Ways to Make Distressed Jeans

Introduction:When I was growing up, my mom would throw out our distressed jeans just when they got 'right' - all broken in, with holes in the knees, faded out, ragged cuffs. Little did I realize that I was wearing what would become designer jeans in oh, about 40 years or so.

All of the new designer jeans are distressed this year. But, even if you want to stay in fashion with skinny jeans, there's really no reason to buy a pair of designer jeans already distressed at upwards to $200 or so when you can very easily make your own distressed jeans. And, personally, I refuse to buy clothes with holes in them....

And, note: skinny jeans don't look great on everyone so, if you're not skinny, steer clear.

  • 01

    Distress Jeans By Fading Them

    Distressed jeans are never the dark blue color of new blue jeans so get going and start to fade spots of your jeans to lighten the color.

    If you want to lighten the entire jean, fill a washer with water and start off by adding just a bit of bleach - a capful is a good place to start. You can always lighten the color by adding more bleach but you can't darken it so be careful here. Grab a stick or a pole and swirl the jeans in the water for a few minutes. DO NOT swirl with your bare hands as bleach is caustic and will damage your skin.

    Leaving the water and bleach in the washer, remove your jeans and rinse well in the sink. Since wet blue jeans are darker than when they're dried, dry your jeans before deciding if you want to further lighten them. If you do, add just a bit more bleach to the washer and repeat the steps until you have the light color you prefer.

    Remember: bleaching clothes weakens the fibers so don't overdo it or you might have too much distress to those skinny jeans.

  • 02

    Add Light Spots on the Knees and Back Pockets

    Distressed jeans should have wear spots on the knees and back pockets. To create these lighter spots, grab a piece of rough sandpaper and sand lightly where you want the lightened fabric. Using a finer sandpaper will give you a more precise light spot.

    Sand the knees and the bottom of the back pockets. If you have thin legs, sand the front of the thigh and the back. Note: lighter areas draw the eye to these spots so, if your legs are not thin, do not distress the legs.

  • 03

    Add a Tear or Two to the Knee of Your Homemade Designer Jeans

    A scissors will give you a larger torn section on the knee so be careful about how much fabric you cut out. An exacto knife will give you a small slit which you can then fray by pulling out the individual fibers. No distressed jean is complete without a bit of fraying.

  • 04

    Further Fray the Bottom of Your Distressed Jean Pockets and Hem

    Using a razor blade or an exacto knife, add more fraying by working at the fibers just on the bottom of your lightened pockets. Same goes for the hems. Fray the area in the back where your heel is for an authentic distressed jean look.

  • 05

    Finish Up With Another Washing of Your Distressed Jeans

    After you've done the above steps and created your own designer jeans, wash your jeans with regular detergent and dry them well. Washing and drying will add the polishing touch to distressed jeans. When they're done, reevaluate if you want to add more distressed sections or if they're just right, put them on and wear them proudly.





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