Stone-washing Denim: How To Lighten Your Jean Jacket With Bleach

I knit that chevron scarf myself. I got this pattern from a friend, but here's one that looks similar.

So, I know this is not actually stone-washing, but who's going to search for bleach-washing? Nobody. So, now that you're here...

I'm having a lazy September. I think my last September was lazy too. Maybe I'll plan for it next year, but most likely not. I've only posted a few things and have been clearing out old drafts that never came to be, trolling through Pinterest and dreaming up ways to make my house cuter. I keep forgetting to work on my pineapple project which I think was supposed to begin last month, but so it goes. All of my pineapple plants are at different stages which I think makes it the perfect time to start. But it seems like there are cetrain things that just get away from me, like the month of September, pineapples, regular haircuts, and posting faded denim jackets on the internet. It's funny the things you learn about yourself when you sit down to write about it everyday.

I've had this jean jacket for so many years, because if I ever see anything at a thrift store that says Levi's on it, I'll buy it. There aren't many brands that I'm super committed to, but this is definitely one of them. Mine is similar to this one. So, I've had it for years convinced I'd wear it, but I don't really like wearing dark denim jackets as it turns out, plus it was a couple sizes too big, which isn't a huge problem with jean jackets unless they're super stiff which darker denim tends to be. There next to it is a jacket I've worn to death. It has huge holes in it. Not just in the normal places, but a six inch hole from the armpit down the side. I'll do a tutorial to patch it up one of these days I'm sure. I want to patch it with this bandana I used to have but can no longer find. It's no ordinary bandana and I will find it again if it kills me. And when I do find it I'll buy three: one to tear apart trying to patch up a jacket with, one I'll actually succeed with, and one I'll wear the way bandanas are intended to be worn, however that is. 

Here's what you'll need:


  • I always use an 8:1 ratio of water to bleach. So, that's 2 cups of bleach per gallon. If you're going to leave your denim sitting all day in bleach it's important that it doesn't eat through the fabric. 
  • So, you mix up your water and bleach in a bucket and put your jacket inside. I did mine for 8 hours, three days in a row. It definitely took a long time and a lot of bleach. You'll have to rinse it out in between. You can do this in a bath tub or with a hose and just rinse it until the water runs clean. Ring out the jacked and do it again. 
  • The spotting was kind of unintentional. I didn't tie it or do anything special to get the different effects. The only place I wanted it darker for sure was by the buttons and under the collar. I just like the way that looks, so I kept the collar folded down the whole time and the buttons buttoned.  So anywhere where it's folded even slightly will stay darker than the other areas. 
  • I know at this point you're probably really tired of the smell of bleach but just wash the jacket one more time with bleach and soap in a washing machine. This will help to even out the color. Make sure you wash it completely alone.  
  • Obviously, each project is different and skip any unnecessary steps. This jacket was a deep indigo color, probably dip-dyed multiple times — so it took a lot more effort. You may have something that is a lot easier to work with, just something to keep in mind. 

The thing I like about this is that I kind of gave the jacket a kickstart, but it keeps changing the more I wear it and break it in, just like any good pair of jeans or a jean jacket should. So, if your results are different than mine, all the better. It is, after all, something you individualized. 


Update: If you want yours to lift more evenly, you can wet your jacket first. I put mine in the solution dry.