Saturday, July 13, 2013

Peet's Dystopian Shirt, Part 3 - Distressing

Backstory: With the shirt finished, I needed to distress it. I wanted it to look worn, not new.

How I did it: I started by abusing the shirt with a rasp and some sandpaper. I also used a seam ripper and a razor blade to pull some of the hems loose and add a few rips in the shirt. I pulled open one of the shoulder seams, then repaired it with the button/carpet thread. I reinforced the fabric by stitching in matching thread around the rips, then repaired the rips with different stitches in the larger thread, again trying to show the work of an untrained craftsperson who was figuring things out as they went, perhaps even more than one person doing repairs over time. After all the damage was done, I put the shirt through the wash, to encourage fraying of the edges and rips.

After the wash, I unstitched the edges of the shoulder patch and pulled threads from the remaining burlap to use to do a reinforcing stitch around the edges of the patch, inside the fraying. Then I used the thread I had previously used to attach it again, with big stitches.

Finally, I bleached and then dirtied the shirt up using a variety of natural substances. The bleach I just used to wear down the color since the green and red fabrics were too new looking. I used lemons, juice from boiling different vegetables, cherries that had started to mold, an old bottle of wine whose cork had started to mold, old teabags, home-brewed iced tea that was past its date, some rust off a few junk baking sheets I had left outside, and vinegar, and tried to dirty the shirt in a believable way. Then I wrapped it up in aluminum foil and put it in the oven to steam, hoping that would help some of the natural colors set into the fabric.

When it came out, it was pretty dirty looking. I dried it, then rinsed it again, then dried it again. I did not use soap, because I don't have a washer and didn't feel like hand washing it, so I'm sure once it's washed it'll loose some more of the filth, but I think it'll still be enough to make the shirt look lived in rather than brand new fabric.


What I learned: I really enjoy distressing things; I think that's coming from the same part of me that loves wielding a chainsaw and the smell of motor oil and gasoline.

What I might try next time: Actually, motor oil might be good for distressing fabrics... I also want to look into natural dying more, the mordants you are supposed to use to help the fabric accept color (there are more effective mordants than vinegar and lemon juice, but that was what I had on hand).

Final Thoughts: I don't like to do things halfway. Even now I am thinking, "What else could I do to make this better/cooler?"

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