One of my resolutions for 2012 is to never buy pre-distressed jeans. I haven’t bought any jeans with distressing in a while, but I’ve drawn a line in the sand. My head feels much clearer.
After a long search for the right jeans, I have settled on Levi’s 501s as my go-to style. 501s are great, but as you know, there are the regular 501s and the Shrink-to-Fit models. I’ve never had the STFs, but decided to give them a try. Tommy over at TBTYH has the official and accepted shrink-to-fit process, so with apologies to him, I tried it myself:
The reference material and the jeans.
Notice that the length is extremely long – this is because you can expect some shrinkage. With the TBTYH process, expect the legs to shrink up a couple inches. I kept my usual waist after confirming that with Tommy and a few others that had gone through the process. Knowing they would still be too long, I expected to take them to my tailor to have them shortened after the STF process was complete. I’d rather eat that cost and have the right length…
The whole STF process is based on getting them wet, and how they are dried. First step – turn them inside-out. This will reduce the amount of dye that is diluted during the soaking.
Tommy’s process calls for hot water, but I didn’t want the waist to shrink, so I used cold water. I let them soak for about an hour and a half, making sure they stayed submerged the entire time.
After the soaking, I let them drip-dry for another hour. Tommy is right – they weighed a ton. There was a steady drip of water for at least 45 minutes – it was like watching a soaked sponge drip.
After the dripping essentially stopped, I did the ‘drying Levi’s sandwich’, which consists of laying the jeans inside out between two towels and walking over the towels to help remove more moisture. Turn the jeans right-side out and repeat. This also straightens out the jeans for their overnight dry. Notice above how the hems are starting to shrink – the inseam had started pulling up as well. I hung them back up on the same hanger on the shower head and left them for a day.
After 24 hours, they were 99% dry. I put them on and wore them around the house for an hour or so, and was surprised at how well they fit. They were extremely rigid, but loosened as I wore them.
I took them to the tailor and had them hemmed to the appropriate length. I’ve worn them a couple times since getting them back; here’s what they look like today:
Awesome color. They look like real jeans.
An un-shrunk hem.
Notice the natural ‘whiskers’ starting to form only after a couple wears.
I’m really happy with the jeans. I did find them on sale for $19 at TJ Maxx and spent $10 getting them hemmed, so even if they didn’t turn out well, it’s not a huge loss. Luckily, these turned out great. I’ll post updates every few months, as I’m anxious to see how they age.
On to the next pair…I found these grey-green STF 501s last week for $19 at TJ Maxx.
Bonus points: They had a few other pairs of 501 Shrink-to-Fits in an awesome dark brown/tobacco color at TJ Maxx, but they didn’t have them in my size. If anyone finds a 34×36 or 34×38 in the dark brown/tobacco color, let me know.
Special thanks to Tommy at TBTYH for pioneering this science project…