Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Denim Inspiration

I come from the generation of embroidered, slung low on the hips, bell bottomed jeans. I hated them as  they looked awful on me so I never owned a pair, que lástima! While I don't remember what I did wear for pants in my teens, it wasn't those. But I do remember being intrigued by the embellishment and maybe that's why I am enjoying making this jean jacket today. I have a definite plan: Phase One-piecing, Phase Two - painting and Phase Three - thread embellishment. Phase One is close to complete and I hope I can get some painting in this weekend. I will start with some experimentation before I  commit to the garment. I am really seeing just subtle blotches of color but evolution may kick in and turn it into something else. In the meantime, even though I have a pretty solid idea of what I want to do, I thought some research might be fun and started digging through Pinterest and Google. I saw some really interesting inspiration that fell into just a few categories and thought I would share.


People seemed to have discovered the Tide Bleach Pen or using stencils and bleach in a spray bottle or even employing tie dye techniques. I really like some of these  effects. I will put a clickable link below each pic. This one uses tie dyeing technique and I like its simplicity.
Simple technique, good tutorial

I would love to see the effect with the arms down. Would it be so "birdlike"?

And for the real artist out there, what could be more awesome than this, painted on jean pockets?
closed Etsy shop, boohoo.....all gone.

This is a fairly easy project, good tutorial. 

Denim, once the possession of the hardest working among us, is worn by everyone today. Denim fabric and  garments are so amenable to making your own artistic statement whether you are capable of pockets with classic Greek portraits or simply want to tie dye with rubber bands in a bucket. So many opportunities and much very doable. 


I think painting denim is what really appeals to me. It just offers so many possibilities and I've always loved painting.  While I am planning a subtle use of paint, like my inspiration jacket, anything goes as you will see in these jackets. Such fun!

You can commemorate  a favorite pet.

Express your faith.

Remember a place.

Or honor a rock star like Pharrell. 

Painting a jean jacket just knows no bounds and they are just so much fun. 


Embellishing the surface of your denim with embroidery has been around  for a long time. And, like painting, embroidery has limitless potential.  Many may feel more comfortable with a needle, be it machine or hand, when embellishing denim garments. An odd thing in my search though, embroidered jackets didn't have quite the artistic cache of the painted ones. Many were retail garments with a much smaller percentage being embroidered by the loving hands at home. Here are some  examples:

This little puppy is Dolce Y Gabbana and I know many of you could do this sort of work quite easily. I love how it works with the distressing of the denim. 

I couldn't understand a word on this page so hope this is nothing objectionable. It looks like a combination of paint and embroidery.

This one, above, is just darling and indicative of the the classic embroidered look I found over and over. I like how they used the peak of the yoke. Many self embroidered jackets utilize the back and yokes as the canvas. Embroidery elsewhere is not seen quite so much.

Applique and more:

Fabric appliqued to the jean jacket base is also popular and really a quite easy way to get a bang of a look and I like the effect. They seem to be a bit more contemporary. 

courtesy crux and crow on Etsy, no longer available

This one claims to be vintage seventies. While I think the fabric and trims are, those studded areas on the sleeves don't ring true to me. They are a much more recent trim development, IMO. Either way, pretty creative. 

This one sports machine appliqued flowers and I think its pretty cute and very doable.

Sometimes just a tiny bit of detail is the perfect amount.

Messy sequins and tears , anyone? Awww, come on, it's only 1650.00. Oops, its also sold out.

Hopefully you've enjoyed this tour of the denim jacket universe and the exciting opportunities for creative expression it offers. Each is so individual and such a personal creative expression. I'll be back with more of mine between carpenters and gardening, dump and delivery trucks, hammers, nails and trips to the nursery......Bunny


  1. This post and your new project make me want to get to work on my own! So many options and all so different. Good luck as you proceed, but I'm sure it will be amazing!

  2. The mind is boggled as to what jean jacket I like best...all have personality and appeal. Of course, yours will be strictly Bunny inspired!

    1. I love the "Pharrell" and the Greek/Roman portraits.

  3. I love those first two jackets. I've played around a little with bleach, a couple of summers ago I bought a pile of jeans for my daughter from the thrift store and we cut them into shorts and then did an ombre type/dip dye effect. It worked out surprisingly well though the bleach did take longer than I expected to work. It reminds me that I really should have another go!

    1. I've done some discharge dyeing as well with bleach. It's lots of fun as you never know what you are going to get and often there are real surprises. I did a black linen piece once that discharged out to turquoise. Loved that fabric.

  4. Now I am even keener to see what you make of it. I am sure it will be uniquely amazing!

    1. Hopefully, but I promise nothing. This is a "play" project and we'll see how it evolves.

  5. This is just such a nice post to see all these very different examples. When I started my fashion course our first project (to get us used to using the sewing machine) was an embroidered waistcoat. We were all horrified (seeing them as really old fashioned). But of course by the time you design a sleeveless top and create your own embroidered effect the class produced the most colourful, beautiful items. Really enjoying this project Bunny.

  6. What fun! When I was in college, late 60's, my friends and I were into this look. We had embroidered denim shirts and painted hippy stuff on milk cans and just about any inanimate object. Thanks for this stroll through memory lane. I might just do this again!

  7. Ah - forgot one thing...I just received a 24-piece tin of Derwent InkTense pencils! I plan to try them out on a boyfriend shirt that sits forlornly in my loft, in need of embellishment. Looking forward to your jacket...

    1. What a gift! I'll be watching for what you do.

  8. When I was in university (late 1980s-early 90s, I bought all of my jeans from second-hand shops. A roommate of mine, who was an incredibly talented artist, painted a picture of Coco Chanel on the front thigh I think it was, of one pair. I can't remember right now what she painted on the other leg, unfortunately, although I think it was James Dean. I have no idea why I no longer have them. I probably went through a phase of thinking that they were too 'kitsch," which is too bad! Stephanie

  9. Some of that work is pretty amazing! I look forward to seeing yours!

  10. Wow! What a collection of inspiration resources. I love the Greek portraits; incredible talent to paint. There are so many ideas and I can't wait to see your interpretation.

  11. You found some great inspiration photos.

    The jacket claiming to be 70s....I agree that the sleeve trim/studs are not original. Too white/new looking compared to the other trims & fabrics. I suspect it's either covering damage to sleeve or possibly original trim. Or the seller thought that being just on the line to overdone was not enough and gave it a final push over the edge. IMO it would have been a great jacket without the white on the sleeves.

  12. Thank you for this post. It was a fun read. I look forward to seeing your creation!

  13. Oh my, this is so inspiring! I am trying to get my little website off the ground and am feeling a bit lost, so I thank you for you wonderful post with all of these gorgeous creations. Carla from Betty Rockwear


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