Fashion & Shopping

DIY Denim (for Dummies)

April 10, 2017

OK, when it comes to do-it-yourself, I’m not suggesting everyone reading this is a dummy. But I am. Craftiness does not come naturally to me—I tried to take it up one year at Christmastime and my homemade toilet-paper-roll woodland-animal ornaments ended up looking very much like, well, toilet-paper rolls (on the bright side, our recycling bin was quite festive).

So, when I was invited to attend a Denim Forever: Upcycling 101 workshop at McArthur Glen designer outlet ahead of its parallel public event (April 15 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., for a $10 fee that fully supports BC Children’s Hospital), I was hesitant. Asked to bring a "pair of pre-loved jeans" to distress, patch and bedazzle, my internal crystal ball pictured me ruining a perfectly good pair of Citizens and ruing the day I ever took a pair of scissors and a hot glue gun to them.

I was wrong.


The workshop was led by the incredible Wen-Chee Liu, a textile and fabric-manipulation expert who took us through the art of fraying, whiskering and decorating our denim to bring it in line with so many current spring trends (everyone from Gucci to Forever 21 is doing it). Among her many tips: strategically placed fading in the upper-thigh area, accomplished with 220-grit sandpaper, can create a slimming effect (like contouring for your legs); clear rather than coloured crystals give you the most "bling for your buck" (they reflect light better); and the coolest patches can be ordered from Etsy (Amazon, too). Also, with ripped jeans enjoying a resurgence in the fashion world (Kendall Jenner recently took it to a whole new level with her "invisible pants"), Wen-Chee says women of above- or below-average height may be better off tearing their own denim at home (a simple process that requires little more than scissors and a pair of tweezers), as pre-ripped jeans often don’t "hit" at the right places.


Following her tips, I found myself crafting to my heart’s content—and actually ending up with a pair of patchy jeans I’m proud of. Whether you’re DIY adept or not, I’m confident you’ll enjoy this for-charity workshop, which includes light refreshments and a gift bag). No denim of your own to bring? No problem. McArthur Glen boasts brands like Levi’s, Mavi, Gap and Banana Republic where you can purchase your new-favourite designer jeans at discount prices. Win-win. —Noa Nichol

McArthur Glen, 1000-7899 Templeton Station Rd., Richmond, 604-231-5525,


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