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Save your money and make your own DIY distressed jeans. If you’re like most and love the trendy look of worn jeans but just can’t fathom spending more on a pair of ripped jeans than a brand new untouched pair, this is for you. Or, if you’re the type with a creative flair who always seeks to add your own unique style to your wardrobe, this article can help add to your repertoire of exclusive clothing.Whether you have a closet full of past years’ jeans that just don’t hit the mark anymore, or you are a thrift store connoisseur seeking to rejuvenate a secondhand treasure, you can learn to create the look just like jeans others pay top dollar for in the department store. All you need are a few handy tools and a free evening in front of your television.
What Is the Easiest Way to Distress Your Jeans?
Pick an Old Pair of Jeans
Having a pair of old jeans on hand can truly cut down on your workload, especially for the lighter, washed out styles. Forget about having to fade them, because chances are they’re already faded. Plus, some detailed work, like focusing on adding an aged look to hems and zipper areas, won’t be necessary with older denim, either. Selecting an old pair of washed out jeans can drastically reduce your time and energy investment, plus it’s a great way for a beginner to get started.
Choose the Best Fit
While your DIY distressed jeans project can use any pair of jeans, your best bet is to choose a style and fit that complements your body type. Skinny jeans provide a great fit for both men and women and are an easy choice for most. However, if you’re the type who enjoys the baggier look of boyfriend jeans, you may want to consider distressing a pair of those, as well.
Just know that you should try on the jeans first to make sure you like the fit before embarking on this project. Remember, the DIY distressed jeans look can only enhance a pair of jeans, but it doesn’t change the fit of an awkward pair.
Think Before You Distress
Don’t be too quick to get started. This is the type of project that, once you get started, there’s no turning back. Small things like cutting a hole in the knee that is too large can result in an amateurish, baggy-legged look. You also have to be careful if you choose to fade your jeans before distressing. Bleach can be a reward or a penalty for your new look. Be careful not to overdo it. We recommend you experiment before laying hands on your favorite pair of jeans.
What Materials Do You Need to Distress
Your Own Jeans?
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Now you should be ready to get started. Most of the materials you will need for your DIY distressed jeans project can be found in your kitchen cabinets or drawers. This is great because it’s another way you save by embarking on this project instead of rushing to the mall to hand over cash that could be better spent. With that out of the way, check out this list of necessary supplies:
- A pair of jeans
- Marking tool
- Razorblade or sharp edge
5 Simple Steps to DIY Distressed Jeans
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Let’s start by selecting a pair of jeans. You may not want to start with your favorite pair on your first go-round since you don’t have much practice yet. The first time is an experiment, but after that you should be prepared to transform any pair of your choice. Remember, selecting a light pair of jeans is also recommended for beginners because your ‘oopsies’ don’t show as easily.
The best way to start is by putting on your jeans. Wearing them makes it easier to locate the exact spot you want to distress instead of guessing and ending up with a hole that is higher or lower on the leg than desired.
Before you make any cuts, you want to take your sharpie and mark the knees or butt in the areas you plan to distress. You’ll simply make marks on the exact spot. If you prefer, chalk can be used instead of a sharpie; plus, it’s worth noting that chalk washes off easily. Be sure to draw your lines parallel and straight.
Now it’s time to take your jeans off. No, we’re not going to sandpaper or razor them while still wearing them. That wouldn’t be safe! So quickly remove your jeans and place them on a firm, flat surface. Slip a folded magazine inside your pants leg to prevent accidental cutting to the backside of your jeans.
You should also consider not using your dining room table unless you have something to place between the jeans and the tabletop. We recommend slipping an old magazine up your pant leg to prevent accidentally damaging your table or the jeans itself. Using your razor, cut along the lines you drew with your sharpie or chalk.
Next you will grab your sandpaper and firmly rub it between and around the area you have cut. You will notice the jean threads will begin coming apart and the texture of the material will become rough.
Grab your tweezers, because the next step will require a delicate touch. As you notice the threads coming apart on the frayed end, flip to the jeans to the inside and observe the blue and white criss-crossed threading. Using your tweezers, you will need to pluck the blue threads. It may seem tedious at first, but you will eventually begin to see the white threads revealed. This will create the notorious stringy white thread effect that distinguishes distressed jeans.
Remember to wash your new DIY distressed jeans before wearing them. Just toss them in the washer and dryer to allow any extra loose threads to fall out and for the style to set.
Tips to Enhance Your DIY Distressed Jeans
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For the overachievers, if you’re having fun with this process and just can’t stand the idea of stopping after only adding a few rips and holes to your jeans, don’t fret. There’s so much more you can do to enhance your DIY distressed jeans. Check out a few of the ideas you should consider for taking your jeans to the next level.
Fade Your Jeans
Any pair of jeans can achieve the faded look you see with most distressed jeans, and we’re going to show you how. It’s a simple process, and you probably have the supplies on hand to get it done as simple as 1-2-3. All you will need is a cup, paintbrush, bleach and water.
Simply create a 50-50 bleach to water solution that you’ll craftily paint directly onto the jeans in your desired area. We’d say the knees, back pockets and seams are good places to focus. Then you’ll let it sit overnight, toss them in the washing machine, and when they dry your results will be revealed.
Create Raw Edges
Anywhere you have a hem is an opportunity to create raw edges. Your new edges not only enhance the distressed look, but they can also add a cropped effect. Simply snip off the hem with tweezers and a pair of scissors and you can transform your DIY distressed jeans. The biggest issue you’ll encounter is trying to keep the edges from continuing to fray, which can be easily solved with Modge Podge fabric glue or iron on trim.
Fray the Pockets
For an added touch, you should consider fraying your pockets. This is an easy way to create an authentic distressed look. With a handy razor or disposable shaver, you can rub it back and forth along the pocket edges to create the illusion of worn fabric. This same technique can be used on the zipper, waistband or even the bottom of the pants legs.
No Sandpaper Method
Some distressed jean aficionados prefer to create their unique designs without the use of sandpaper. Although sandpaper provides a great worn out distressed look, there are other ways to achieve a similar result. In fact, some choose to use a cheese grater or pumice stone depending on what you have available in your home. Really, your best choice is the one that doesn’t cost you anything.