Frugal Fix – Get Your Faded Jeans Back to Black (or blue, pink, purple, etc)!

Every once in a while you tweet something that gets a bit of attention.  For me, today’s tweet was this simple frugal girl hack:

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I promised a tutorial on how to do a quick dye job, but first, a story…

A few years back I switched to my black skinny jeans “uniform”.  My reasons were easy:

  1. I hate shopping, specifically pants shopping.  My waist is small compared to my derriere and therefore it is always hard to get a good fit.  Either the butt is too tight or the waist is gaping.  Then, about four years ago, I tried on my first pair of skinny jeans and all my problems were solved.  I have been buying the same pair of jeans ever since.  I don’t have to try them on – I just walk in, grab them, and walk out (but first I pay – I promise my stealing days are over!).
  2. Crack Black is not wack – it is awesome.  Black jeans are the awesomest (it’s a word in my language).  Especially if you have a black dog and can camouflage their fur with your wardrobe.  😉
  3.  Simplifying.  If you wear black jeans, almost ANY top will work with your wardrobe which makes getting dressed (and packing, for all you travelers) a breeze! #NoMoreDecisionFatigue

Since switching, I haven’t looked back.  If you have met me in the past 4 years, the odds are great that I was wearing this outfit or something similar:

FullSizeRender (36).jpg
Yes, I do hike in sandals…

What can I say?  When you find something that works, stick with it.  😉

Anywho, with all the pros that go along with this uniform, there are also a few cons:

  1. Black jeans can lose their color quickly (especially when you wear the same pair every day for months and months).  All that washing takes a toll!
  2. Skinny jeans tend to lose their elastic after awhile.
  3. The best skinny jeans I have found (Gap Outlet Leggings) can be quite costly – $59.99.  Of course, I never buy anything when there isn’t a sale, but even at sale prices, you’re looking at around $40ish per pair.  I know that sounds cheap compared to some $150+ jean wearers, but I am no Rockefeller.  😉

I want my jeans cheap, skinny while also stretchy, and black as night.  Is that too much to ask for??  But how to keep them that way with the cons list above?  In past years, each time a pair of jeans lost its luster, I would push it to the back of the closet and go buy another pair.  Not anymore. Let’s address the first problem – fading.  Introducing my new best friend…

RIT DYE

I have used Rit to dye my jeans once before.  In fact, it was the very same 3 pairs of jeans I am about to dye in this tutorial.  The first try was May 10th of this year, in honor of my then upcoming attendance at Camp Mustache, and I was quite pleased with the results.  My favorite pair (yes, I can tell them apart) has lasted a good 5 months!  Not bad for $3.

With FinCon just around the corner, it is the perfect time for a refresh.  Though the technique is the same, this will be an experiment to see if these same 3 pairs will come out just as good the second time around… Fingers crossed!!

Here is a quick look at the directions according to Rit:

And now, my interpretation:

  • Get a big pot on the stove and start heating your water – the hotter the better.
  • While water is heating, soak the clothes you will be dying in the sink.
  • Set up your dye station next to the stove.  You will need:
    • Tongs (2 sets if you have them)
    • A bucket or large bag to transport dyed clothes to the sink without dripping everywhere
    • Your dye, a dash of liquid soap, and a bunch of salt for your water – see back of bottle for details
    • Patience

You are all set to start your project…

  1. Add all ingredients to the hot water (not quite boiling, but close) and make sure they are properly stirred and dissolved.  Turn off the stove.
  2. Slowly lower one pair of soaked jeans into the pot.  Stir and stir and stir.  30 minutes is good, 60 minutes is better!  Now is a great time to make dinner on the stove but only if you are careful not to drip dye into your dinner creation.  🙂
  3. Once the jeans are done “cooking”, carefully pull them out of the dye (let excess water runoff) and place them into your clean bucket.  If you are doing another batch, turn the stove back on to make sure the water is nice and hot before putting the next pair in.
  4. Take hot, newly dyed jeans to the sink and rinse with cool water until the water runs clear (I don’t let it run clear completely – I let the wash at the end finish the dirty work).
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for each pair of jeans.

Here is the process in pics:

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Soak Jeans in Cool Water
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Add Jeans to Hot Dye Solution
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Use Tongs to Manipulate & Stir for a Long, Long Time…or leave it and write a post like I did. 😉
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Use a Bucket to Move Jeans Back to the Sink and Rinse with Water Until Water Runs Clear-ish

Set aside and repeat if doing more than one batch.  Once all jeans have been rinsed, throw them in the wash on the cold water setting.  To dry, I alternate between hanging and using the dryer for my jeans so do what works best for you.

