SharpThreads Q & A

In this article:

  • Fading new blue jeans.
  • Patching jeans with holes — the easy way.
  • Buying the perfect-fitting jeans — and avoiding “shrinkage.”

Got a wardrobe question? The SharpThreads Guy can answer it. WRITE STG This week the SharpThreads Guy answers questions about the SharpMan’s favorite wardrobe item — blue jeans:

“I Just Want to Dye”

I have a pair of jeans that I never wear because they look too “new.” I’ve heard there’s a way to fade them in the washing machine. How do I do this?

Garland, TX

SharpThreads Guy: Yes, you can fade jeans artificially, but realize that the results will be slightly different than if the indigo-blue dye faded naturally over time. To fade jeans, skip the washing machine — too hard to tell what the heck is going on in there, so your chances of bleaching your jeans evenly are slim.

Instead, fill a bathtub with about eight inches of water and, using a pair of waterproof gloves, pour in between a quart to half a gallon of bleach (depending on how much you’d like to fade your jeans). Realize that the more bleach you put in, the more you’ll weaken the denim. Take a long stick (like the kind given out in paint stores) or some other disposable tool and stir the bleach in thoroughly. Be careful not to splash on yourself, or you’ll get bleach spots on whatever you’re wearing.

Add your jeans into the mix by laying them out flat — no folds, twists, or wrinkles. Any of these will cause your jeans to lighten unevenly. With your tool, poke the jeans down so that they are submerged. Turn them every five minutes or so — again, laying then down flat. Check the color after a half-hour of turning. Take the jeans out about two shades before the one you want (fabric looks darker when wet). Rinse the jeans in cold water — three times — and then hang them over the shower to dry. Drip-drying is best to ensure that dye doesn’t accumulate in the folds.

Once dry, you’ll notice they stink — bad. Throw them in the washing machine and then into the dryer. Use good-smelling dryer sheets to help with the smell.

Patch Power

I need to patch up some jeans with big holes in the knees. It seems like every time I wear them they get even worse. Is there a difference between the outside patches and the other way jeans are mended? The patches look kind of stupid.

Lakewood, CO

SharpThreads Guy: Quick, patch up. The more you wear a pair of jeans with a well-placed hole, the faster and more out of control the hole will grow to be. There’s no real difference between visible patches and the kind that are sewn on the inside of the garment. The “inside” style is more discreet, and usually requires a patch two to three times the size of the whole, usually, the same color as the jeans, sewn many times around the whole and then around the perimeter. But why bother doing all that work yourself? For a couple of bucks, any local dry cleaner will patch your jeans — fast.


I recently bought a great-fitting pair of Levi’s only to have them shrink once I washed them. What’s up with that? Is there some special way to dry jeans?

Peoria, AZ

SharpThreads Guy: Sounds like you bought 501s — the most popular cut of Levi’s, but also one of the only styles sold by Levi’s that do not come pre-shrunk (other styles are guaranteed not to shrink more than 3 percent). 501s must be purchased large, about an extra inch at the waist and an extra two inches long in the inseam (leg length). Give the small pair to a shorter SharpMan and better luck next time