Dye, Dye, my Darling!

Last weekend, I was perusing the interwebs when I saw them:

these are the f[e]cking coolest shorts I’ve ever seen.

I found the site, http://www.coalnterryvintage.com, through the magic of instagram (You can follow me on instagram @LA_thegirl), and then discovered the shorts while searching for new summer clothes.

Somehow every year, I end up giving away my warm clothes during summer and my summer clothes during winter. When it comes to the time that I need them, I basically have the choice of shopping or dancing naked in the streets. And my mom doesn’t approve of public nudity. She probably doesn’t approve of private nudity either, but I’ve never asked.

So, it was off to shop. I wanted these shorts because I hate when I end up dressing like everyone else. It’s much more fun when people ask you, “Hey, where did you get your various pieces of clothing?” And then I respond with “well, they are from this, that, or the other fabulous place. Go buy them! They are awesome!”

However, in the case of these shorts, I would not respond with that. I’d respond with, “I made them, bitches. I cannot be replicated.”

Seriously. If you look at the prices of these shorts, you’ll notice that they are $90. Even if I were able to, I don’t think I could bring myself to spend that kind of money on a pair of shorts, when I have such a great clothes reputation of losing them by the time the season was over.

Thus, I corralled GoldDust and we set off on a crafty afternoon.

Step One: Supplies

We hit K-Mart first. We wanted some cheap shorts, so in case they didn’t turn out the way we wanted, we wouldn’t really lose any money. We didn’t find any shorts we liked, so we picked up some bleach and randomly bought matching fake Sperry’s on a whim. That has nothing to do with these homemade shorts. They were just cute.

We bought the K-Mart brand of Bleach, since it all works the same. We also made sure to pick a kind with a scent so we wouldn’t have to deal with the nasty bleach smell. The picture is of the lemon scent, but I picked linen fresh. Nothing says arts and crafts like fresh linen.

Cost so far: $1.79 for Bleach.

The next stop we made was Old Navy. Old Navy is notorious for a crazy cheap clearance rack, and shopping this time was no exception. GoldDust found a pair of white shorts for $6 bucks (she’ll write about her craft time later) while I found a pair of jeans for $5.02. I bought jeans because that way, I could decide on the length of my shorts, and would have enough denim to make them cuffed or do cutoffs.

Cost so far: $6.81

Step Two: Prepping

First things first, I got my supplies together.

  • Large bucket. I used one of those plastic tubs you can get for really cheap from target. Everyone should have something like that roaming around.
  • Rubber gloves. I was messing with bleach, and those chemicals really can mess with your skin.
  • Scissors. For cutting the jeans, obviously.

Next, I mixed up a bleach and water mix. I wanted to lighten the jeans first because they were a really dark color — a little too dark for my liking. I mixed one part bleach and three parts water so it wouldn’t lighten them too much. I made sure to have enough of the mixture in the tub to completely submerge my jeans.

After that, I tried the jeans on and cut them just above the knees — bermuda length. That gave me a lot of fabric to work with after they were dyed.

Step Three: Dye, Dye, my Darling! (Two points for anyone who gets that reference)

I dunked the shorts completely into my bleach mixture. They were completely submerged, but I still stirred and rearranged the denim every few minutes to make sure that the bleach got into all the nooks and crannies. After about ten minutes, I took them out, dumped the bleach, and rinsed the shorts out a few times until the dye stopped running. I wanted to get all the bleach out because it will continue working as long as it’s in the fabric.

Step Four: Roll ‘Em Up.

I just rolled one side of the fabric up and kept it out of the bleach to get the half and half effect. I also used a different mixture of bleach and water — a much stronger concentration, because I was scared of it not working well enough. One thing you should remember about bleach: it will keep working after it’s submerged. Air and sun help it react faster, so you won’t necessarily see the results until later.

You can see how I have half of the jeans rolled up and kept out, and the other side is completely submerged again.

Step Five: Rinse, repeat.

After you’ve bleached to your heart’s desire, rinse out the denim again. You want to rinse them out as completely as possible. I rinsed mine a few times, then left them to dry in the sun. After that, I put them through a rinse cycle on my washer to make sure all the bleach was out. The way I rolled the denim to bleach the side actually ended up leaving a pretty sweet design.

Step Six: Cuff ’em.

The nice thing about the extra fabric was being able to decide exactly where I wanted the length, and getting to decide how large the cuffs were. I wanted to do studs like the ones we saw, but neither Michaels nor JoAnn’s fabric had them, and I didn’t have the patience to order them online. So I went without. I might add studs in the future. We’ll see.



I love arts and crafts days. Plus, I managed to make a sweet pair of shorts that I found for $90….for $6.81. Not bad. I definitely recommend making these instead of buying them. They’re easy to make, and cheap. Win/win. Or, if you’re lazy. Shoot me a tweet. I’ll offer you a fair price for my efforts.



Posted on June 5, 2012, in Artsy Fartsy Things, Walk, Walk, Fashion Baby and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I would have somehow managed to spill the bleach all over myself, then rubbed my eyes, rendering me blind.

    And I would have made the shorts look stupid.

    Basically you’re better than me in most ways.

  1. Pingback: Dip-dyed shorts | Jenna, à la mode

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