Monday, 12 August 2013

Tutorial - Customising Denim Shorts with Rips, Tears and Distressing

Rihanna, Cara and Rita show us how to wear ripped denim shorts in style.
Here at Minimum Mouse not a scrap of fabric ever goes to waste if we can help it, so we do a fair bit of customising on pieces that are either damaged or just plain dull, to give them a new lease of life and freshen them up. So I thought it might be interesting (or it might not, I'll let you be the judge!) to do some tutorials on customising techniques so you can have a go on your own clothes. It's so satisfying to take a garment that you don't really wear anymore and turn it into something much more lovable. It's also great if you like charity shopping and car booting - you find so much more great stuff when you have a few tricks up your sleeve to tweak them to perfection!

As you can see, celebrities such as Rihanna, Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora love their distressed looking denim, it's perfect for festivals or daytime wear, but also looks great for nights out. A pair of worn in denim shorts can toughen up an otherwise girly look and a pair of slashed denim jeans is always going to be a classic look.

First up I thought I would go back to basics. I'm assuming you all know how to turn a pair of jeans into shorts (clue- you take a pair of scissors and lob the legs off, job done) but why stop there? Every one is wearing denim shorts these days, so it's fun to mix things up a little. In the coming weeks I'm hoping to look at techniques like dying, bleaching, studding and applique, but to begin I'm going to look at good old distressing. That's taking a neat and tidy pair of denims and making them look like they've just survived the apocalypse... in a good way. Cos nothing says rock n roll, devil may care, effortless cool like a pair of beaten up denim shorts or jeans.

1. Attacking your shorts with a knife.

 You will need a craft knife and a chopping board. As common sense would dictate, you need to do this with care, you may want to wear a pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands while you attack your denim - no one wants to slash up their hand instead of their shorts!

Place the denim on the chopping board and choose the spot you want to work on. Then, hold the fabric in place with one hand, while taking the knife and slicing across the fabric with your other hand. Don't feel the need to press to hard, it is better to go over the fabric repeatedly to gradually break it up. After a few minutes the fabric should be looking pretty shredded, as you can see below.

And that's it. Doesn't look much now, but once these babies have taken a spin in the washing machine they will look superb.

2. Hacking at your shorts with scissors.

This gives a less subtle effect than the knife, with actual full on tears rather than frayed sections, so you need to be mindful of where you do this unless you want your knickers on show when wearing your shorts!

The benefit of this technique is that it is super quick and easy. Just take your scissors and cut in a straight line across a section of the fabric. Then, to boost the fraying effect, take the scissors and gently cut little nicks along the edge of the cut. And that's it! Pop them in the machine and when they come out they will have frayed in a similar way to the hems of the shorts.

3. Wearing down your shorts with sandpaper.

For a more subtle effect to give your denim a softened, worn in look rather than full on holes and rips, you can use sandpaper. Simply take some sandpaper and rub it on the denim. The coarser the sandpaper the more pronounced the effect. Here I have used quite a fine sandpaper and the effect isn't that visible (sorry) but did make the fabric feel beautifully soft, like that favourite pair of jeans you've been wearing for about ten years!

And there you have it. A few simple ways to roughen up a dull pair of denims. I rather stupidly forgot to take pictures of the finished results and have now sold this pair, but once they came out of the washing machine they looked really frayed, and the more you wash them the greater the effect becomes.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and that it comes in handy, I'm planning to do some more posts on customising and reworking old clothes, so if you have any requests please let me know and I'll see what I can do!

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