Whether you’re an established DIY Diva or a Customising Queen in the making, working with denim is a great way to put your fashion creativity into action. Denim makes an excellent canvas for fabric painting, and the sturdiness of the material means it is ideal for all sorts of embellishments, from studs to rhinestones to fringing!
You’ll need a few bits and bobs in your toolkit once you’ve decided what sort of customising you’ll be applying to your denim garment. If you’re going with painting or stenciling, you’ll need fabric paint or a fabric medium to mix with acrylic paint. You can find this at most art supplies store. You can make a stencil out of cardboard- cereal boxes work well! You’ll need a Stanley knife and a cutting mat for cutting out shapes such as stars, hearts or even letters.
Another great thing about customising denim is that you don’t need a sewing machine to achieve fab results. Studs with spiked backings can be applied by hand by pushing through the fabric and securing them from behind. Strips of diamonte can be applied with fabric glue, and fringing and patches can be sewn on by hand with a needle and thread. If you want to try your hand at embroidery, this can also be done by hand with a larger needle and a selection of coloured embroidery thread. You can find all of these goodies at your local haberdashery!
Before you get stuck in, here are a few customised denim looks from some of our favourite extravagant celebrities. They’re not known for their subtlety, so they make excellent fashion reference points for getting crafty to the max. Happy customising!
We adore Gaga here at Indulge. As well as her boundary pushing sartorial choices, we’ve huge respect for Lady Gaga’s activism and of course her stellar songwriting prowess. Lady Gaga’s stagewear is completely outrageous, but we can get behind these off-duty denim looks! Rocking up at the airport in matching star-spangled shirt and jeans paired with cowboy boots, Gaga’s starry look is quite simple to achieve.
Practicing on a pair of old jeans, carefully cut out three star stencils in varying sizes. Starting with white fabric paint and a thick paintbrush with stiff bristles, use your stencils to stipple on your white undercoat. Once completely dry, use the same stencils over your undercoat stars, this time spraying over the white stars in baby pink spray paint to achieve Lady Gaga’s graffiti-style denim look.
Gwen Stefani’s been on our fashion radar since she graced our screens in a spotty dress and bindi in the music video for ‘Don’t Speak’ all the way back in 1997! Since then, she’s been our pop punk inspiration throughout her rocky No Doubt band years to giving us all Harajuku Girl fever when she went solo. Gwen’s casual style is as cool as cool can be, and she’s pretty much a denim guru!
When it comes to getting the look at home, try experimenting with different gradients of bleach, being extra careful not to get any on your skin. Use gloves to dip dark denim into a bucket of bleach, after tying twists of fabric into knots. The tightly tied parts will not be exposed to the bleach, and if all goes to plan, you’ll achieve a similar look to Gwen’s awesome skinny jeans on a shoestring budget!
Madonna has always loved a good dose of distressed denim. Her ripped jeans were as much of a trademark look as her peroxide hair in the eighties! Madonna’s early look was inspired by New York street style, as seen on the cool club kids of the time. Borrowing from the graffiti scene and Pop Art, Madonna’s get-up reflected the bright colours of both art forms. She was close friends with artist Keith Haring who even customised funky denim especially for the pop star.
To achieve this scribbled-on denim look, you’ll need fabric markers and a steady hand! You can sketch out the designs you’d like to draw on your garment beforehand on a piece of paper, or go right ahead and doodle wherever your mind takes you. Experiment with lettering and slogans as well as motifs such as daisies and cherries to achieve that “doodled-on schoolbook” vibe.
Miley Cyrus is known for her quirky style, which makes for excellent crafting inspiration! Both looks pictured involve double denim, but the two looks are achieved by entirely different customising methods.
In Miley’s first outfit, her oversized denim jacket is embellished with all sorts of different pins, badges and patches. Keep your eye out for badges on your next car boot sale trip – you’ll need quite a few to get this heavily adorned look! Making your own patches is super easy. You’ll need fabric scraps which you can find at any fabric shop. PVC works well for something like Miley’s smiley face patch. Use a fine paintbrush dipped in black nail polish to carefully paint on the eyes and mouth. Miley’s 3D floral outfit is simply a case of hand-sewing fake flowers onto your double denim!
Dolly Parton is the absolute queen of embellishments. Known for her rhinestone encrusted, fringe-tastic cowgirl shirts and jackets, Dolly’s denim choices are no different!
Fabric gems usually come with two tiny holes for sewing onto your garment, but if that seems a bit fiddly, you can glue yours on. Of course, if your gems and rhinestones are glued on, they won’t last as long as ones secured with a needle and thread, but they’ll look just as sparkly! When it comes to sequin trim and fringing, you can buy both off the reel from a haberdashery. Fringing comes in all sorts of bright colours, and if you’re lucky you’ll even find metallics! Why not try hand sewing fringing onto denim jacket breast pockets or even under the sleeves for that glitzy Western vibe? Get stitching! Xx