas to try soon.

    susie

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  5. Super cute! Will doing this make my legs as skinny as yours too ?? :P

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  6. Fabulous! Thanks for sharing, Amanda. I had started my own version of this project, based on your pink jean tutorial. The update was timely... I had no idea I would have to be so patient on the bleaching step. Anyhow, I had wonderful results... a super cute pair of mint skinnies from some $5 thrift store dark blue flares. So fun.

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  7. The thread did not bleach in your first try was due to the fact that they use polyester thread, not cotton like the jeans fabric.

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  8. I had no idea it took that many hours. How did you get such an even bleach? I always end up with streaks.

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    1. I think mixing the bleach with water before you put the jeans in prevents the streaks. :)

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    2. You did a great job! I love both the pink and the yellow choices I like the contrasting thread on your project and think you were quite creative. Another tip for setting the dye into the fabric is to add a cup of WHITE VINEGAR into the dye bath, it makes a big difference on keeping the color after you wash the jeans. Good Job.

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  9. Fantastic! I've been to scared to try anything like this - but you have made it look pretty easy. I think I might have to hit my thrift store up! :)

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  10. So do you think just leaving them in the bleach until they ARE white would ruin them...I mean instead of taking them out & washing them in stages like you've shown?

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    1. I think just leaving them in the bleach is to hard on the jeans. It really wears them out.

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  11. Soooo cute!! I can't wait to try it! (haters gonna hate on a girl with such amazing legs!)

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  12. I love this! My jeans are in the washer as we speak after bleaching them for a couple hours! Thanks soooo much for the link! I am so excited! Mine are going to hopefully be light coral :)

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  13. How cool! I had no idea it would take so long to bleach to white. Good for you for having the patience to wait it out :) I host a link party with two other blogs. When you add your link, your project will show up on all three blogs. I'd love to have you drop in and link up! http://www.hideousdreadfulstinky.com/2012/08/eat-make-grow-thursday-3.html

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  14. Great job. Thanks so much for the step by step! Love it! I can' wait to give it a try. ;)

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  15. Love this! I'm featuring it tomorrow on my Pity Party. Thanks for linking up!

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  16. Very cute!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

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  17. This is sooo amazing, I totally want to try it! Might be a silly question, but I'm just wondering if you used the same bleach/water mix for the whole 31 hours, or did you empty and replenish it at all throughout the process? Thanks for the tutorial!

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    1. I changed the bleach water every time. The color of the jeans comes out in the water. :)

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  18. Love the yellow color you got! You are awesome for showing the steps!

    Thanks so much for linkin up with me last week! Hope you link up again on Sunday!
    Kristine from The Foley Fam {unedited} Blog

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  19. I've never tried yellow before but this one sure is appealing. Kinda confused though- between the process of bleaching it from pale blue to pure white, did you leave the jeans in the tub for longer than 4 hours? Also, if the jeans were too dark for my tastes, would the dye stay after washing the jeans or would I have to bleach it (I assume) once more to lighten it nicely? Thanks for taking step-by-step pictures!

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  20. Hey! I totally love the whole concept of dying jeans, but I do have one question. I had a ton of ripped and dilapidated jeans that were going to end up rags, and then I thought that I could cut them up and sew them into a quilt. I saw this super cool way of dying denim, and I was wondering if it would work on small pieces of denim that have already been cut in to squares. Would they just fall apart? Or is my grand scheme possible?

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    1. That sounds like an awesome idea! I'm not surprised. Everything you make is awesome! I think it would work. You should just try a test square first. Measure the square before and after to see if the ends get eaten away at all. I think mixing the bleach with water and taking the time to do it really saves the quality of the denim. Both of the jeans I've bleached are holding up well and they're soft and comfy to wear. :)

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    2. I bet if you have problems with the edges fraying in the bleach you could also cut the squares a little larger than you intend them to be and hot glue the edges to stabilize them while they are bleaching. Then when you are done cut off the glue edges and sew.

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  21. These are RAD. Good work, sweet girl! I am going to be featuring these tomorrow during What I Whipped Up Wednesday. xo

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  22. Nice progress with pictures. Dyeing scares me for this reason - I want to avoid a "bathtub" incident....

