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Tips & Tricks Fabric weathering

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by Janz_Walker, Sep 27, 2003.

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  1. Janz_Walker

    Janz_Walker Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 9, 2000
    I was just wondering if any of you had any tips on weathering fabric to make it look like it's been through a lot.

    One costume needs to look like the wearer has been on a deserted planet for a year or two.

    And the other needs to look like it's spent a year in a coal mine. :)


    EDIT: I must also say that the fabric is the type of stuff you'd find on the bargain rack at Joann's.

    S_S edit: just unlocking

    FERDALUMP Jedi Youngling star 3

    May 12, 2002
    Not to make it sound too easy--but basically you have to put it through a lot. Twist and coil the material--wad it up, tie knots in it--throw it in a hot water bath and maybe even wash and dry it a few times. You can then take sharp rocks and maybe a brick and beat the fabric. Even wrap a rock in the material and beat it into the ground. If you make holes in the material wash it to make the holes fray out a bit. You can also add a lot of weather and such with painting techniques. Dry brushes and paint mixed with dirt work well. Give a fine mist with spray paint is rough uneven strokes. Tea or coffee can be used to add age and "stains" to the material too. For a coal mine look BBQ charcoal would simmulate coal well.

    Hope that helps!

    Ferd :) request:
    I need to make velvet (dark green) appear to be aged. I don't want to crush the nap or tear or paint the material--but I want it to appear as though it has been exposed to the sun a lot, and like it isn't fresh off the store rack. Make sense?
    Please help! Any suggestions would be great!

  3. DarthJurist

    DarthJurist Admin Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Dec 10, 2000
    For 'severe' weathering, try sandpaper, cheese graters, or even a blowtorch (check cooking stores for small ones used in cooking) in addition to all the suggestions made above. The sandpaper and grater will give the fabric a frayed look, and be sure to do it unevenly, but then also put some where fabric naturally wear... knees, elbows, front of shirt, shoulders, etc.

    [link=]Here's [/link] a page with some detailed ideas.

    As for the velvet... I was going to suggest light dry brushing with a paint that is one or two shades lighter than the velvet. My other idea would be to try using a very fine gauge sandpaper to fray the fibers a bit?


    edit: spelling
  4. Stubbzilla

    Stubbzilla TFN Costumes Staff star 2 VIP

    Jan 30, 2001
    Leave the velvet item in the back seat of your car for a couple weeks, flipping as needed. :)
  5. SithKittie

    SithKittie Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 5, 2003
    I was thinking hang the velvet out in the sun - like on a clothesline, so long as its sunny out. though be careful, you might wreck the fabric and that would suck.

    FERDALUMP Jedi Youngling star 3

    May 12, 2002
    I am making a pint sized Drapery Dress from GWTW--I would like to simmulate sun fading (like the fabric was originally curtains that have hung in the window for years) Obviously, I don't have a lot of time to sun fade the fabric--2 weeks at the most. I also have several yards of the velvet and I can't really spread it out in my little car's backseat :)

    I guess I was hoping someone had some secret way of speeding up the sun fade process--but I don't want to ruin the velvet by trying weird techniques that aren't proven.

    Thanks for your help ya'll!
    Ferd :)
  7. across0the0stars

    across0the0stars Jedi Youngling star 2

    Jul 29, 2003
    what about special light bulbs made for growing plants? they're called grow lights i think..., but those might help ya =P
  8. darth_hair

    darth_hair Jedi Master star 5

    May 8, 2001
    i had to wash a sidewalk with a bandana once because thats all i had . it looked really used when i was done . sand paper sounds good but concrete is free and always needs cleaning .
  9. Sister_Sola

    Sister_Sola Manager Emeritus star 4 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 19, 2002
    Unlocked and bumping for recent query.
  10. Forcebewitya

    Forcebewitya Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jun 7, 2002
    I found while weathering my Tusken Raider mask the best thing to use to make something appear dirty is to go to an art store and buy a pack of artist's chalk. I got the colors brown black, tan, and reddish brown. Then I pounded them into powder, and smeared it with my fingers onto the fabric where I wanted to weather it. Basically I dirtied my hands and wiped em all over the fabric like I would to clean them. Also for making holes I simply used a scissors and cut where I wanted the hole to be and then used a wire brush to fray the edges. I got a great result I think and I am very proud of it. Hope that helps check my profile for a link to my picture page where you can see the mask if you'd like.


    DARTH_VAD Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jun 3, 2002
    Hello I bought red cotton fabric for a 16th cent. skirt however my bodice is more of a rust color. So I was wondering how could I weather the color of the shirt to look more like/closer to the rust bodice.

