DIY: How to Freshen Up Old Jeans for CHEAP Using Fabric Dye

We all love our jeans (uhh, except for us pregnant ladies who haven’t yet attempted to DIY them into maternity jeans), but what happens when good jeans go bad? Normally, I’d donate them. This year, however, I’ve gotten really big into recycling, upcycling and refreshing just about everything. So when some of my jeans faded to ugly colours, I decided to look into ways to refresh them.

I found this great tutorial. Too bad I didn’t really read it again a few days later when I bought the dye.

rit dye navy blue

I had bought two liquid dyes ($6.99 each — took 50% off one with a Michaels coupon) and a powder one ($3.99).

Grand total: Around $15.

The liquid ones had no instructions on the packaging, but those were the ones I decided to use of course. All I knew was that I had to add water, stir and wait and that I, like the other blogger, was unwilling to royally (pun?) blue up my washing machine. I used a bucket and cool water. Oop.

Note to reader: USE WARM OR HOT WATER. I only found this out after what felt like hours of stirring, squeezing and rinsing.

Warm will set the colour a lot better than cool or cold.

dyeing jeans in a bucket

Note: Add 2 gallons of warm/hot water, not two litres like me.

Also, gloves are of the utmost importance. You do not want to dye your hands blue, even around Halloween.

use latex gloves while dyeing fabrics

Time for your cavity check, jeans.

For each pair of jeans I waited 10-20 minutes before beginning to rinse them out. I used a bucket inside our laundry sink, and had a few extra buckets lying around to put the rinsed (in warm/hot until water runs clear) and squeezed-out jeans. The extra buckets helped a lot. Otherwise, many more parts of our laundry room would be shades of blue.

After the gruelling task of rinsing was finished I looked up some colourfasting ideas online, where I found countless suggestions to wash the jeans and put a cup of vinegar into the final rinse cycle. After the jeans were washed (in warm) and dried, they HAD faded from the original darker dye-jobs. They’re still dyed, but I think dyeing the jeans in warm water really is key. Apparently, the vinegar is a tried and true solution for colourfasting, so until the jeans dye my legs blue, I’m going to say it works.

colourfasting with vinegar

Colourfast your jeans with vinegar!

And here are a couple of the results:

Old jeans. Faded and sad.

Old jeans. Faded and sad.

Old jeans close-up. Pre-dye.

Old jeans close-up. Pre-dye.


Old jeans faded pockets

Even closer, pre-dyed. These threads do not dye, which has kind of a neat effect that I forgot to photograph in the After shots.

freshly dyed jeans

Looking fresh! As I said before, the stitching stays the same colour. Great stuff. The ones on the right, I didn’t take a Before of, but they were at the point of looking acid-washed before. Eek.

freshened up dyed jeans

Freshened up jeans! Yay! Junior doesn’t know what’s happening, but he has to follow me everywhere, so that explains him.

Yay! They definitely look prettier, but not a lot darker.

Next time, maaaybe I will look up the instructions online before I dye.

Have you freshened up any of your old jeans this way? Did you like the result?

About Nikki

I've been writing since I was in kindergarten where I Crayola-markered an epic tale of a tiger and a balloon on a stack of lined papers folded into a booklet and stapled along the edge (carefully, and by my teacher). I love DIY, sewing, folksy music, animals and getting out to look at and listen to nature.
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One Comment

  1. Pingback: DIY: Turn your regular jeans into skinny jeans, right now! |

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