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  23. wow, Genius! Thanks for posting this! I definitely want to try this out :) wahoo!

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  24. Love it!! And really love the yellow - thanks for sharing.

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  25. I have uniform pants I have made into skinny pants. They're 98% cotton and 2% spandex. I don't think they'll need too many bleach baths because they're already tan... But they do have chunky pockets that might pose a problem. Do you think the blend will hold up okay if I do have to bleach them multiple times to get an even color?

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    1. I can't say about the pockets, but I recommend being careful with spandex -- the bleach might eat it away, and then your jeans will break apart or at least won't be stretchy anymore. This might not happen with all the spandex-cloth, though, so if you are willing to take the risk, it might work out, too. :)

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  26. Love this, it's an awesome way to refurbish my daughters clothes. One question when bleaching the jeans each time you take them out are you using the same bleach water mix?

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    1. No, I changed it every time. The color from the jeans bleeds in the water.

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  27. Super wicked! Love this technique hope mine turn out as cool as yours. B-)

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  28. What a great tutorial, thanks!! My past bleaching projects have been less than successful and now I think I know why - I didn't bleach them long enough. Woohoo! Ignore the haters - their disbelief made me laugh because it's so silly of them...thanks!!

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  29. One question: would you say you got an even enough white from bleaching that they could be wearable as just white? They look great in pictures but it's always a little harder to tell. I would absolutely LOVE a pair of white skinnies and I have a few faded old pairs that I'd consider this.

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    1. I think you can get a nice white. It's just hard to tell when to take them out before they get a hint of yellow. I've always dyed them, so I haven't tried to get a great white yet. Maybe that's next on the list! :)

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  30. no one has mentioned this yet. polyester and poly blends are very difficult to dye. you have to have super high heat to get the dye to attach to the poly fibers. procion makes a poly dye, and you would have to cook it on the stove to get the fibers to dye. it is best to stick with 100% cotton for dye projects like this.
    this tutorial is fabulous, and now we know what a size 0 looks like [for those of us who can only imagine]

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  31. I really like these with the "reverse stiching!" These look great!

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  32. Excuse me, but when you say 5 more hours ,12 more hours, etc. did u mean that you added 4 hours to that 5, 12, 31 or did you just leave them for a total of 31 hours, 12 hours

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  33. How do I modify these directions to go from dark wash jeans to say a darker/more saturated hue than pastel?

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    1. I would love to get my hands on a pair dark green jeans, but the extra low rise that they're being manufactured in, plus $$ is not in the budget for awhile. Thought I could dye it myself using your tutorial, since I've got a few extra pairs of regular jeans.

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    2. If you are going for a darker color, your jeans do not need to be white-white in order for the color to show. I would try to get down to a lighter blue and then use a green dye that is a touch yellower in tone than you want your finished product to be.

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  34. excite super excited to try this! I am dying for a pair if red jeans but my hips and thighs not going to look great in skinny jeans and that's all I can find in colored jeans. How does the dye do about rubbing off on things . U haven't had it rub off on ur couch or anything have u?

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  35. Help! I am in the process of bleaching a pair of initially very dark blue skinny jeans. I'm only 12 hours into the bleaching process, and have been doing 3-4 cups of bleach for about 4-5 gallons of water like you said. Right now, the jeans are a sort of yellowish color. Is this normal??? None of the ones you showed in pictures looked yellow, just various shades of blue until they turned white. Please let me know if I'm on the right track!! Thanks :)

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  36. I saw this on Pinterest and thought the before/after was a fashion makeover or something. When I realized it was the same jeans my mind was blown! You've inspired me to be more resourceful. I just ordered $200 of clothes from Target yesterday, including pink jeans :\

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  37. I had seen this done before with just white Jeans so I was wondering if you could just bleach it and now you have confirmed it! I don't wear pants though so would it work on a Jean skirt? Thanks

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  38. I'm using this tutorial to make my once VERY DARK blue jeans to white (done!) and now purple. I want a light purple, like lavender, so I'm hoping if I follow the same 15 & 5 minute limit that you did, I will get the desired color. If not - OH WELL - purple is my favorite color anyway xD

    Thank you for this AWESOME tutorial! If these jeans work well I may do this to another pair!!

