Weathering clothing

Depending on the type of character you want to portray, your clothing might need to look old, dirty and worn. There are many different ways of weathering clothing, ranging from roughening it up, adding stains or burning it. 

Roughening up the fabric

If you want your garment to look worn and torn, there are several ways to do this.

You can use scissors to make a cut on the edge of the fabric and then pull on both sides of the cut to create a tear. You can also use a seam ripper to create tears and holes in the middle of the fabric, without needing to rip all the way from an edge. 

If you want the fabric to look slightly worn and rough, you can start by using sandpaper. The coarser the sandpaper, the bigger the effect. 

For a more intense roughening of the fabric, you can use a cheese grater or walnut grater. These types of graters are a lot more coarse than sandpaper, so they will give a more dramatic effect and can even pull small holes in the fabric.

A wire brush can also be used for this.

When using a grater or wire brush, do watch out for your fingers, as it’s quite easy to nick yourself with them.

You can also use fire to create burned edges or holes in your garment. This will only work with natural fibers though, as synthetic fibers melt and don’t burn. 

When burning clothing, always make sure you have a source of water nearby and be very careful with both yourself and your surroundings! Fire can spread very quickly, so you should be ready to put out the fire at a moment's notice. 

Staining the fabric

Fabric that is all roughened up and torn should also be dirty, otherwise it won’t look authentic.

On items with a light colour, you can make stains with very simple ingredients. Tea (Earl Grey, Lady Grey and English Blend work great) and coffee are perfect for different methods of staining. Coffee will generally stain a bit darker than tea. 

If you think your garment is too white or too bright, you can easily remedy this by shortly dyeing the garment in tea or coffee. If you have a bath tub, you can use that, but if you don’t a large, waterproof box will also suffice. 

Just fill your container of choice with warm water and add tea bags or coffee pads to it. You can also add some vinegar to it to set the colour better. 

The more tea or coffee you add, the darker it will stain. Also, the longer you leave the garment to soak, the darker it will stain. 

If you only want to create stains and not dye the full garment, you can pour the tea or coffee in a spray bottle and spray it on the garment in the spots where you want the stains to be. For more intense stains, you can also rub the tea bag or coffee pad over the fabric. This works best when the fabric is already a bit wet. 

For light stains, you can use bleach diluted with water. Again, just use a spray bottle to spritz the bleach solution on the fabric. Do keep an eye on the garment when bleaching it, as you need to rinse it with cold water to stop the chemical reaction of the bleach. 

It is also advised to wear a mask when working with bleach as the fumes can be dangerous to inhale. Not all fabric will bleach to the colour you might think it will, so it can be smart to test this on a less visible spot with just a drop of the diluted bleach.

For a truly authentic effect, you can drag your garment through your garden or street, which works especially well on a wet day. Some people even try the garment behind their car or bike for a run through their street.

 Of course you can also simply use paints to make stains in your garment. Either by dabbing the paint on with a cloth or sponge, with a brush or by splattering it on with a hard brush or toothbrush over which you scrape your finger. 

A lot of larpers and cosplayers use an airbrush to create different effects with paint for weathering.

If you want more temporary stains, you can actually use foods. Flour can be used for light stains. Spices like ground cinnamon, ground paprika and ground mustard are great for darker and orange/red-ish stains. If you apply these foods dry and don’t rub them in too much, you can just brush these off of a lot of fabrics. Any remaining residue can generally be washed out. 

You can click here for our clothing collection.