How to take the boring out of denim ... with bleach!

I did something so fun yesterday! Ever since the free Costa Tote pattern was released a few weeks ago, I’ve been wanting to find some cool denims to make one. It’s hard to find cool denim though, and since I’m on a tight sewing budget, I had to get creative.

I had four pieces of boring denim in my fabric drawer that used to be part of my daughter’s curtains. The denim is from Hobby Lobby, a medium weight, but not a color I really loved. I was remembering how I’d used bleach to tie dye a solid blue dress once and it occurred to me I could use that technique to make this denim something special!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links. For more info, see my disclosure policy.

How to five boring denim a makeover with bleach! Learn how I tie dyed denim at Pin Cut Sew Studio

I looked up some advice online before I started, but there’s not really a whole lot of skill involved here. Some paint the bleach on, others dunk, some use a timer and others just wing it.

I wanted to try a few different designs, since I had four pieces. The first piece I tied rubber bands in random places and got a circular effect. The second I tied in more strategic large concentric circles, more like traditional tie-dye. The third I pinched together lengthwise and tied a few inches apart to get stripes, and the fourth I folded shibori style. Basically, fan fold the piece lengthwise, then fan fold it in a triangular pattern (not folded in on itself life you’d fold a flag, but folding like you would a paper worm.)

How to tie dye fabric with bleach || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

If you’re wanting a play-by-play, I documented the entire process on Instagram Stories and saved it to a highlight, so you can watch that here. But for a general run-down, here’s what I did:

I poured the bottle of bleach into my bucket, then added an equal amount of water. I submerged each piece for about 15 minutes, then rinsed it out and hung it up. Afterward, I washed and dried them all and they turned out SO soft and pretty! I definitely advise you do this outside or in a well-ventilated area AND wear a mask. I couldn’t find one, so I used a tea towel because the fumes were really getting to me! Also wear kitchen gloves and an apron to protect your clothes.

How to tie dye fabric with bleach || PIn Cut Sew Studio

The shibori style definitely turned out to be my favorite! I have it hanging up in my sewing room still because it’s just so pretty to look at! I already made my Costa tote out of two others, and I’ll post that result very soon.

Now I’m thinking of so many things I could do with these and I think I have the fabric dying bug. In my research for this project, I came across several other dye methods I want to try, so i’ll be sure to take you all along for the ride!

Reverse tie dye on denim using bleach, Shibori style! || Pin Cut Sew Studio

You can create a similar look by using white fabric and Rit Dye. They actually have a whole line of dyes for this purpose, which is pretty cool! They have great tutorials for this one their site, which you can check out here.

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Scrap Busting for Garment Fabrics

If you were to type “scrap busting ideas” into Google or Pinterest, you’d likely get plenty of great ideas for quilting fabrics and cottons. But what are you supposed to do with those leftover bits of rayons, linens and knits? If you do a lot of garment sewing, you may find those scraps harder to find uses for, but I have a list of good ideas for you today and they’re all about stash busting those fashion fabric scraps!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links. For more info, see my disclosure policy.

How to use up clothing fabric scraps in lots of different ways! || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Scrap busting ideas for clothing fabrics:

Search for patterns that use very little fabric.

Pajama shorts are a great way to use up scraps. I made a pair of PJ shorts for Natalie with only about half a yard to work with. I used the Lexi Chick Boxers pattern (adding a waistband per her preference). I’ve made myself several pair of pajama shorts using this pattern because it’s so great for scraps! Large enough scraps can also be turned into camisoles or tank tops. This easy rectangle top is a great option if your scrap is around a yard. Alternatively, those scraps that aren’t quite big enough to make yourself something out of may be just large enough to sew something for the kids in your life. I sewed my daughter a bunch of Jalie tanks out of leftover knits one year when she was younger and they really filled a gap in her Summer wardrobe that year.

Sew Pajama Shorts with leftover fabrics!

Sew Undergarments

Scraps are so perfect for sewing bras and underwear. I’ve made lounge bras with this pattern out of all kinds of knit scraps, even a piece of soft stretch lace. For truly beautiful underwear patterns, check out Evie La Luve she has such gorgeous designs and most require very little fabric. If you’ve never sewn delicates before, those silky or knit scraps offer a great opportunity to try something new!

