Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wasteful Fashion Part 1: Distressing

It's not all patchouli, nag champa, rainbows and unicorns in my life right now so I have decided to write about something not so happy to go along with my mood. I was just going to do one entry on the topic of waste in the fashion industry, but as I read more and more I decided to make this into a segment.
I was watching a show and they were at a distressing factory for a designer jean company. The workers there were all minorities and were taking perfectly good jeans and distressing them. You know those jeans will hit the stores for $300+. In my head all I could think was this is just another way of how wasteful America is. Taking something perfectly good and making it look old to make money. This like mostly everything comes at a high price to the health of the workers distressing and the environment.

"A textile worker takes a break at dawn after sanding jeans all night at a clothing factory in Guangdong Province, China. The blue dust from the jeans is a heavy irritant to the lungs. The factory where this worker is employed uses a wear-and-tear process to achieve the fashionable distressed look for the approximately 10,000 pairs of jeans it produces every day. Thousands of workers labor around the clock scrubbing, spraying, and tearing jeans in order to meet the production demand. China is one of the world's largest producers of jeans."

Long story short if you want your jeans to look "hip" take a pair of jeans you already own if they aren't already "hip" then follow the ideas below to turn "even the oldest, most unfashionable pair of jeans into bohemian-chic attire".

1 If making distressed shorts, cut them into shorts first.
2 Place a block of wood (or some other solid surface that you don't mind possibly damaging) within the pant leg or denim region you want to distress.
3 Rub a steak knife, cheese grater, or scissors vertically or horizontally against the area of denim that you would like to distress. Rub gently for mild distress; rub longer and more vigorously to create more visible distress (such as holes and tears).
4 Take scissors or knife and go up over the vertical hole your make to have the "distressed look".
5 Do not cut holes with scissors. This creates an unfrayed, and consequentially unstylish bland hole. :)
6 Fray jeans by rubbing sandpaper around pockets, knees, hemlines, or any other area of denim that you would like to have a soft, worn appearance.
7 Dampen a sponge with bleach and rub it around the outer edges of holes for a "distressed look".
8 Tear off a back pocket.
9 Wash your jeans.
10 Wear your newly stylish distressed jeans.

Alternative Methods
Take the nail file and start filing away at one area. Some jean "lint" will come off, and it can get quite annoying. Peel it off the nail file as well as the jeans every couple of seconds. Keep filing until you get the desired size of hole. After a little bit, the white threads will appear. Once this happens, do not file the white threads. This will result in them ripping and then you are left with a complete hole and not a wear mark.
Another great way to make your jeans look distressed without completely ripping them to shreds is to use a cheese grater around areas that show the most wear and tear (knees, behind, around the pockets, etc). Do this with a light hand, or else you might go through the fabric.
Also think about different stains; paint, oil, and bleach work well. Don't go overboard on the stains. This is one area where less is more.
Own and wear a regular pair of jeans for a couple years. You'll find that they become distressed naturally, and this way you can out-cool all the trendy kids because your jeans are authentic.
Afraid of ruining your jeans? You can buy jeans that already have small rips, and rub a knife or cheese grater around the edges of the rips until you're satisfied.
Use a dremel tool with a piece of sandpaper to distress seams and edges. Also, you can use sandpaper to get great looks too.

As for my own sewing projects I will be finishing a project really soon and will be debuting it early next week. I also hope to be writing more frequently so stay tuned.

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