Saturday, April 5, 2014

DIY: a coated denim jacket for spring

My daughter fell hard last autumn for the coated denim available from the premium brands. It's got great texture and adds a bit of edginess to an outfit. When I took a closer look, I realized that coated denim is actually the traditional waxed cotton canvas used for waterproof outerwear by sailors and hunters - think sou'westers and field jackets - and knew this would be a simple DIY. The treatment will last best on a garment that won't need to be washed all the time, so we agreed that a classic denim trucker jacket would be better than jeans, and perfect to wear now that the weather is finally starting to warm up.

I started with a dark indigo denim jacket with classic lines we found at a thrift shop, washed well (for the obvious reasons, plus, my daughter is actually allergic to the scented detergent used by my favourite thrift shop).

Before treatment.
I looked over the DIY instructions here and here, then broke out the all-natural no-petroleum Otter Wax and a hair dryer. It's simple: rub the wax on with long, smooth strokes until the fabric goes dark, then heat with a hair dryer to make sure the wax has penetrated.

It's amazing how quickly you can see the difference in texture!
In this photo, the left front is untreated, while the right front has been coated in wax.
Otter Wax feels like a really waxy lip balm on your fingertips, and has a slight, pleasant scent.
Let the wax set for 24 hours, and you're done! Here's the finished jacket (total time investment: less than an hour, not counting the shopping time; total cost: under $30, including the bar of wax which we can use for many more projects).

I coated everything but the arms and inside collar with a thin, even coat of wax, warmed the jacket with the hottest setting on my hair dryer to help the wax sink into the denim, then left it hanging in a cool dry place to let the wax set for 24 hours.
To clean coated denim, you want to avoid the use of detergents or dry-cleaning solvents that will remove the wax finish. This means the default suggestion comes from the world of raw denim: seal it in a plastic bag and throw it in the freezer to kill bacteria. Of course, you can always repeat what we did to re-coat the denim if you wash it and the wax gets stripped off.

Note: This post is part of my #30DaysOfMaking Challenge.

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