April 6, 2012

DIY Neon Jean Shorts

Christopher Kane for J Brand's collaboration took a little while for me to appreciate, but as the temperatures slowly creep higher and higher, I can't help but think about these bright colors beckoning in summer. I've warmed up to neon in a big way.

(images via net-a-porter.com)

When Doctrine Jeans asked me to customize a pair of jean shorts for their DIY denim event last night, I felt it the perfect opportunity to play with the trend. Read on for how!

Tools and Materials:
Jean shorts
Rubber gloves
Fabric dye (I used Rit Dye in Sunshine Orange)

Cut your jeans in to shorts, if you haven't already. Toss in the washer and dryer for a full cycle to not only get a better frayed edge, but to prep your jeans for their bath.

In an area where spills won't wreak too much havoc (like the bathtub, which could probably use a nice bleach cleaning anyway), fill your bucket with equal parts water and bleach, enough to fully submerge the shorts. Don't forget to open a window-- while the smell of chlorine is reminiscent of summer, it's not good for you!

Let soak for 10-30 minutes, but not too long, as the bleach will break down the fibers, making them weaker. I had some stubborn blue areas around the inseam, so I erred on the longer side.

It's a good idea to swish the shorts around in the bucket, so all areas of the fabric get sufficient contact with the liquid bleach. However, for your hands' sake, wear gloves or use a stick. If you do go bare-handed, don't make my mistake and wear your bracelets and rings. If you do, here's how to save your silver.

Rinse the shorts throughly with clean, cold water. Discard the bleach water. I ran mine in the washing machine to get rid of any leftover bleach, and let dry the shorts thoroughly.

For dying the shorts, follow the instructions that come with your fabric dye and work where messes are well-contained. I chose the bucket method in my building's utility sink-- I don't think apartment and communal living are well suited for doing this part in a bathtub. I also discarded leftover dye in a drain outside because I was worried about staining surfaces. By working carefully (for once), I was quite proud of myself for not making a gigantic mess, as is my usual MO.

My shorts soaked about 20 minutes, and I stirred using a spoon (metal so it wouldn't pick up the dye). Wearing gloves will keep you from getting Oompa-Loompa hands. Once the shorts rinsed clear (again, following package directions), I gave them one last wash/dry cycle.

Helloooo summer!


  1. this is so genius! like why are more people not doing this?

  2. Yay for dying clothes! Great result! Maybe you could dry dip dying another pair? :)

  3. Wooow!! I have to try this, I've never used dye for clothes... looks fab!!



  4. Love it! What a great way to get that colored denim look without buying a new pair. I think I need to hit up a thrift store and find some jeans to dye!

    P.S. I love your DIY projects!

  5. Love it! Not sure I have the courage to take on a custom dye job but your shorts look great!


  6. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Well, I used clorox bleach and did it for twenty-five minutes and there was no change whatsoever...I have no idea why it's not turning white.

  7. Whats the fabric made of? Synthetics won't bleach or take dye the same way as natural fibers.

  8. Anonymous2:23 PM

    I just bought some denim shorts from salvation army.

    1. You ought to check the fabric composition written on the garment tag. Here are a few other suggestions: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080529235044AAqE0nZ


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