DIY Alert: Here's How To Distress Your Own Pair Of Jeans

January 1, 2016 by Rachel Gulmi
shefinds | Style

I’m a huge sucker for distressed jeans. I don’t know what it is about them, but I just love it. Well, maybe it’s the fact they are already lived in, or look it, at least. Each pair of distressed jeans are unique and tell their own story. Of course you can buy a pair (or five) of distressed jeans but that isn’t as fun as making your own pair, right?! Distressing jeans isn’t that difficult to do by yourself. All it takes is a few tools and an old pair of jeans! Keep on reading to find out how to distress and fray your own jeans.

It’s worth noting before getting started that there is no wrong way to distress/fray your jeans. Each rip and tear is supposed to be natural and random. Just have fun with it!

Here are some things you’ll need:

Sandpaper or shaving razor


Exacto knife


Magazine or cardboard

Chalk or pen

Before getting started, try on your jeans to get a feel of where you want the distressed areas to fall. The most popular areas to distress are the back pockets, the knees, upper thighs and side seams. But again, it’s totally up to whatever you want!

Step One: You can either do this with or without your jeans on, but it’s time to mark ‘em up! If you want to know the exact location of where the rips will be, then mark them up while wearing them.

Use your pen or chalk to draw a horizontal line wherever you want the rips to appear.

Step Two: Lay your jeans flat on a table or floor then take your magazine/cardboard and put it in the leg of your jeans where you’re going to cut.

Step Three: Using the exacto knife, cut horizontally along the marked line, making sure to keep the magazine/cardboard underneath, so you don’t cut through the other side.

Step Four: Take your tweezer and start pulling out the fibers from the slit. This process takes time but it’s totally worth it!

Step Five: If you want lighter, distressed areas around the pockets, use the sandpaper or shaving razor to wear down the fabric. You can also use your scissors to cut holes along the upper back pockets.

Step Six: When you’re finally done distressing, throw them in the washing machine! While in the washer, all the magic happens.

The final result should be a pair of perfectly un-perfect distressed/frayed jeans! You can guarantee that no one else will have a pair like this and they will be extra cool because you made them yourself. These jeans will get better and even more distressed over time.

Be sure to watch our YouTube video on how to distress jeans!

Don’t miss 7 things you never knew about American Apparel and the millennial’s guide to laundry!


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