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How to Make Distressed Jeans

Source: Wikihow.com

Dying to get in on the distressed jean trend, but not willing to shell out major cash for ripped designer duds? Here's how to turn even the oldest, most unfashionable pair of jeans into bohemian-chic attire.




Place a block of wood (or some other solid surface that you don't mind possibly damaging) within the pant leg or denim region you want to distress.




Rub a steak knife or cheese grater vertically or horizontally against the area of denim that you would like to distress. Rub gently for mild distress; rub longer and more vigorously to create more visible distress (such as holes and tears).




Do not cut holes with scissors. This creates an unfrayed, and consequentially unstylishly bland hole.




Fray jeans by rubbing sandpaper around pockets, knees, hemlines, or any other area of denim that you would like to have a soft, worn appearance.




Dampen a sponge with bleach and rub it around the outer edges of holes for a faded look.




Tear off a back pocket.




Wash your jeans.




Wear your jeans.


Alternative Methods
  • Take the nail file and start filing away at one area. Some jean "lint" will come off, and it can get quite annoying. Peel it off the nail file as well as the jeans every couple of seconds. Keep filing until you get the desired size of hole. After a little bit, the white threads will appear. Once this happens, do not file the white threads. This will result in them ripping and then you are left with a complete hole and not a wear mark.
  • Another great way to make your jeans look distressed without completely ripping them to shreds is to use a cheese grater around areas that show the most wear and tear (knees, behind, around the pockets, etc). Do this with a light hand, or else you might go through the fabric.
  • Also think about different stains; paint, oil, and bleach work well. Don't go overboard on the stains. This is one area where less is more. Bleach should be neutralized with vinegar or it will continue to eat at the fabric.
  • Own and wear a regular pair of jeans for a couple years. You'll find that they become distressed naturally, and this way you can out-cool all the trendy kids because your jeans are authentic.
  • Afraid of ruining your jeans? You can buy jeans that already have small rips, and rub a knife or cheese grater around the edges of the rips until you're satisfied.
  • Use a dremel tool with a piece of sandpaper to distress seams and edges. Also, you can use sandpaper to get great looks too.
  • You can also buy them ready made if you have the money.


  • Work on a less visible area of your jeans (such as the bottom hem) until you get the hang of the process.
  • Work outside to minimize bleach odor and mess.
  • To make a very white bleach spot squeeze the sponge lightly over the area you want to bleach and let the bleach drip off the sponge.
  • If you don't have any old jeans to work with, you can find cheap pairs of brand name jeans at Goodwill for about $5.
  • You can splash paint or put cloth on them to make them look cooler.
  • Try to distress the jeans as you are wearing them, so the lines look more natural and aren't just three straight lines of white, but look more natural. Do NOT wear the jeans while using bleach, only sandpaper and the occasional cheese grater


  • Be careful with sharp objects.
  • Always wear gloves and other appropriate attire when working with bleach or other stains.
  • If you choose to work on the jeans while you are wearing them, go carefully so you don't cut yourself on the cheese grater or sand paper.
  • While it is effective to mix bleach and vinegar, be extremely careful because when bleach and vinegar is mixed, especially in quantity, it creates a toxic gas (chlorine gas)that could be deadly.

How to Bleach Your Jeans - How to Distress Your Jeans - How to Prevent Fading


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