How to Make Your Own Pair of Distressed Jeans

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How to Make Your Own Pair of Distressed Jeans

March 22, 2016 - 10:44

Ripped, distressed jeans and shorts are very popular, but it is expensive to buy distressed denim at the store. Let us show you how to do it yourself for way less cash!

How to Distress Denim

Distressed jeans, especially denim ripped at the knees, are super popular right now. I love the look of them, but it can be pricey to buy a good pair of ripped jeans at the mall. I figured, why not just do it myself for way less money. I purchased a pair of really nice J Crew boyfriend jeans at Goodwill for only $3.99! They were in mint condition and appeared to be virtually brand new. However they were very preppy, and I wanted to add a little edge to them by distressing them. I made sure to select a pair that were pretty firm without a lot of stretch. Stretchy jeans are a little harder to distress. After about an hour of work, I was able to turn them into a really cool pair of distressed jeans!

The first step was to gather several supplies that I already had laying around the house including the following:

An exacto knife

A shaving razor


Tailor's chalk

I wanted my jeans to be distressed at the knees, so I put on the jeans and marked the top of my knees with the tailors chalk's. In my experience, the jeans turn out better when you start your first cut towards the top of your knees and work your way down. Then I removed the jeans and laid them out flat on the floor. I found the line I marked with the chalk and then I pinched it pulling up the front of the jean. I made the initial cut there using the exacto knife cutting a horizontal hole. Make sure when you make your hole to not make any accidental tears in the back of the jeans. Also make sure to not cut too large of a hole keeping in mind that with natural wear and tear the hole will expand over time. Be conservative to start, because you can always make the hole bigger. Then I tried the jeans on again to see where I wanted to continue to cut. I marked those spots with the tailor's chalk, and then removed them and continued to make cuts with the exacto knife. When you make your cuts try to keep them about an inch apart.

Once you have your cuts you want to start to expose the horizontal white threads in the denim. That is where the tweezers come in handy. When you look closely at the ripped denim you will see there are blue threads that run through the denim vertically. You want to use the tweezers to gently pull out those blue threads while leaving the white threads in tact. The first couple blue threads may be a bit difficult or tedious to pull out, but once you get out the first few the rest will come out quickly and easily. After you are done pulling the blue threads you are pretty much done. I used the shaving razor at the top of the pockets to soften them up and give them a little bit of an aged feel, but this step is completely optional. After you are done distressing, go ahead and throw your jeans in the wash. They will look even better once they are washed!

That is really all there is to it. Distressed jeans are super easy to make and look great without spending a lot of money. Given that I already had the supplies, the only cost I incurred was the $3.99 for the thrifted pair of jeans. What a steal!