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501xx STF - soak immediately or not?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Just picked up a pair of new 501 shrink-to-fits from the Levi's online store. Nothing fancy, just the basic stock 501s. I have nothing in principle against more expensive denim, in fact some day I'd like to have one pair of really rad jeans, but it's just not a fiscally sound decision for me right now.

I would like to break these in as nicely as possible as a pair of "project" jeans. I've never done this before. I tend to like my jeans fairly dark, but I also like them to show a bit of natural wear as they get beat up - I wear jeans pretty hard and although I don't skate any more (I'm an almost-35-year-old lawyer now), I still have kind of an aging punk/anti-fashion thing going in my casual wear, and I still pretty much wear one pair of jeans exclusively until they're just busted.

I'm not too worried about jean shrinkage one way or the other. I got 32x34, which is big on me in the waist and very long in the legs, but I can wear a belt to compensate for the waist being big, and I can cuff the legs. Or, if they shrink down an inch or two in the waist and a few inches in the legs, that's cool, too.

So, to best break these things in, should I immediately take a hot shower in them and let them dry onto my now-Smurfy-blue legs? Or should I wear them without washing them until the stench makes the Devil himself weep? I don't fetishize unwashed jeans, I'd just like these to fit well and look decent.

Thanks as always for your advice.
post #2 of 12
soak them first. You don't lose too much indigo with just a soak. Also it would fit way better and all the wear marks would not be in the wrong places once you do decide to wash them.
post #3 of 12
I'd say go ahead and rinse them to shrink them down to the correct size. Starting off one rinse won't ruin the prospect of breaking them in. After all, those Eternal 811s that everyone gets a hardon about started off as a one rinse jean IIRC
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by countchocula8
soak them first. You don't lose too much indigo with just a soak. Also it would fit way better and all the wear marks would not be in the wrong places once you do decide to wash them.


There are always different opinions on this subject, but I agree with whats said above, soak em first and you wont have to worry about having honey combs on the back of your thighs once you do wash them. Also looser jeans wont get as defined wear as a tighter pair, soaking will make them fit better, so better wear in the long run.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jetta
There are always different opinions on this subject, but I agree with whats said above, soak em first and you wont have to worry about having honey combs on the back of your thighs once you do wash them. Also looser jeans wont get as defined wear as a tighter pair, soaking will make them fit better, so better wear in the long run.

What do you mean by soaking? As in, leaving them in a tub full of water or actually washing them in a washing machine?
I just picked up a weird pair of rigid STF 527 from Goodwill, and the weird thing is that they're completely unbranded. No tags, no labels, nothing but the distinctive back-pocket stitching. I came here to post this exact thread, so pardon me if I'm a little thorough. I want to shrink them down immediately to wearable size (they're way, way too big right now, I couldn't leave the house in them) but still be able to break them in well afterward.
So far all I've heard is that I should dry them on hot to shrink them, then wear them for a while...
post #6 of 12
There are different opinions on how to shrink them: warm soak cold soak sit in the tub and submerge yourself while wearing the jeans washing machine etc... I bought a pair of STF's last year and I was afraid a warm soak would lose too much of the indigo so I only did a cold soak. I filled my bathtub with cold water and soaked the jeans for a few hours. I was paranoid so I made sure the jeans were laid out straight since I was worried about unwanted wrinkles. I now know that lying them flat is not necessary, and you can actually just soak them in a bucket. You can then hang them to dry or you can wear them to dry. If the jeans shrink to such a small size that you're afraid they won't fit, then it would be better to wear them while they're damp so you can get better stretching. As for your levi's 527... are they brand new and never touched water before? You can soak them if they're brand new, but if they've already been washed then it is kinda pointless to soak them since most of the shrinking have already taken place. Anyways, different people will tell you different thing. I don't know which is more valid, but I know that even with a cold soak, I was able to shrink mine down quite a bit. Since then, I've done another soak of my STF and I can tell you that there was no significant shrinkage since the first soak. I have not washed or 'dryer' dried them yet. Hope that helps.
post #7 of 12
The good count covered it well

I personaly do a "cold" soak (in FL cold water isnt really cold) in the tub with the jeans turned inside out. Then I put them in the washer (still inside out) for a spin cycle to get the extra water out before hanging dry. I usually put them on for a little bit when they are still damp to stretch them to me.

