DIY: Bleach Polka Dot jeans

Ok so following on from my previous post, here’s how to polka dot the life out of your jeans! This is my favourite kind of DIY as it utilises stuff that you’ll likely already have in your cupboards (yay!) or can pick up for very little at your local shop…

You will need:

  • Cotton buds
  • Thick household bleach
  • Greaseproof paper

To begin, line your jeans inside with greaseproof paper….

Dip your cotton bud in your bleach and start adding your polka dots. (Be careful to dab off any excess before you put your cotton bud anywhere near your jeans, or you end up with fine trails of bleach landing on your jeans) I had a couple of queries on facebook regarding how to get even spacing between the dots. So for those of you that asked…I eyeballed mine BUT there was a degree of method to it. Essentially I worked in rows. Lay down the 1st row of dots in a straight line along the hem. Then moving up about an inch, stagger the 2nd row so the dots are centred above the spaces inbetween the dots in the 1st row. Then move up another inch and place the dots in the 3rd row, directly in line with the dots in the 1st row. Make sense?

Repeat this process for the front and back…

Work as quickly (and carefully!) as you can. This process is quick and your first dots will be bleaching lighter and lighter while you are working on the next side. You can see what I mean in the picture below. I started at the bottom of the right side then by the time I got to the top of the left side, the dots on the right were really bright, whilst the dots on the left were still developing. Keep an eye on the last lot of dots and as soon as they all reach a similar intensity to the rest….

Plunge them into a bath of cold water to halt the “developing” process. Then launder and dry as normal and you’re done!

A Word on Colour:
My polka dots ended up pale pink because the original dye used on these jeans would have contained a pinkish pigment. If you bleach dot jeans of another colour, then the resulting polka dots will also be a different colour, depending on the pigments used in the original dye on your jeans.

TIP: Test a spot on the inside waistband with a teeny bit of bleach to gauge the final colour of your polka dots, if you want to be sure about going ahead. If you don’t mind a bit of unpredictability, just go ahead and see what happens!

IDEA: Cotton buds work really well for polka dots. But if cutesy polka dots aren’t your “thang” then consider using other “stamps” to get larger polka dots or different shapes all together. You can buy stamps from craft stores or experiment with making your own. Cutting shapes out of sponges, felt etc or just look around your home for something semi absorbent that would make an interesting shape/stamp.

I also had a couple of queries about how I resized these jeans down 2 sizes. Let me tell you, I wouldn’t normally recommend sizing jeans down by that much. It was only because this started out as an experiment on an old pair of jeans that I’d out grown. But it turned into something that I really wanted to wear. Yes I have sized these down 2 sizes but the inside of the waistband is a bit of a mess if I’m honest. However, clearly it IS possible to do. There are alot of variables when it comes to how easy a pair of jeans are to resize. There are a few different places to apply any resizing. Β It also depends on the level of finish that you can live with on the inside. I’ve been thinking for a while that I could probably explain my techniques for altering jeans a little more clearly than I have in the past. So maybe that’s an idea for a future post…

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24 Comments

  1. PanicaLab March 18, 2013

    love!!!
    I want a pair of polka dot jeans too!!

    Reply
  2. didyoumakethat March 18, 2013

    This is a work of simple genius. I immediately want to start polka dot-ing something!!! Where’s that bleach? Let me at’em! You’re sooooo clever.

    Reply
    • Miss P March 18, 2013

      I fear for your soft furnishings, lol! (Or any random passers by for that matter, ha ha!)
      Thanks Karen πŸ™‚
      Px

      Reply
  3. Michelle March 18, 2013

    Oooo! Thanks for sharing. If I get brave enough, I may try this.

    Reply
    • Miss P March 18, 2013

      Get brave! Try it on a pair of jeans you don’t care about first, then it doesn’t matter πŸ˜‰
      Px

      Reply
  4. What a cool project, Portia… try it with small stamps, too!

    Reply
    • Miss P March 18, 2013

      Thankyou Monique! I did mention using other stamping tools; be they from a craft shop or homemade…go wild, that’s what I say!
      Px

      Reply
  5. Jen March 18, 2013

    Oh these are lovely! I have a pale mint green pair that I’m definitely going to try this on!
    Jen x
    Teafortwodiary.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Miss P March 18, 2013

      Oh, that’ll be cute! Wonder what colour the polka dots will go…
      Px

      Reply
  6. ClaireE March 18, 2013

    Amazing how quick this is. I’m tempted to try it out. Does it work as well on other fabrics?

    Reply
    • Miss P March 18, 2013

      I guess so. At least on natural fibres. Although I’d avoid delicates and test an inconspicuous area first!
      Px

      Reply
  7. LLADYBIRD March 18, 2013

    Oooh, this is cute! Might have to try this on a pair of denim shorts πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Miss P March 18, 2013

      Now that would look fab….alas shorts and me do not get on!
      Px

      Reply
  8. Sew little time March 18, 2013

    I’ve seen people using pant on the end of a pencil with the rubber on the end. Looks great! I love yours – didnt realise the bleach would turn them pink!

    Reply
  9. Patti @ Pandoras Box March 18, 2013

    What a clever idea = love this!

    Reply
  10. Nelesc March 18, 2013

    Very innovative! The polka dot jean thing is everywhere but I never saw ti done with bleach. I like this very much!

    Reply
  11. Scruffybadger March 19, 2013

    I am in love with this idea! Thanks for sharing Miss P x

    Reply
  12. Dana Craft March 22, 2013

    dear portia
    i’ve seen beautifully bleached fabric with ordinary rubber stamps here before: http://www.untrendylife.com/2013/01/tutorial-how-to-stamp-with-bleach-on.html, but i love love love your polka dots! thank you very much for sharing ☺

    i usually use the cake stencil from ik*a to align the dots, stamping away with the odd end of a pencil brush or a q-tip, with fabric paint on linnen or similar, see:
    http://www.ikea.com/ch/de/catalog/products/40145888/

    but i haven’t done any experiments with bleach so far…
    please feel free to see my painted experiments on my blog ☺

    regards, dana

    Reply
  13. Becca March 26, 2013

    Ooo! I really like these. While I don’t think I could pull it off on pants, once it’s warm enough to wear shorts, I may give it a go. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
  14. Lovenicky March 27, 2013

    This is so lovely and yet so simple! Thanks for sharing this one. I guess I should try that myself!

    Reply
  15. Mega May 30, 2013

    Love this! I stumbled on this post when I was looking for a good ratio of bleach to water to use to lighten up an old pant that I already have, but I think I’m definitely going to try this with another pair of old jeans.

    Mega
    http://dressuponacloudyday.com

    Reply
  16. kanishks grank December 30, 2013

    hi ,Good information thanks.
    Bleached Cotton Comber Suppliers From India

    Reply
  17. Anonymous July 24, 2014

    Couldnt find any q-tips around the house and didnt want to have to go to the store, so I used the end of a pencil, the eraser side. I did the dots on a dark wash pair of shorts, they turned out great!

    Reply

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