Sunday, 17 June 2012

TUTORIAL - The PERFECT distressed denim cut-offs from old jeans!

I've been looking for the 'perfect' pair of denim shorts in what feels like forever and since I still haven't quite found them yet, I thought it best to make some and show you guys how to make your own too!
In this tutorial I'll talk you through the basic process of turning that worn-out old pair of jeans into some super cool wear-with-anything denim cut-offs, showing you how to measure up and cut properly without that awkward 'oops I cut too short now my butt-cheeks are hanging out' mistake and finally distressing, to give you the perfect summer wardrobe must-have.

Read on to see the full tutorial and If distressing just doesn't cut it, check out part 2 for bleach ombre here!

It's very easy to go over the top on the whole customisation thing. If I had my way it would be scalloped-distressed-bleached-stencilled-patchworked-galactified-studded-dipdyed-lace-insert denim shorts, but for the sake of today, the tutorial, humanity and wanting to actually WEAR the finished garment, I'm going to stick with two techniques, distressing, in this tutorial, and bleached ombre dip-dye which you can find here.

You Will Need:
  • One pair of worn out jeans
  • Scissors/ Rotary cutter
  • Cheese grater
  • Sand paper in varying grades
  • Serrated knife (a bread knife would be perfect!)
1: Measuring up!
First things first, we need to transform our jeans into a lovely pair of shorts. I picked these River Island jeans up in my size from a charity shop for a couple of pounds. The label says they're a "Relaxed Bootleg Jean" which is perfect, a loose-ish fit around the thigh is best. They're pretty beaten at the heel so I don't feel too bad chopping that bit off and the top has some nice big coloured buttons and a cute patch at the back which is detail I want to keep.

My cut line will be where I want my shorts to come to on my leg PLUS an inch or two to save any mistakes made. Additionally, if you like tails hanging from the hem of your shorts an inch or so is vital and REMEMBER, if you cut too short, there's no going back! Always cut longer than you need - you can make your adjustments later.
The easiest way to decide where you want them to end is to put them on, do them up and mark with a bit of tailor's chalk or a pin at both the inside and outer leg. Once marked, remove and lay flat on your worktable.

2: Cutting correctly and avoiding those cheeky mistakes!
This is a great way to cut your shorts to enable a decent fit in the front and suitable coverage for the back. It'll sound tricky but it was really simple to do and I'm hoping the photos will help explain, if it doesn't make sense just skip and cut how you please but this is REALLY helpful to know for future reference!

I fiddled with the centre seam inside the leg (the bit where the inseams meets your fly & back seam), lined up the seams and pinned the front to the back near the fly to keep in place.
I then cut each leg separately by pulling the first one outwards until it was laying nice and flat with no folds or creases in the fabric, the other leg will look all bunched up and rubbish - don't worry about that one for now!
Cut 1-2 inches lower than you marks making sure not to chop through any pockets (or fingers). Not only does this allow for mistakes, but it will also mean once you're done you will have longer frays at the hem. I used a rotary cutter and ruler but some sharp fabric scissors will do the job nicely.

By doing the above confusing step, the back will sit slightly lower than the front once you're wearing them. Cut one leg, do the other in the same way. Try them on, check they look even and you're ready for the next step!

3: Distress.
I've seen people use all sorts of items to distress denim, the most common being cheese graters and sand paper. I didn't have either to hand for this project so I had a rake through my drawer and found a deckled paper tear ruler thing that doesn't work as it's missing a bit. However, it works PERFECTLY for this - I imagine a serrated knife would also work perfectly which is why I've added it to the materials list! Whatever you use, mind your fingers and be VERY careful!

Pay close attention to how your denim is constructed. The trick to the main distressing is to remove the vertical blue (warp) threads and retain the horizontal white (weft) threads. If you want a natural aged sort of look DO NOT CUT WITH SCISSORS, if you cut straight into your fabric your cuts will look too clean and unnatural! To get that 'worn' look we'll be approaching from another way, sans scissors.

Pull on the threads at the leg openings to loosen them a bit and then rub with your sandpaper/cheese grater/knife/paper tearing thing to start fraying the hem until you're happy with the look of the length. All of your efforts will be exaggerated once you put these through the wash so over time they'll only get better!

Bear in mind the position of any holes you make to save any embarrassment later on! Use a cutting mat or brick underneath any area you're distressing to protect the other side of the shorts. Just a warning, This will make one heck of a mess so either do it on some newspaper or on a tiled floor so it's easily swept up. Using your distressing tools, work from side to side almost as if you're combing the weft threads. After a few strokes you'll start to notice some change and your warp threads should be breaking apart and fluffing all over the place.

Once you're satisfied with your level of distressing, bung them in the wash and you're done!

Huh? You want MORE distressing? Ok, how about bleach ombre?  Like this:

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely lovely tutorial! I'm off to camp next week and waaaay too broke to buy any new shorts--I will 100% be using some of the tips from this tutorial to DIY some cut offs! <3


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