Embroidery, patchwork, paint, glitter, buttons, pads, thread. There are so many ways to customise denim, and in a world in which we’re trying to prevent waste and reduce fast fashion, customisation is the perfect way to get longevity from your favourite dishevelled pair of Levis. So get out the safety scissors, break into the festival glitter, and rummage through your mother’s button collection because it’s time for some denim DIY.
Embroider Yourself Beautiful
Embroidery is perhaps the most challenging way to add va-va-voom to your beloved denim, but the results can be stunning. Inspiring Ideas has everything you need to get going; from needle and threads to an embroidery hoop. We’re currently lusting over artist Ellie Mac’s enchanting stitchwork. Working from her studio in Brighton, Mac carefully creates miniature embroidered works of art, which she stitches as patches onto outfits. We’re inspired – handy needlework like this is a clever way to upgrade your wardrobe in a unique and personalised way (plus, you’re learning a new skill). Follow her stitches on Instagram @elliemac.embroidery.
If you’re not feeling too creative but like the idea of wearing denim that at least looks customised, try these flame-filled Sandro jeans on for size.
Sandro flame embroidered jeans, €225, Brown Thomas
Frayed Jean Filly
Despite what your mother says, released hemlines are far from shabby, so rather than enlist your raggy jeans to the charity shop – go with it! Embrace the rip. Frayed edges, together with killer shoes, adds an updated and sophisticated quality, reimagining old school denim trends for 2017. To create this look, firstly you’ll need a stitch picker, iron, and sandpaper (optional). Then you want to do the following and, with any luck, you’ll have perfectly frayed jeans in jig time:
- Turn your jeans inside out.
- Using the stitch picker, carefully start breaking the thread along the hem. Watch carefully to prevent ripping your denim any further.
- Continue until the entire hem has been released.
- Iron flat
As an optional added extra, rub the sandpaper along the frayed edges to roughen ’em up and give them an aged look. We love these exaggerated frayed jeans by Marques Almeida, available for €470 at net-a-porter.com
Marques Almeida, available for €470 at net-a-porter.com
When all else fails, grab yourself some markers and get colouring. Some of the best masterpieces were created on the cuff, after all. One of my favourite pieces of beloved denim is my customised denim jacket complete with some of my favourite symbols and pictures. This was created using Posca Paint Pens from Evans Art Supplies, a pre-loved second-hand denim jacket from Tola Vintage, and a couple of hours.
Sketch out your design in pencil and trace over using the markers. You’ll need a couple of coats – especially to make the pigment appear brighter. Allow for drying time in between each coat and finalise by spraying your finished design with Crep Sole to protect it from the sun and rain. Custom painting and hand-drawing was a big trend on the ss17 catwalks, with our favourite designers like Vetements and Gucci all having a go. So get creative!
Vetements x Reebok 2017
It’s easy to buy a patched-out jacket from any high-street store, but where they score high for convenience and price, they fall down in personality and originality. Aliexpress is one of my favourite places to search for custom and unique patches for a fraction of the cost of a high-street purchase. Looking for iron-on skulls, snakes, sparkly pineapples, or full-length peacocks? Look no further. Be prepared to wait up to six weeks for delivery, though. Alternatively, if you’re too impatient, Hickeys at Home Focus have a darling selection of iron-on patches.
Split It Up
Flares have made a triumphant return and we’ve embraced them. From the flattering silhouette to elongated legs – what’s not to love? Breathe new life into your bell bottoms with a frayed slit up the leg. No rules apply here: go as high as you want to or leave it short and subtle. We love this pair of wide-leg split jeans from Stradivarius, and at only €29.99 it’s a good way to know if this style suits you before taking the scissors to your favourite (and expensive) J Crew pair.
Wide leg slit jeans, Stradivarius, €29.99