A few tips I learned from my second go around:

  • Wear gloves.  Especially if you are in the food services industry…trust me on this.
  • Reheat the water between batches.  I did this before but not to the extent I did this go around.  The dye took much better on pairs 2 and 3 than last time.
  • Um – read the directions thoroughly.  I didn’t add salt or soap back in May.  I don’t know what they do, but if Rit suggests it we should all just follow their advice.  They are the experts, after all!
  • Keep each batch in the water as long as possible.  I slacked on pair 2 & 3 last time.  That may be why they weren’t as dark…or was it the water temp??  Who knows.  Try to be consistent and you will get consistent color.
  • More is not always better but in this case, it is.  More dye, less water.  My pot this time around was smaller than the last.  Guestimating, I used 2 gallons water to one bottle dye
  • No matter how careful I am, at some point, I always splash.  The dye water WILL stain everything it touches (except stainless steel which is why I like to use the stove method).  Keep a bottle of concentrated bleach nearby to clean up your counters…especially if they are a fabulous leaf patterned laminate like this one:

So now for the true test.  The jeans are out of the dryer and here are the results…

FullSizeRender (31).jpg

FullSizeRender (33)Did I trick you??  The middle ones are new, never used, never washed.  I bought them as back up when I wasn’t sure if I could do a re-dye on my old pairs but, since I can (and did!), I will be returning them promptly in the morning.  You may notice there is a slight difference in color/texture, but I can almost guarantee as soon as the new ones go through the wash, they will come out exactly the same.  I’m just not willing to waste $44.16 to prove it to ya! 😉

FullSizeRender (32)

You can also tell by the close up that my jeans are worn, but they aren’t loose by any means (I told you these Gap Outlet Leggings are the bomb!).  Which brings me back to Con #2 from above.  If you do happen upon your jeans being too loose or baggy and you have any kind of sewing skills,  THIS tutorial by The DIY Adventures will most definitely come in handy.  If you don’t sew, I am sure you can pay someone to do the pinning and sewing for you…of course, I am too cheap for that.  😉

Now that my jeans are back to black, my biggest worry is that the length of use will lead to a threadbare ass.  After a few years use, I can see it is already starting, but I have high hopes I can make it through the rest of the year without incident.  If not, I’ll just grab a tray and pretend any wardrobe malfunctions are on purpose…

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And, if that doesn’t work, I will have to address Con #3 and give in to a costly replacement purchase.  Doubtful… I really think the assless jeans could catch on!  Don’t you??

That’s it from me!  So what do you think?  Are you ready to take the plunge and give some new life to an old pair of jeans??  If so, feel free to order some Rit from this well placed affiliate link ( 😉 ) and let us know how it turns out!!  Does anyone else have a frugal clothes hack to share?  If so, feel free to share it in the comments below so we can all benefit!

Until next time…

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32 thoughts on “Frugal Fix – Get Your Faded Jeans Back to Black (or blue, pink, purple, etc)!

  1. Array

    You’re taking them back??? Are you still keeping the new ones you ordered online? it’s a good thing sweatshirts tied around the waist are back in! Also, I’m wearing my awesome new shoes today and thinking of you! See you sooon!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha – yup! all our hard work at the mall for NOTHING!! I told you that discount wasn’t enough for me to keep them unless an emergency. 😉 Also, the ones I ordered online were not right. They had no stretch! No bueno… C you next Tuesday!!! 🙂

      Like

  2. Power to you girl. I don’t have the patience for this and I’d probably end up staining my porcelain sink or bathtub. My biggest problem with jeans is the worn knee. I’ve yet to perfect the perfect patch I can sew by hand but I’m getting there.

    What the heck were you doing at the trail head in non-hiking sandals?

    Like

    1. Yeaaaaahhhh…. I think porcelain may be a touchy one. Although if my childhood tells me anything, bleach kills all. My mom literally used it all the time! I haven’t had any worn knees yet but the butt is equally important. Maybe I just need some butt patches! Let me know when you find the perfect one. 🙂

      As for the sandals, I tend to find myself in situations often with improper shoes. Those are quite cozy until you stub your toe… twice.

