How to Customize A Thrifted Denim Jacket With NO Painting Experience

Sew Much 2 Wear
by Sew Much 2 Wear
7 Materials
1 Day

Maybe you've seen the work of talented individuals customizing denim with beautiful images they create.Their work has me floored, and also envious of their skills!

After a Bob Ross painting party, I settled on the theory that I too could pull off decent painted denim with the help of the legend himself. Without him I was sure it would be a mess!

Addicted to how easy Bob Ross makes painting for everyone, I knew I didn't need any more wall hangings but thought something I could actually wear would be a great unique piece for my wardrobe.

SPOILER ALERT: This project started as an experiment but was a huge success.

For this project I purchased a small set of soft-touch fabric paints and a mixed size brush set. You could also use a fabric paint mixing medium and acrylic paint. I haven't tried this method myself but I have read if you choose this route it's critical to invest in more high-quality paints to prevent cracking.

I found this Levi's denim jacket at Goodwill for $5. If you're going to be taking a risk remember to shop second-hand! If you make a mistake or are unhappy with the outcome it will hurt your wallet and the environment a lot less!

Before I even started painting I distressed the jacket to remove a few of the flaws such as fading and a small stain. I did this by cutting the bottom, making a few slices with a box cutter, and then using tweezers to pull random threads.

To see the full process of distressing in action, click on the video link to see the full YouTube video.

Once I had all of the tweezing and snipping done, I put the jacket in the washer and dryer. This ensured the fabric was clean for painting and also further distressed the jacket to give a natural and imperfect look.

After that, it was time to paint! I used painters tape around the edges of the back rectangle serve as a border to make sure my edges would be clean. I think this is key to creating a jacket that looks polished in the end.

I painted a thin layer of white fabric paint to serve as a my "blank canvas." I would highly suggest creating a base layer of white or black under your design as it will make the colors pop and prevent a muddied appearance. It also helped me blend the colors easier later on. A dark brown, black, navy blue would look great under a night scene.

I let the white paint dry overnight and the next morning selected a tutorial from Bob Ross' YouTube library. This is where it gets fun, he has so many different options you are sure to find something you'll love!

Keep in mind, Ross is using oil paints which are easier to blend. Your creation probably won't come out exactly like this, but his tutorials are so useful to creating ideas and shapes that look good enough to wear.

I'm going to admit I was worried about how the jacket would come out halfway through the process, and at one point it looked hideous. I just kept painting and as in the case of many Bob Ross tutorials, eventually it all made sense. To join me on the hilarious journey, check out the video I linked above.

I adore the way it came out! I love how the cropped distressing makes the jacket look more lived-in and covers the slight staining that was previously on the jacket.

Bob Ross was instrumental in making this newbie interested in giving painted denim a try. I'm so happy I was able to save this jacket from the landfill and create a one-of-a-kind piece I'm proud of!

If you try one of his tutorials on a piece of clothing tag me on instagram, @Sew_Much2Wear. I'd love to see how it comes out!

This method would look awesome on jean pockets, or a recycled denim bag as well. Happy painting and good luck :)!

Suggested materials:
  • Soft-touch fabric paints
  • Assorted paint brushes
  • Painter's tape
See all materials

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