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Video: How To Distress Your Denim

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When it comes to denim, nothing beats that perfectly broken in, rugged and ripped pair of jeans that look like they’ve been lived in. But sometimes it’s hard to get them just right – especially if you’re trying to do it yourself. I know I’ve ruined a couple of pairs of jeans trying to cut holes in them that don’t look fake. We asked our senior designer for washed wovens (which includes denim) to show us how to get that perfectly distressed look!


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Other related posts: DIY: Update Your CutoffsDIY Studded Shorts

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Kelsey -May 2, 2012, 10:25AM

I never understood why anyone would want to do this to their jeans..

Christina -May 2, 2012, 5:20PM

Great DIY! I’ve always wanted to try this but didn’t know the best approach. All I need is a cheap pair of jeans to practice on. :)


Ashley -May 2, 2012, 7:17PM

thank you for this tutorial! this is so much easier than how i’ve done it before

Maggie Rose -May 2, 2012, 10:36PM

I destroy my denim and make jeans into shorts all of the time. However, I have found that using a blade like that creates a look that is to precise and “intentional.” My tip:- cut off the pant leg at the VERY bottom, right against the seam, and use a fork!! Pull the strings away from the jean. It creates an INCREDIBLE frayed look that is fast and requires no washer!

Maggie Rose

Hannah -May 3, 2012, 2:37PM

Love the distressed denim look, although I am still loathe to take a razor to my jeans…I’ll practice with an old pair! How do you do the hair of the gorgeous model in the picture? I think my hair is of a similar texture so I’d be keen to see a tutorial on how to get the defined but natural looking waves.

Ashley li -May 3, 2012, 10:52PM

perfectly broken in,This style I very like it! And dressing them up with a sexy top and heels for a night out! pls tell me how to get it.I want to have it!

Stacy -May 9, 2012, 8:23PM

Love it? How would you distress High waisted Jean shorts I cut from pants?

Stacy -May 9, 2012, 8:24PM

I meant Love it!!!!

diyearte by L & S -May 14, 2012, 7:10PM

we love it!!

DIY and more:

Amanda -August 1, 2012, 9:48PM

I love this vest so much!

Autumn -September 9, 2012, 7:42PM

Love this; thank you!
Would it work on jeans that have stretch?….like, 73% cotton, 25%polyester & 2% spandex?
I have some skinnies that need some destruction!

Alexandra J. -October 24, 2012, 7:32PM

I just started finished ripping them and cutting everything… cant wait til i toss them in the washer!!!!!!

Lyss -November 16, 2012, 8:39PM

@autumn totally, i’ve already done it

Bailey -January 8, 2013, 2:01PM

After you have worn these several times and want to wash them, will they fray more each time you wash? I want to be able to wash them, but not have them be completely destroyed more and more!

Ron H -March 14, 2013, 5:21AM

Bailey– In my experience, it will fray a little each washing depending on additional wear that occurs between washings that may add more damage. But it shouldn’t be much, especially if you wash them on a gentle cycle, and only run them through the dryer for perhaps 10 minutes at most until they’re damp dry, and then hang them to dry the rest of the way. (I throw mine over a shower rod or across the top of an open sliding shower door in the spare bathroom to dry.) The heat from the dryer is where the real damage gets done–heat weakens the thread structure and makes it susceptible to break and tear much more easily. My jeans last much longer and don’t shrink since I started hang-drying them.

Nichole -March 27, 2013, 11:28PM

Love this – can’t wait to do it to my boyfriend jeans this weekend.

Any idea what the song is playing at the end?

meg -July 31, 2013, 9:10AM

Mine usually does it the natural way. ;)

Knitascarf -August 5, 2013, 10:34AM

I love the distressed look and always wondered how to do it so thanks.

Alexandra J. -August 26, 2013, 8:25PM

I tried doing this, and it honestly didn’t come out very well… I thought it would work, but was very disappointed. Oh well!

fasion of the year -August 30, 2013, 3:34AM

distressing the jeans is the new way of fasion now a days so try it because its makes the jeans look different

someone -September 7, 2013, 7:51PM

…I have destroyed sooo many jeans,but i have a pair,that barely fit,and I am gonna give them to the thrift store,or salvation army soon,so ID mind destroying them. gonna try it!! will post results after!!

Sofia -September 11, 2013, 12:42PM

The video is not working :(

maddi -October 2, 2013, 10:37AM

Can I ask what jeans you are wearing in the first photo? The denim is gorgeous!

Emma -October 8, 2013, 3:19PM

This video was very helpful! However, the videography made it very difficult to watch – it kept going in an out of focus which was really distracting :(

dafne -October 9, 2013, 6:17PM

I have a pair of very long jeans and I am planning to destroy them as you showed in the video, but I need advice here: Can I trim the length just with a scissors and not sew them? or should I take them to the tailor to fix the hem first before destroy them?

bonsaikitten04 -January 2, 2014, 10:24AM

Its depends on you,if you want to look funky then cut, you have found that using a blade like that creates a look that is to precise and “intentional.Cut off the pant leg at the VERY bottom,
For more information visit:

andrea -February 3, 2014, 5:07PM

Can you still cut jeans with a slight stretch to them???

Nadia -March 24, 2014, 7:03AM

WOW!…that’s amazing!…can I send you my denim pants from Italy and you destroyed it for me???:-))). ;-)))

Megan of Truth Be Told -April 8, 2014, 4:51PM

Love this DIY! I added this to my list of ways to save with the clothes you already own! Check out my post here with other ideas on how to get creative and extend the life of your wardrobe >>

Megan of Truth Be Told

Angelique -July 16, 2014, 1:42PM

Can you distress 98% cotton jeans with 2% spandex or will they not turn out this way?

Marilyn -July 28, 2014, 4:07PM

This is a GREAT video-Thanks! I have seen other ways to do it but this is by far the easiest & the way I want my jeans to look. Love the sand paper look-Thanks a Mil

debra -August 1, 2014, 8:00PM

To answer Angelique – i just distressed some jeans that were 99% cotton, 1% spandex and they came out just like this. I bet yours will too!

Jovel Roystan -August 7, 2014, 11:00PM

This is a great tutorial, Julia! I can’t wait to have a DIY day and put your advice to work! Thanks.

Carlos Garate -October 21, 2014, 4:07PM

Hola Abby,

hope you remember me from Global Jeans in Acapulco, looks like you are doing great, it was nice to see you.

Great job with that destroy jean!!!

Carlos Garate

jenna -December 11, 2014, 3:49PM

nice video
please never wear such noisy jewelry again

Makayla Brown -March 17, 2015, 10:12AM

I didnt have tweezers so i just used a nail clipper and it worked

had -January 30, 2016, 3:28AM

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Sexy Dress -February 20, 2016, 10:35AM

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dana -February 29, 2016, 1:22AM

would love someone to show how to do this on stretch jeans–that have polyester or spandex in them. When I try to distress them, the little cross pieces that are left are stretchy and the blue color of the jean, not white. so, if someone has done this please tell me how to do this!

continue -March 13, 2016, 5:54AM

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Tom Schmit -March 15, 2016, 3:44PM

Very nice video. Simple, to the point, and easy to fallow instruction, A job well done thank you

Jade G. -June 23, 2016, 4:02PM

This is how I became a distress master lol jk. I found this DIY Distress kit on Amazon
And then went soul searching and collaborated ideas I’ve seen in quite a few blogs and this particular thread had some nifty ideas.hmmmm.. anyhoo gave it a shot, and it came out quite nice, looks organic! Shorts, shirts, jeans, I’m staying with the season, I even tried on some faux jean leggings (handle with more care)

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