      Like

  3. Haha- this is awesome. Is that last pic your costume for the party Sat night? 😉

    I typically wear through my jeans before they need re-dying but I love the idea. I absolutely HATE jean shopping for your reason #1 (for me, it is the waist to thigh ratio that gets me… damn you, squats and running muscles). My athletic build makes shopping a frustrating ordeal and I avoid it at all cost! Enter, Goodwill. I buy 3-5 pairs jeans there every 3-4 years because there are usually only a few real options to try on, but they go threadbare relatively quickly… frugal fail?

    See you in Dallas!

    ~Mrs. Adventure Rich

    Like

    1. You know it!!

      The squat and running muscles are something I would know nothing about (can you get them watching tv?? 😉 ) but I totally get the frustration. Maybe if you find some good fit but badly faded Goodwill jeans this hack will come in handy! If not, you are still probably getting a steal on those jeans. What do Goodwill jeans go for these days??

      Like

  4. TheRetirementManifesto

    You never fail to amaze, Miss Mazuma! Too bad I’m missing the costume party, my flight out is Saturday noon. Bring a long shirt in case the back end of jeans rip out before the party! 🙂

    Like

    1. No shit!! That is my next frugal fix I need to figure out. I have been waiting to dye my hair until it is long enough to donate (kids charities only take undyed hair) and I am getting close but the grays are taking over!! I figure I have a couple months and then I am going for the chop and dye. I’ll let you know how the Rit works out. 😉

      Like

  5. kara@provincialtable

    Love the black dog in the picture as a color comparison! And, I have exactly the same proportion problems with finding a pair of jeans that fit. I’m going to check out the black jeans from Gap. Thanks for the tip!

    Like

  6. I bought a box a while back (ok, 3 years ago!) but now I’m tempted to give it a go! Although I do dye and polish my boots once a year. It’s on my FinCon prep list! 😉

    Like

  7. I know the too tight/ gaping fit of pants all too well! I blame my soccer & horseback riding quads as the culprit. Agreed that the stretch skinny jeans were the best invention EVER! Haven’t tried black yet tho. See you in a few days!!

    Like

  8. For me it’s the inner thighs. The crotch of my jeans lasts 10 months tops. I manage to avoid fading by washing them inside out in cold water with Woolite. If I could keep the inner thigh fabric in tact I may just win at life.

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    1. Yup, I’ve had that problem in the past with other jeans but these ones seem to hold up pretty well. I’ll have to try the Woolite trick. Save me some time between dyes!

      Like

  9. Darn girl, pretty good job! The used ones are barely different from the new ones. Well done.
    Too bad I seems to wear out my jeans before they could be up for a dye…. having said that, I have not bought new jeans in over 4 years. Clearing out the wardrobe, one piece of clothing at a time……..

    Like

    1. Thanks!! 4 years and no new jeans has to be a record. This little dye job saved me from buying a new pair. Now that I have a time frame to go with, I am aiming for 4 years too!! Challenge accepted!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Girl, you look amazing in those skinny jeans! I could never pull them off (on account of my elephant thighs), but I’m going to have to think about dying my pants because I do have so many favourites that I threw out in the past just because they were too faded. Hm…maybe I can do it for my shoes too…

    Like

    1. You DO NOT have elephant thighs!! Besides, black jeans hide all sorts of things I would never dare show uncovered. 😉 It was so good meeting you and Bryce in Dallas!! If you ever make it to Chicago please let me know. And when you make it back to Chiang Mai I am ordering elephant pants upon your return to the states (or Canada). It would be worth it for me to fly and meet you anywhere just to get the coziest of cozy pants ever!!

      Like

        1. THE BEST! If they weren’t see through and didn’t rip easily, I would wear them all day everyday. I mean, I did when I was there but I’m not sure I could pull it off here in the states…or could I?

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  11. siliconvalleysaver

    The jeans came out great! It’s great see more people getting creative and fixing small issues with clothing rather than buying new. Good call on returning the new jeans. I’d do the same!

    Like

  12. Dyeing clothes is definitely a lost art. I remember my grandmother doing it to refresh faded pants and shirts. But by the time I got to high school, her dyeing days were over. I’m glad to see some of us are fighting against our disposable society. Bravo, Miss M.

    Like

    1. Thanks, Mr. Groovy! I am all about reduce/reuse/recycle/and repurpose. If I can make something last longer or make do, I will. 🙂

      I was so bummed to miss your chat at FinCon…can you promise to be at the next one in Orlando?? Pretty please?! Suger on top!!

      Like

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