How to achieve a 'worn bleach" look on new clothes?

I often decorate clothes by partially bleaching ( see instructable Charles Mackintosh shirt. ) . I experimented with diluted bleach, bleach from pray cans, bleach from pointy nozzle bottles. I tried a lot and sometimes to my liking.
I really would like to know how I can give self made clothes from plain material, often denim or cotton, a worn discoloration without distressing the fabric to the point its damaged.
I looked on instructables, and the whole internet but found no answer.
On the picture with the brown jacket ( bought, professionally bleached) you can see what I want to achieve. Especially the dotted seams with dark shadow and the discoloring of flap on the pocket and the hem.
Other pictures show experiments that I did. I know how to make stains by knotting, binding, creasing. But that is not the answer I'm looking for.

Picture of How to achieve a 'worn bleach
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seandogue3 years ago

The bleached look IS damage, whether by chemical or by mechanical means.

If you want to simulate the look, you'll need to start with white fabric, which would then be selectively dyed to affect the look additively rather than subtractively.

You are right, bleach is damaging, but it goes a long way before the holes set in.
Dying in stead of bleaching could do, but the secret remains how to "selectively" apply either. A brushstroke or spray mist don't give "the look"

Yeah... Shame I can't hook you up with some of my former girlfriends from the way way back (1970s) ;) They were all masters of the bleaching method, but I've lost touch with pretty much everyone from that era... You might check in with the ibles crafting forum. There are (or were) some pretty heavy hitters as I recall from when I was more active on this forum, who might be able to guide you to the "right" method. Best of luck!

rickharris3 years ago

Commercially washed jeans are stone washed - That is they put rough stoned in the tub with the jeans -to distress them, the pale white look is caused by the blue threads becomming worn leaving the whiter under thread to show through - Bleach doesn't do the same thing.

i don't reccomend putting stones in your washing machine.

Have you seen this video?

serious! ( as in: thanks for the advice but no thanks!)

Ever try using a belt sander?

Yes, but not on my clothes. I want to change only the color, not damage the piece

Use a sand or soda blaster. That way you can easily remove the paint without destroying the fabric. Here are some instructbles that might help you:

Triclaw3 years ago

<embed src="" scale="noscale" salign="lt" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" background="#000000" width="425" height="279" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" FlashVars="pType=embed&si=254&pid=PJW2plRJKpJE&url=" />

i seen this last month and I hope this link works .

I would try soaking sand in bleach and rubbing it into the fabric or muddy them up and bleach them then wash . if you can achieve it you could make yourself very rich. I have used rocks and stomped the heck out of them to give them a used look and I have also filled them with sand inside out and ran them over with a car till they were well beaten . hope I could help good luck

Ruud van Koningsbrugge (author)  Triclaw3 years ago

You might just be on the right track. Covering the garment with something that resists ( partially) the bleach. like a kind of batik. I don't think mud is the best substance for that. I might try rubbing it with a tea light before bleaching. That's a new idea! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and information.

let me know if it works . also a earthenware clay might work it will stain like tea but resist the bleach and when dry you can knock it off

mrandle3 years ago

I have had some luck in the past with using a knife, preferably a bit dull, and rubbing it across denim. You want to pretend like you are shaving it. This works best with denim. As a bonus it will hone your blade if you sharpened it as well. I don't know if there is any process available that will not harm the fabric.

Ruud van Koningsbrugge (author)  mrandle3 years ago

Thank you for sharing your experiences. I will keep looking for a less damaging trick.

Triclaw3 years ago

so the link/video I tried is no good this is the article I wanted you to see