Updated on January 18, 2023 by Sarina Tariq
If you remember stonewashed jeans of the 1980s, you would also remember the craze it was. And the trend for distressed faded jeans never died. Today, If you like faded, distressed, and soft, light blue jeans in the place of dark, stiff jeans but like a do-it-yourself route to this, rather than buying them for extra money and you do not like to use bleach, your next recourse is to stone wash it.
Stone washing is a finishing process for denim jeans. It was developed to give jeans an aged appearance with irregular coloring that looks like natural wear without having to wait years for them to fade naturally. It works under the principle of sandblasting, i.e., using abrasive particles forcefully against a material to change its surface texture and look.
The process involves washing the jeans with pumice stones to remove dye particles from the jeans. The abrasion of the stones creates a faded look. It helps in softening the fabric.
Pumice stones are perforated stones that are made during volcanic explosions.
Who invented stone washed jeans?
If you ask me to pinpoint who invented stone washing finish for jeans, I would say it is debatable. The reason is that many individuals and organizations have claimed to be the inventors of the process.
Donald Freeland of the Great Western Garment Company is one person who has been attributed to the invention of this process. Many others believe that Claude Blankiet developed stonewashed jeans because she devised a similar method for washing jeans. However, there’s also a belief that stonewashed jeans were invented by French stylists Marithé and François Girbaud.
Regardless of who created them, stonewashed jeans first came to fashion in the 1980s, when high-end clothing companies like Calvin Klein and Versace adopted the process and punk rock musicians started wearing the look. Even today, many people go crazy over vintage Levis 501 Stone Washed Jeans.
How stone washed jeans are made in jeans manufacturing factories?
Stone-washing denim fabric gives clothing an aged or vintage appearance, and as people are willing to pay premium pricing for these jeans, jeans manufacturers use stone washing to produce the effect in their factories for naturally dark blue jeans.
In order to give denim a worn-out appearance, the process of stone washing uses hard objects like pumice stones or other similar objects like river rocks, silicate particles, and even steel balls. The stone must be suitable in hardness, shape, and size to achieve the desired distressing effect. Large, hard stones work well with heavy denim fabrics and softer, smaller stones work well with thin denim fabrics. The stones remove dye particles from the yarn’s surface during the washing process.
During the stone-washing process, additional treatment agents, such as softening solutions. Bleach desizing agents, may be added to improve comfort and texture.
The process of stone washing
Stone washing is a multi-step process.
Jeans require pre-treatment before stone washing. A desizing agent is used in a washer to remove the sizing. Adequate temperature is used to speed up the process.
After this, the jeans are washed with a pumice stone, soda ash, bleaching powder, etc. Pumice stone is added in a quantity of half of the jeans’ weight. This is washed for about 45 minutes.
Checkout this video for the stone washing process in jeans manufacturing units..
DIY stone washing at home
Method 1: Stone washing in a washing machine
No, not like the picture above. You cannot use stones in a machine. You need to use pumice stones as they are lighter and more abrasive on the fabric. Start by collecting round, small sized pumice stones.
● Fill one-fourth of your washing machine with water, and add detergent and stones to it. Then start the washing machine and add the jeans.
● Once a wash cycle is complete, don’t let the water drain out of the machine. Leave the jeans in the wash water to soak for four to five hours.
● Then dry out the jeans to see the achieved result. When the jeans are wet, it is hard to notice the outcome. If you feel a more worn-out and faded look is required, repeat the washing process until you achieve the desired effect.
Cons of this method: You have to decide whether you are ready to sacrifice your washing machine. After all it is not meant to wash pumice stones. When the stones are tumbled inside, I cannot guarentee that nothing will be broken inside.
It also needs to be considered that stone washing may damage the rivets and buttons of the jeans and also cuts down their lifespan.
Method 2: Hand stone washing
● Fill a bucket halfway with water, then add a cup of salt and properly dissolve it.
● Soak the jeans in salt water overnight, then wring out the excess water.
● Lay your jeans out on a clean surface, then use pumice stone or sandpaper to scrape the surface gently. Sand all those areas of the jeans where you want the worn appearance.
● After that, wash the jeans normally
Pros of this method : This way you can stone-wash jeans at home without damage to the jeans to a degree.
If you are washing your jeans in a washing machine with stones, it can damage parts of the jeans that you do not want to. Furthermore, if you use bleach etc., these liquids need to be disposed of after stone washing, and they can harm the environment.
Currently, many manufacturers are shifting to more affordable and sustainable alternatives like enzyme washing or bio-stoning to avoid causing any harm to the environment that traditional stone washing entails.
Advantages of DIY stonewashing at home.
When compared to having your jeans stonewashed professionally, stone washing them at home has a number of benefits. First of all, it is a cost-effective way to instantly give jeans a vintage, faded, soft look.
It is also safe to perform the process in the convenience of one’s own home. Your jeans is not chemically treated, making it environmentally friendly.
Moreover, one can adjust the amount of fading and whiskering they want to have on their jeans and ensure that no areas are too faded or textured in comparison to others. Your own customized jeans.
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