$650 for a pair of jeans? Here’s your next DIY jean project for under $80


1976 Alfa Romeo and DIY jeans tutorial

Jeans that look this good need a 1976 Alfa Romeo as a backdrop.

A pair of basic blue jeans just doesn’t cut it for me. I adore jeans, but after viewing many designers’ creative iterations over the past year, I began to crave a pair that was outside the realm of safe and safer. Over the years, we’ve seen distressed jeans with so many rips, tears and dangling threads, they resemble fifth generation hand-me-downs. But how many rips, tears, holes and worn spots can a pair have before they look ridiculous and unwearable?

As much as I love blue jeans, it is very difficult to find a comfortable pair for the wheelchair disabled. The best pair is one which is composed of at least 5% spandex, without a button-fly, has a medium to high rise (please, no plumber crack), and a thinner weave of cotton to slip on easier. When I find a pair to my liking, I usually purchase multiples.

I recently ran across some images of jeans that push the boundaries of your typical generic design. According to WGSN Insider, 2017 is the “Year of Bizarre Jeans.” These jeans certainly push boundaries, but they aren’t conducive for someone who wants to sit comfortably and fashionably in a wheelchair. I became obsessed in finding a comfy pair of jeans that isn’t ‘run of the mill.’


Marques Almeida lace trousers and

Y Project garter strap jeans and Marques Almeida lace trousers.

Then I came across this pair of Loewe (pronounced Lou-Eh-Vay) gold dipped jeans on Moda Operandi for $650. Crave-worthy, indeed and I HAD to have them, but, wait… $650 for jeans? I couldn’t justify the price tag since I was due for a shopping spree at Henri Bendel’s in a few weeks. But then serendipity struck in the form of an email from my fashion-obsessed bestie, Jamie Kreitman. She, too, saw the same pair of jeans and considered them a LUST-have. I immediately messaged back stating “I am soooo in love. But $650? No way, no how. How can I go further without these? I can’t justify this cost. What to do?”

Uh, DUH…it dawned on me that I was commiserating with a DIY maven, who is always willing to collaborate on a new fashion project. Just as I predicted, Jamie happily agreed to assist me in creating our next fashion DIY project, a pair of Loewe jeans for under $80.

Loewe gold dipped jeans on Moda Operandi

Loewe gold dipped jeans

Here’s a quick video run-through of the process.

diy gold dipped jeans project.

I had not taken out my jean urban turban in a long time, so what better time to wear one than in the midst of a DIY jeans post?

Here’s how we did it:

I purchased a pair of stretchy 314 Levi’s jeans with tummy-slimming front panel for only $50. These jeans are perfect for someone with limited mobility. They have enough stretch, great fabric weight and a midrise waistline.  Make sure to buy a pair longer than what you typically wear. My normal length is usually 30”, so I purchased 32”. You want to be able to cuff them at least 3 inches.

  • To prep for DIY painting, wash jeans in cold water and line dry.
  • If necessary, iron bottom of jeans legs if they’re too wrinkled. You want a smooth surface
  • Try jeans on and turn up bottom creating a cuff . Determine the height of your cuff. Put a safety pin where the cuff turned up edge meets the jeans. Then determine the height of the gold dipped section. Place safety pin at top of planned section as well.
  • Uncuff your jeans and lay jeans flat. Using a ruler, measure from bottom edge of jeans to first safety pin. Using yellow tailor chalk (or another light color), draw line horizontally across leg from side to side. Continue this horizontal chalk line on the back side of the jean leg. Draw another horizontal line where top safety pin is placed for top of planned gold paint section. Continue to back side of leg, too.

measure jeans for DIY project

  • I measured 5 inches above the bottom chalk line to create the gold paint area. You may determine a different measurement depending on your desired proportions. Measure one leg against the other making sure the lines match up.
  • Place Painter’s Tape along the chalked lines. I placed double strips of tape to ensure a clean paint line.
Taping down the DIY jeans project.

Place your tailor’s tape below the chalk mark on the lower taped portion. Place tape above the chalk mark on the upper portion of the second tape.

  • Before taking the plunge, I suggest testing some leftover denim scraps with Painter’s Tape and doing a test run.

I practiced dabbing the paint with a pouncer on a strip of old jeans.

  • Use Lumiere Metallic Acrylic Paint in “Bright Gold” with Tulip brand Pouncers. Dip the pouncer into paint which we prepped by pouring onto a paper plate and start gently dabbing on top of the first tape line. Don’t press too hard so that paint doesn’t bleed under the tape line. Just dab across a straight row. Then do two more rows. Next, pull the paint dabs in a vertical stroke, so you achieve a smooth finish. You don’t want to leave the dabbed marks, or else it will create too much of a coarse texture. Continue doing this until you reach the second piece of tape. Do this quickly and wait to dry. In the meantime, repeat the painting on the second leg. Wait for both fronts of legs to dry (around ½ hour) and apply a second coat. You may apply a third coat if you desire after the ½ hour dry time. When both legs are dry, flip the pair over and repeat the same process on the other side. Hang jeans on skirt hanger and allow both sides to dry overnight.
  • When dry, remove Painter’s Tape and iron the gold painted portion. This sets the paint for washability. Do read the directions printed on the paint jar. Hint: when I ironed I used a light cotton cloth on top of the jeans to protect the iron from paint residue. To finish: spray both sides of the gold with Krylon UV-Resistant Clear Acrylic Coating. Make sure you do this outdoors since the spray is very strong and toxic. Trust me, you don’t want to kill off too many brain cells.
  • Hang the jeans on a hanger in your bathroom to completely dry and for the spray odor to dissipate.

After it dries, lift off the tape to reveal a clean edge.

CONGRATULATIONS! You now have a great fashionable pair of jeans for a fraction of the cost.

This is the perfect DIY project for people who are unwilling to dedicate an entire day to complete. It doesn’t require a lot of focus, so you could have friends over to sip wine, blast music and have something to bring back home to be worn the next day.

1976 alfa romeo and wheelchair blogger


Gold dipped jeans DIY

This is Jamie’s version using a pair of darker OLD NAVY.

This project got my DIY juices flowing, so now I am eyeing my next jean project.

How about recreating these Zara painted jeans? Or these $1150 handpainted jeans by Gucci? I think I will take it further by finding inspiration from a vintage textile print from the 50s that no one will be able to replicate. Go on. Get to DIYing.

Zara and Gucci hand painted jeans

A pair of painted jeans by ZARA and GUCCI.

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  1. Great work! I love how you don’t just give up, and instead go out and create one for yourself.

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