I’ve worn my Journaled Jeans a couple of times since I created them, and every time I put them on I get great comments and questions from people asking how I made them. The simple answer is this: Grab a pair of jeans, some fabric paint, a Sharpie marker and dive in.
Actually, I’ve been planning to do a tutorial of my jeans ever since my sweet “adopted” daughter (my best friend’s girl whom I’ve known since she was 1 years old) and I spent a crafting day over the winter break together. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it done before CHA or Tucson, but now that I’m home for a while, I’m catching up on things. Better late than never! So let’s get started.
Jen’s Painted and Journaled Jeans
- Fabric Paint. I used Tulip Fabric Spray Paint Packs, Tulip Soft Fabric Paint, Tulip Dimensional Paint and a Sharpie marker. You can find these paints from iLovetoCreate, a truly awesome manufacture of craft products.
- Pair of jeans that have been washed (an important key point because the project goes so much easier on softer fabric)
- Stencils. I used Stencil Girl because I love almost every stencil they make and many of the artists are also friends of mine
Prepare your work surface. Place plastic garbage bags on your work table and cut pieces of recycled cardboard to fit into the legs of the jeans. This will provide a barrier so the fabric paint does not seep into the back of the jeans as you’re working on the front. Here’s Macy pulling out all the supplies and opening them. Kit Kat is being helpful crafty kitty. She meowed loudly in protest when we pulled her off the table to prep the work surface.
I knew that I didn’t want a hard edge to my jeans and that I also did not want the paint to cover the entire pant leg. I made my own jagged edge stencil out of ripped Viva paper towels and taped the edge to the jeans using masking tape.
Next I started to paint a base layer of color with my Soft Fabric Paint using a brush. I have to admit I was hoping for something that had more of a gesso like consistency to it. These paints are very soft and silky, which is lovely, but I had to use a lot of the bottle (about 3/4) to get a base layer. I also put down my paintbrush and switched to using my hands to really rub the color into the jeans. Macy thought I was crazy for getting in with my hands and she decided to stick to using her foam paintbrush. She later remembered that finger painting could be fun!
We let the base layer dry for about an hour (passing the time by making a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Gotta keep those teenagers busy!) and then came back to our project for the next layer. I placed the Stencil Girl stencils where I wanted them and then spritzed with the Tulip Fabric Spray Paint. I had to go really heavy-handed here to get an intense amount of color on the jeans. This was another messy step.
At this point I was not feeling my jeans that much. I had bought my BFF Colleen (Macy’s mom) a pair of jeans for her birthday to trick out as well. I decided to switch over to a new pair for a while and give mine a chance to dry while I figured out where I wanted to take them next. Macy continued working on hers.
I did almost the same process described above on Colleen’s pair. The only difference was I used the end of a paint brush to scratch into the wet paint and also I felt this need to fling paint splatters everywhere on the one leg. Macy told me I needed to add a green ribbon since her mama is a survivor of Lymphoma. (This is another story for another time, but Colleen was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma cancer last summer when I was teaching in Chicago. She underwent chemotherapy and declared Cancer free before Christmas).
I switched back to my jeans when the paint was dry and added some paint splatters and then color and stencils to the bottom back of the pant leg since I wanted my design to wrap around the pant leg. After this we’d been crafting jeans for about two hours and were ready to take a break.
The next day our paint layers were dry so we decided to finish up our jeans. Macy took the Tulip fabric paint in neon colors and made some fun, puffy paint doodles. They were perfect for a 16-year-old. Here’s Kit Kat being helpful kitty again and taking a nap on the jeans. Funny how she knew to lay on the non-painted leg.
I decided to get out my wide width and regular Sharpie markers and start doodling. I would have loved to use the Tulip Fabric Markers, but I didn’t have any of them available to work with. To Colleen’s jeans I added the words “Live Life” and some hearts. To mine I added “Love Art” running down the right hand seam. I wanted to show you the mistake I did to the O in Love. I came back with my black Sharpie after it dried and gave it a nice thick scalloped border around that O with another layer and fixed it right up! I also drew a few more random flowers and circles and lines on mine just to give it the “journaled” feel I was going for.
You have to wait at least 2 days for the paint to fully dry and cure before washing. I gave mine a week just to be sure. These jeans are my new favorites. I plan to wear them to every teaching gig I do, simply because they are artsy and because they make me smile. Living an artful life means embracing creativity in all corners of your existence. Your home, your wardrobe, your way of being. If you have a few hours to spare on afternoon, I encourage you to paint up a pair of your most comfortable jeans. Even if all you do is wear them in the studio, you’ll feel great. Remember, if you don’t want to do this to jeans, you can always grab your favorite apron or sweatshirt or yoga pants. Tulip fabric paints work on all these surfaces!
Hoping you are having an awesome week.