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  39. Have you worked with orange or red dye? I would like to have some rust colored and orange pants for fall, but I'm a little bit afraid of experimenting.
    .

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  40. Wow! It is a great tutorial, because is the only one i've found that tells about the bleaching process, every other post says "you bleach the jeans" and that's it!(They dont show the procces or tell the enormous amount of time it takes to get them white) It's great you took the time to take a picture every time you took them out of the bleach!
    I had an old pair of white jeans and i dyed them orange, and now im bleaching a pair of not-so-dark blue ones into hot pink!
    Thanks again! Great post!

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  41. This is such a good idea! I went down to Platos Closet and bought some cheep jeans that were already pretty well washed out and am going to do the steps you put to dye them! Thanks for this!

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  42. I love this! I do have a Q. DO the jeans have to be 100% white all over or is it ok to go ahead and dye them if there are some sploches here and there?

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  43. I was wondering what you think about mixing an orange and pink dye to get a coral color dye? I really want some coral pants but i can't find any that are the shade I want plus i cant find a dye thats coral either. Just let me know what you think! Thanks!

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  44. Do the jeans have to be dry before you wash them or do you just go ahead and wash them while they are still wet?

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  45. It's weird that the stitching around the button goes from blue to black after being bleached.

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  46. this is awesome .... but question: wouldnt bleaching cause ALL the colors to at least fade?? i noticed the tag that says "stretch" stayed the same color as did the black threading near the pockets. and the little hollister symbol on the pocket area also stayed red??

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  47. Anonymous...Bleach does not effect the polyester in the tags or the thread.

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  48. Have you tried the RIT dye REMOVER? It will "bleach up" almost ANYTHING to a real true white... for when your'e ready to try those white skinies! Good luck! (It's also not as hard on the fabric).

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    1. Rit Dye remover does not work on jeans.

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  49. I am currently bleaching jeans right now, but I also made them into skinny jeans and when I did, I drew a line of sharpie to sew on and it looks like it's bleeding through... What should I do?
    (PS I used blue sharpie not black)

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  50. love this.. brought back forgotten memories of high school.. bleaching my jeans (acid washed look)and tye dying.. then my mom would rip out the inseam and resew them skinny.. so skinny in fact I'd have to take them off inside out, there was no way those were coming off any other way LOL ..those were great fun memories.. can't wait to do this again, THANKS!!

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  51. I have a pair of light jeans like if they were bleached how long do you think i would have to bleach them to make them white ????

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  52. Ignore the haters....There are just people out there who have to be hateful. I love this idea. I think I might get a pare of my kids old/icky jeans and try it out on those first. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

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  53. So cool!! I totally laughed at the pinstrosity's and craftfail's. Feel sad for those guys who tried it out. :)

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  54. I don't think I have the time and energy for all that bleaching, but I'm going to keep an eye out at the thrift store for some white jeans to cut off and dye! I love the colored shorts I see at the mall but I balk at shelling out so much money for them. Thanks for the idea!

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  55. I accidentally got cleaning bleach, will that affect the result?

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  56. I'm trying this now and I also looked at the other time you dyed it and it looks nice. I thought this was a good idea since i really cant find any white jeans that I like.

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  57. I did this with my pants and I made them from a dark blue to almost white. I don't mind it being like a cloudy gray, it actually looks cool. I'm about to bleach another pair of pants too that were messed up.

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  58. I LOVE your blog! I found the other post about re-dyeing old skinnies a while ago on pinterest and I'm just now getting around to making them! I also made the accident of dip-dyeing shorts with holes in them and they just fell right apart (Oops!), but anway, i just wanted to say that ilove this blog, super cute!

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  59. The crazy accusations and weird in depth questions is exactly why bloggers hate doing step by step tutorials.
    Y'all need to CHILL.
    If you want them darker...dye them a darker color and leave them longer or....READ THE DYE DIRECTIONS.
    If you want them lighter...leave them in a shorter amount of time. Remember wet stuff always LOOKS darker than when it's dry.
    Don't use $80 jeans. Go to the freakin' thrift store.
    Jeez...the poor girl is trying to share something cool and y'all act like her last name is Rit (as in Rit dye company) Let's give her a break already!