I wouldnt suggest using a washing machine for the soak, since it will aggitate the water and this will knock more indigo off, though it can be reduced by making sure they are inside out.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
OK, just turned them inside out and threw them in lukewarm water.

Three more quick questions:

1. I wore them yesterday on a bike and today walking around downtown in pretty hot weather. They got crinkled and sweat in a little bit, but not beat up real bad. I assume that this means I won't get honeycombs on my buttcheeks once they shrink up. Is this a correct assumption?

2. How long should I leave them in the tub?

3. Is it hard to scrub indigo off a white tub?
post #9 of 12
Good point on the inside out part... I did that but I forgot to mention it. To add: Once you finished shrinking them, don't be afraid to actually "wear" them. I had my STFs for about 6 months now and they hardly show any wear. My job doesn't allow jeans so I wore mine mainly when I'm at home or while running errands. For the longest time, I was babying them too much (even though they only cost about $25, they were my first dry jeans). I would try extra hard not to get them wet (washing my hands, washing dishes, cooking...) and as a result, they showed no wear at all. At around the 5-month mark, I was getting anxious about how they would look so I did another soak. To my surprise, they look practically new except for the slight wear near the crotch due to friction. So to re-itterate what others have said on this board, don't baby your jeans. This will detract from their overall fade and character. Just do what you would normally do (i.e. don't cortort your body while washing your hands to prevent stray droplets from touching your jeans ) Well, the STFs served their experimental purpose I guess. I'm now in the process of breaking in a pair of APC NS, hopefully with better results. edit: answers to above questions. 1) it should be fine. I doubt that one day will do any real damage to them. 2) I left mine in for about 1hr. I think some even left their jeans in overnight. My stupid tub was not good at keeping the water in so I had to add more water every 15 minutes... I got tired and said screw it after the third time. 3) My tub was old so I did not take notice of this aspect. If it's any consolation, there is no indigo stain in my tub now. If you're worried then you can just soak your jeans in a bucket... just make sure everything is submerged (air bubbles have a habbit of getting trapped under the jeans so some part will be above water).
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by countchocula8
There are different opinions on how to shrink them:
As for your levi's 527... are they brand new and never touched water before? You can soak them if they're brand new, but if they've already been washed then it is kinda pointless to soak them since most of the shrinking have already taken place.

Anyways, different people will tell you different thing. I don't know which is more valid, but I know that even with a cold soak, I was able to shrink mine down quite a bit. Since then, I've done another soak of my STF and I can tell you that there was no significant shrinkage since the first soak. I have not washed or 'dryer' dried them yet. Hope that helps.

Thanks for the advice! I will definitely try a cold soak and if that doesn't work enough, a hot dryer. As for the 527s, I don't know for sure because they are completely unbranded. Aside from the backpocket stitching, there is nothing on them to indicate what they are, but between a few clues and previous experience with Levis rigid denim, I think I have it pegged. They may still be the wrong size for me, but if they aren't, there was another pair there so I can keep experimenting. It's only a $5 experiment anyway, so I'm not worried.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks, all. I'll probably take a nap for a while, then take the jeans out of the tub and down to the coin laundry to tumble dry, no heat, long enough to get out some of the excess water.
post #12 of 12
So I soaked and dried the 527s, with mediocre results. I soaked them in cold water for about an hour, but my tub leaked a lot so I had to keep refilling it. I think the constant draining and refilling agitated the jeans more than I wanted and I ended up losing more indigo than I'd hoped. Also, after a dry they didn't shrink quite as much as I'd hoped. I'm going to wear them for a few days then toss them in the dryer again to see if they shrink any more.
I'll post pictures when I get more camera batteries. In the mean time, I'm going to head to goodwill and pick up the other pair they had there (same size, same un-branded, same everything), so does anyone have any suggestions on what I could do to reduce indigo loss and increase shrinkage?
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