Follow these instructions to give your completed doll denim items a fresh 80’s look! Bleached denim is coming back in style now, so even your modern girls can enjoy this fashion trend.
This tutorial is best for already made doll clothes, rather than bleaching the fabric before construction. You want all the contours and texture of the finished item to give the correct look. Think pleats, folds, pockets, and belt loops – all of these give places for there to be dark and light spots.
It also requires a good bit of time – allow yourself from 1 hour to 6 hours, depending on how dark and how colorfast your denim is. My first project, the Joy Skirt, took 6 hours until I was happy with how light it had bleached out. My second fabric used lighter denim and took about 2 hours.
I like to use “people clothes” for this type of project when I’m doing the sewing, though you can certainly buy denim fabric and sew that up! Whichever you use, make sure it is prewashed and dried since we are going to wash it at the end of the process. For this project I used the Doll Joy, Joy Skirt pattern for my first project, and then the High Waisted Jeans Doll Pants/Shorts Pattern Hack (featured in this month's Sewing With Cinnamon topic!) to make a pair of 80’s inspired shorts.
I used this pair of jeans to make the shorts, after testing a spot on it to see how the bleaching would go.
The testing spot looked great! This took about an hour to lighten this much.
Step 1: Assemble your supplies! You will need these items:
Step 2: Mix up a solution of 1 part bleach to 1 part water in your spray bottle. It’s not a big project so you won’t need a huge spray bottle. Be careful with the bleach and you may want to wear your protective gloves during this step.
Step 3: Take your project outside and start bleaching! I used my back porch. Lay out your plastic trash bag then lay your clothing item in the middle of it. Spray the front of your item until it looks nice and damp all over.
Step 4: Now to wait. Give the bleach about 30 minutes to work on the denim. It won’t lighten too much this first time, but it will some. You can spray it again after 10-20 minutes if you like – a lot of this is just done to your personal taste.
Step 5: After about 30 minutes, pick up your clothing item. Spray a nice amount of bleach water onto your plastic bag, forming big droplets or little puddles.
Step 6: Lay your item face down into the bleach water drops. Now spray the back of the item like you did in step 3. Sitting in the droplets of bleach like this is going to give you the great light/dark contrast you want to see in the finished item.
Step 7: Now the rest of this and how long it takes is up to you. I’d go out and check on it every 10-20 minutes. Once the front has a good contoured bleaching look going on, flip it after spraying some more bleach water on the trash bag, making new big droplets to set the back of your item on. Continue like this, adding more bleach water to the trash bag surface and flipping your item, letting it sit 10-20 minutes each time. Here is a mid-progress shot of my project. You can see the darker spots where the bleach doesn’t touch inside the folds, etc.
Step 8: Once you’re happy with how it looks, the bleaching is done! Wear your gloves to take this to sink and rinse out the bleach water. Rinse until the water runs clear. Then drop it in the washing machine and run it on a regular cycle. Don’t wash it with anything else! If your item was prewashed and dried, you can also dry your item in the dryer. If not, let it air dry so it doesn’t shrink.
This was mine when I was happy with the bleaching:
And here are the before and afters of my two bleached denim doll items. You can see why the skirt took so much longer to bleach!
And look how cute your item can be styled for the 80’s!
@forufsuch, for Pixie Faire