Use scraps for linings or facings, or other small bits

I love to add a contrasting facing or binding to my handmade garments. There have been times when I haven’t had quite enough fabric to cut certain pieces and have had to sub in some scraps. That was the case with the cami pictured below and the contrasting binding and straps ended up being what I love most about this little top! Other uses for your scraps are pocket bags, Hong Kong seam finishes, cuffs, neckbands, waistband or neckband facings, patch pockets, casings, tie belts, lining pieces, straps, button plackets, hem bands or embellishments such as ruffles or bias strips.

Ideas for using up those clothing fabrics scraps! || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio

Plan garments with mixed fabrics.

I once made a raglan woven top pattern using a lace for the sleeves and a solid rayon for the front and back pieces. It was so much prettier than it would have been with just the solid! Raglan sleeves are the perfect opportunity to use two different fabrics. Using contrasting panels in a dress with interesting lines is another option. Often, running short of fabric forces some creative thinking, so those scraps might come in handy!

Use scraps for bags and other small projects.

We tend to gravitate toward cottons for most small sewing projects like bags, wallets, or sleep masks, but your garment fabric scraps can add so much interest and texture to these ideas! Silky sleep masks, rayon bag linings, denim wallets, linen clutch purses, the possibilities are endless if you think outside the box. Those knit scraps are perfect for a batch of baby hats!

Use garment scraps for quilting fabrics!

I made a baby quilt to gift a friend several months ago and included some garment scraps mixed in with my cute cottons. Can you spot both the fabric from the shorts and the fabric from the camisole binding?? The results were beautiful, the shirtings, cotton voiles, and linens added so much texture and made for a more modern finished product!

Quilting with unexpected fabrics! || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio

I hope I’ve given you some ideas to use up those fashion fabric scraps! If you have any ideas to add, I’d love to hear them :)

Cheers!




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Sewing around the world: Huipil

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

A few months ago I spotted a top at my thrift store and knew I'd buy it before even trying it on. Luckily it fit beautifully! It was just too pretty to pass up and right away I knew there was a story behind this garment. I could infer that it was handmade and that it was clearly Mexican or South American. It's made from a black rayon, there is no tag of any kind, the front and back are the same size and shape and the embroidery was definitely done after the garment was made. 

Mexican Huipil. Sewing around the world

I've worn it often since I bought it and get comments on it every single time! Fast forward a few months and I spotted a blog post by Fabrickated talking about a traditional Mexican garment called a Huipil as part of her "Dress like Frida" series (she has such a fun blog, you should spend some time reading the series and her other content. Plus there is lots of Frida and huipil eye candy!) Thanks to her post, my thrifted shirt mystery is solved and I have had some fun researching this tradition this week so I can share it with you here. 

If you have time, I truly enjoyed this BBC video Fabrickated linked to, highlighting a modern day huipil artist. If you're short on time, start at the 15 minute mark where she starts the embroidery process, it's fascinating. It's almost more like crochet, it appears? 

As for making a huipil, the basic shape is so easy! Basically, it's a rectangle with a neck hole, sewn together at the sides leaving space for your arm holes (mine actually does have shoulder seams, but not all do).  It makes me smile because I have witnessed many children learning to sew doll clothes and making it up as they go, and the huipil style is usually what they come up with intuitively! 

While the main pattern may be simple, the embroidery and embellishment certainly is not. This is a skill that we can all appreciate and admire as textile artists, knowing how many hours go into each of these beautiful traditional garments. (The following image does not belong to me, but unfortunately was uncredited on Pinterest. Don't pin from google images, people!)

Mexican Huipil

You can see some of Frida's clothing and examples, plus an interesting take on her role as a fashion icon in this Forbes article. My daughter Natalie recently listened to the Who Was... audiobook about Frida Kahlo and enjoyed it. Her actual life has quite a bit of adult content, so this version is not for kids, but the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class did an excellent series on Frida if you're interested in that. 

And just for fun, here are some Frida-inspired fabrics! This first one is called Esperanza and you can find it in person or online at Joann stores in a couple of colorways. 

Esperanza fabric by Alexander Henry

And of course Spoonflower has plenty of good ones (people are SO CREATIVE!) including this adorable doll panel: 

By NicolePorter on Spoonflower

By NicolePorter on Spoonflower

I also like this one:

By andrea_lauren on Spoonflower

By andrea_lauren on Spoonflower

And this panel! So cute! 

By feralartist on Spoonflower

By feralartist on Spoonflower

Interestingly, my parents, who lived in Mongolia for several years have gifted me some Kazakh embroidery over the years and the technique is surprisingly similar. I have some pillow shams from India and those are very similar too! The world really is all linked together, no? 

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