We’re talking 7 DIY jean jacket ideas that’ll help you spice up a plain denim jacket.
Denim jackets are a perfect blank canvas for showing off your own personality. Add a little bit of paint, bleach, dye, or patches, and you’ve got something fun that’s sure to start up a conversation.
Let’s say you have a denim jacket that just needs a revamp. Consider this your what to do when I’m bored with this list!
Or maybe you’re in the DIY Or Die crowd and you’ve sewn up your own DIY denim jacket. These are all things you can do to your fabulous handmade denim jacket to take it to the next level.
The cool thing? You can do all of these things AFTER you have a finished jacket. We’ll talk about ideas for embellishing your jacket with dye, stitching, upcycling, and paint and ink. It’s a DIY fest that’ll make you want to grab a jean jacket and get to work!
DIY jean jacket ideas with dye
Ice dye your denim jacket
Ah ice dyeing. It is quite literally the easiest fabric dyeing method and the one that yields the most interesting results. It’s a win win win, and the cotton of traditional denim is a perfect candidate for the ice dye treatment.
I ice dyed this jacket and I think the results are truly spectacular. That setup for this process takes no more than 20 minutes is rainbow-shooting unicorns awesome.
Here’s how to ice dye fabric.
How to ice dye
Ice + dye = mega drama and the easiest way to dye fabric.
Bleach your denim jacket
Bleach dyeing is the undo button for dye, and jeans designers have been using this technique practically since the Earth cooled.
If bleach can create dramatic looks like this on plain twill, imagine what’ll it’ll do on your DIY denim jacket!
Check out dyeing with bleach for the how-to on this technique.
Bleach dyeing fabric basics
Who knew plain old Clorox could be so interesting?
Upcycle old jeans for a unique denim jacket
Make a denim jacket from old jeans
Instead of cutting a DIY denim jacket from yardage, you can make it from a couple pairs of old jeans.
Of all the DIY jean jacket ideas, this is the one that’ll take the most thought. But if you’re committed and sitting on a stack of old jeans, the possibilities are endless.
This is a great way to upcycle jeans that you may not be wearing. As a bonus, it lets you save some time on details like sleeve vents.
Check out how I reused a jeans’ fly as a sleeve vent on this jacket and the waistbands with loops as the button bands.
DIY jean jacket ideas with stitching
Embroider your denim jacket
You don’t need to have a fancy embroidery machine to add a little embroidery to your projects.
In fact, denim is one of the most forgiving fabrics to add some embroidery to. Here’s how to embroider on a regular sewing machine.
Something as simple as this angled roses design would be spectacular on the back panel of a denim jacket. You can pick up the template for free in the Resource Library when you sign up for my newsletter.
Applique your jean jacket
As far as DIY jean jacket ideas go, adding appliques is one of the easiest.
You can stitch on patches that you buy or cut your own from interesting fabric you find. Something like these appliques on this vintage Vera applique trench coat would be cool on a jeans jacket. These appliques came from of all places linen napkins!
And don’t forget about vintage silk scarves. They can be a great addition to any denim project. Cut out the motifs, glue stick them on and stitch them down to secure them.
Adding paint and ink to a denim jacket
Block printing a denim jacket
Blockprinting is another thing you can try to make a plain jean jacket more interesting. It’s one of those DIY processes that adds instant fun to a project.
You can carve a stamp yourself, or simply buy a premade stamp and ink it up. Shoot, you could even experiment with vegetable prints. The good old potato stamp can make some pretty cool abstract prints.
I’ve also seen some pretty dramatic prints with celery bottoms. Simply cut off the base of a bunch of celery, ink it up and print away. You’ll get easy, beautiful printed flowers.
A back panel with block printing could be really fun on a denim jacket.
Here’s the basics of how to block print on fabric.
How to block print fabric
Make your own unique printed fabric with a few tools and muscle.
Paint a denim jacket
Brush + fabric paint + a little time =a unique denim jacket.
If you’re intimidated by painting on fabric in general, know that you don’t have to be an artist. In fact, sometimes less is more.
Simply adding a little color to your fabric can be enough to make an impact. On this sample, all I did was layer 3 colors in random spots. In like 3 minutes plain denim becomes something super 80s (in a good way!).
Quick tips for painting on denim
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- Use a good quality brush. Soft brushes do a lot for making smooth lines. How much of a difference does a good brush make? Enough to paint a faux leather jacket without anyone knowing it was painted.
- Use fabric paint. Fabric paint will dry smooth and not all cracky on the surface of your jacket. It’ll feel nicest in the end. This collection from Arteza has a good range of colors, and the pearl finish would look great on a denim jacket.
- Paint hack: If you don’t have fabric paint, you can use other paints. My favorite is acrylic, but even latex paint works with this hack. Here’s how: mix equal parts of your paint with textile medium. The textile medium is a transparent liquid that will make your paint a better consistency for painting on fabric. The textile medium also helps the paint dry with a smooth finish, more like regular fabric paint. Textile medium made all the difference on this denim trench coat.
How are you feeling about adding your own personality to a denim jacket? Now that you have some ideas about how to dye your jacket, how to make an upcycled denim jacket, and how to stitch and add paint and ink to a jean jacket, which process will you try?
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.