Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Red Pant Refresh (Or, how to fix a faded spot AND reposition a jeans button)

A few months ago, my favorite thrift store was having an 80%-off sale on all pants. So I got these red jeans for under 2 dollars. They were actually a girls' 14, but the length was perfect for today's ankle skimming trend, and they actually were a bit too loose around the waist.

I wore them once before realizing the knees were rather obviously faded.

For a while, I sadly thought about re-donating them or turning them into shorts, but then it occurred to me to search Google for ways to fix faded knees. Turns out there are all sorts of suggestions, including spraying them with dye—which I decided against because that would require me to open up my new packet of red fabric dye, and it would be quite a waste if unsuccessful. Another suggestion was to color them with crayons and then use an iron to set the pigment.

I gave that a try. Fortunately, I have an enormous box of crayons left over from my days as a camp counselor, containing every shade of red you can imagine.

I found a crayon that seemed to match the pants fairly well, and then began scribbling over the faded spot. I tried to graduate the color by using a cross-hatch technique near the edges.

After crayoning the fabric, it actually looked more faded than ever, but there was no turning back now!

I covered my artwork with a sheet of paper, set my iron onto "cotton" and started pressing.

At first, the pants turned disturbingly blotchy, but I remembered that many fabrics change color temporarily when they are hot, so I stayed calm and waited for the cloth to cool down.

When I was done, the faded spot was less noticeable than before.

But not quite unnoticeable enough. Although it took me several days, I ultimately decided that it was still too pale, so I did the whole process over again with a different crayon—this time selecting a shade that looked darker than the pants. This got the faded spot to being almost invisible.

Lessons learned: It is indeed possible to recolor a faded patch on fabric using a crayon and an iron (though I'm not sure how this holds up in the wash), as long as you use a darker crayon than the fabric you're trying to match!

Once my pants were a consistent color, I decided to get them to a more flattering fit, which basically just meant taking in the waist. The fastest and easiest no-sew way to do this is just to move the button. On these jeans, that would provide the added benefit of making the waistband look symmetrical, since the original location of the button was closer to one belt loop than to the other.

I had to consult an Internet tutorial for this task, too. I used the pliers method to remove the existing button, which got it off, but all the twisting and turning actually broke the rivet so it couldn't be reattached.

Fortunately, I had a spare button that I'd salvaged from something or other long ago, which I was able to take apart — also using the pliers method — without destroying.
I've replaced the buttons on jeans many a time with buttons I bought from the craft store, and using an old jeans button is no different.

You simply poke the pointed end through the cloth (from behind, so it's pointing outward) where you want the center of the button to be.

Then press the front of the button into it.
Hold the two pieces together while you turn the fabric upside-down so that the front of the button is facing down (preferably on top of a few layers of cloth, so it doesn't get damaged when you hammer it).

Then grab your hammer and tap the backside of the rivet until the two pieces are securely fastened together.

Done! Except...I did find that the process of taking the button apart had pried up a rather sharp edge on the back of the rivet, so I used my pliers to try and fold it back down, and filed it a bit smoother with an emery board.

Now I have a pair of perfectly red jeans with a much better fitted waist!

Look at that majestically symmetrical waistband!

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