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  60. Why do you even bother proving anything to anyone. If they don´t believe, well...
    Great job!

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  61. Awesome! I never think of neat ideas like this and usually end up giving my jeans away or just hanging them up & never taking them back out!
    They turned out awesome, but I would probably forgot to take them out, especially since its a lengthy process.
    I'm def. going to try this though!!
    Thanks for the great instructions!
    Peace & Love!

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  62. SO cute! You make it seem easy enough. Don't know if I'd be brave enough to do it tho. Cute jeans! :o)

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  63. Great but where can I buy fabri dye

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  64. This is so awesome! I just picked up a couple of second hand jeans at the flea market, I am SO going to try this! Thanks for the tutorial and hugs from Belgium :)

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  65. how have your shorts held up? (:
    I've had mine in the bleach going on day three, and they're just about ready to dye!

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    Replies
    1. Yes! I wore them all last summer and they still look and feel new. Have fun! :)

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    2. I got my shorts at a thrift store, and I think they were a little too worn before I got them! The bleach ate right through them! I'll probably have to find a really cheap newer pair of jeans and see if that helps.

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  66. Looks good. Thanks for taking the time to post. Will try.

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  67. These look great! i tried bleaching a pair of jeans i was going to throw away but decided to turn them into shorts. when i bleached them they turned beige! i dont know what to do, i dont want to throw them away because they look REALLY cute except for the color ! any ideas? should i just try to dye them and see what color i get? Well thanks (:

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  68. I so can't wait to do this so a few of my jeans.

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  69. Thanks soooo much for your DIY break down. I'm currently in the bleaching process. Things are looking great so far!!!!

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  70. I've written this around here as an answer for a couple of guys, and I think someone wrote a bit about the same matter, but I'll go once more, because I think you should add this on your "warnings". :)

    Bleaching works best on 100 % cotton materials. Polyester and other manmade materials will not bleach, or they'll turn into ugly yellowish colours. If the cloth has elastic material (spandex, elasthane) in it, the bleach will most probably eat the elastic away, and you'll end up with jeans that break apart or won't, at least, be stretchy anymore (so they'll turn HUGE).

    I have a degree in fashion design, and I've also done my own experiments in the past... :P

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  71. oh my gosh!! Totally pinning and trying!!! Thanks for sharing!!! c:

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  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  73. Just a few suggestions from a chemist to keep your jeans from falling apart :) I agree with akutati, you must use 100% cotton jeans. If they contain spandex, the bleach will destroy it and your jeans will disintegrate. Or a huge hole will tear in the backside the first time your bend over in them. Don't ask how I know this :P

    Also, bleach contains sodium hydroxide which is very caustic. Even with rinsing, some still remains in the fabric and continues to eat away at the fibers. You need to neutralize it with an acid such as vinegar. After thoroughly rinsing them, soak the jeans in several gallons of water and about a cup of household vinegar.

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  74. When doing this with levi jeans.. how do i prevent the bleach and dye from bleaching and dying the levi label on the back?

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  75. Have you ever dyed fading jeans blue again so that they look new and not faded?

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  76. If this is a real tutorial then why is it that the bleach didn't fade the tag, stitching or the Hollister eagle? Looks like 3 different pairs of jeans to me.

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    1. Jenae...
      1. Cotton bleaches & fades. 2. Polyester & synthetic fibers DON'T. 3. Tags are made of synthetics. SO THEY WON'T EVER FADE WHEN REPEATED WASHING / BLEACHING.
      4. Don't be lazy and try it instead of taking the easy way of not thinking by yourself.

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  77. The content on your web site never confuses me. Keep it up!!
    bubblegum casting

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  78. Hey just wondering do you have to take them out if you know the desired color? Or can you just let them sit for the 19 hours straight

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  79. Oh wow I love them! They turned out really good!

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  80. I did this only I wanted super faded blue, because I frayed the bottoms and then added vintage lace to the sides...I get compliments every time I wear them!

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    1. So cute! I'm gonna make some like watermelons :) I saw this pic on pintrest and fell in love with them :D

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  81. Wow this is a really cool idea. Great job documenting the whole process!

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