    Please help!
  12. Zelda_Skywalker

    Zelda_Skywalker Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 4, 2005
    one of my friends did this to one of his tuxedos to make himself he's rotted in a haunted mansion for a few years.

    he got his mum to run back and forth over it with the car(SUV's work best)
    scrape it on the side walk then throw it at the wall. nail it to a piece of wood, then rip it off.
    stomp on it....stomp it into the dirt...

    it all works.
  13. kay_dee

    kay_dee Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 15, 2002
    Hum, if you really need it to be a different color you might play with dipping it in dye. Maybe a weak solution of brown to dull the color and make it more rusty rather than red? I'd imagine just weathering it (fraying techniques discussed here) isn't what you are after. You can always make the color paler by washing repeatedly in hot water (as I did with a recent Luke vest) but that will just give you a lighter shade of red rather than a rust color.
  14. Maulested

    Maulested Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 10, 2005
    for velvet, try mixing water and bleach in a spray bottle and try spraying on the fabric for that sun bleached look. soft scrub cleanser also works really well for removing color. hot water washing works really well of distressing fabric. when i made my brother's bleach costume we had a great time cutting and then burning it with a long click style lighter. it looked really cool with the polyester material.

    i found a great article on creating a 'vintage' look on a new t-shirt in, of all places, men's helth magazine. it looked pretty easy (i mean, it is men't health ; ). i will find it and post it up.
  15. Sister_Sola

    Sister_Sola Manager Emeritus star 4 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 19, 2002
    This sounds pretty good - one thing though, does the chalk dust tend to shake or blow off a bit in regular wear? And you'd have to redo it if you washed the costume too, right?
  16. Sister_Sola

    Sister_Sola Manager Emeritus star 4 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 19, 2002
    Unlocked for recent query. :)

    DMZBADGER Jedi Youngling star 2

    May 31, 2002
    Thanks for moving my post here I am in more need of pictures of burnt and bomb blasted clothing. or web site addy's on how to
  18. Mieal_L_Deneb

    Mieal_L_Deneb Jedi Youngling

    Jun 30, 2007
    One thing I did for weathering that was more permanent and yet cheap: a dye bath using coffee. I heard that tea works too, but it gives you a different color. Coffee is good for a dusty dirt from Tatooine.


    DMZBADGER Jedi Youngling star 2

    May 31, 2002
    Was looking for more pics of actual blasted/bombed clothing.....i.e how do they rip or burn etc...

    DMZBADGER Jedi Youngling star 2

    May 31, 2002
    well here is my attempt at making a blasted burnt up Imperial Officer

    SUGARBANTJINN Jedi Padawan star 4

    Apr 12, 2007
    ...I'll have to remember that! this could be a very useful thread...[face_thinking]
  22. Anyara

    Anyara Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 14, 2006
    OK, I'm a Dark Ages re-enactor rather than a costumer, but soft kit tends to look 'lived in' quite quickly when subjected to the rigors of . . . well . . . being worn and abused a lot. Grass stains, mud smears, and general battered-ness can be acquired by rolling down several grassy slopes, particularly if there are thistles and/or twigs in amongst the grass.

    One of the things that makes fabric look very 'lived in' is sweat stains. The easiest way to get these is to do most of your ageing before you make the garment, then wear said garment. A lot. In a very warm place. Preferably somewhere dusty. Living in a Saxon longhall for three days with no shower facilities, no change of tunic or undertunic, and fighting all day in the hot sun is perfect.

    A light brush-over with vinegar and being left in the sun can age some leathers, but do be careful - leaving it too long before rinsing out the vinegar can cause the leather to start cracking.

    For adding a brownish tint to fabrics i.e. to counteract the optical brighteners found in a lot of washing powders, there are several methods I know of, but they'll only work on natural fibres. Tea and coffee have already been mentioned, but walnut hulls (the green stuff around the nut when it's just dropped off the tree), oak bark, and birch bark can all give brownish stains. Toss them in a pan of boiling water, simmer until it looks like strong tea, strain out the bits of organic matter, and pour into a bucket. Top up with warm water, add fabric, and stir from time to time. When the fabric looks manky, hang it somewhere to dry. Adding salt to the bucket of water can help some stains take to the fabric, depending on stain and fabric. Note that these stains will probably wash out pretty quickly, but they can also be re-applied easily.

    Wiping linens with lemon juice and leaving them out in the sun can bleach them a bit: the authentic medieval method of soaking it in stale urine and leaving it in the sun is just nasty.

    Hope some of this is useful!
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