How To Save Your Distressed Denim

Learn how to salvage your favorite denim with this fun tutorial! 

Something really sad happened this past summer. My favorite, favorite jeans took a turn for the worse.

Now, I’m all in favor of rips. I like my jeans torn and tattered; really, the more the better. I found my jeans — an amazing pair of gold stitch Levi’s — at a little vintage store in New Hope, PA and they’ve been my go-to’s ever since.


They’re perfectly worn in, the lightest of washes, and hang low on my hips. They’re it. They’re the one.

I tried to keep the washing to a minimum since each cycle would end in larger rips. Then, one day, it happened.


The left pocket was down for the count. Ripped all the way through. Butt totally visible.

I tried wearing bathing suit bottoms underneath, having a print show through in hopes of making the hole look ‘”cool.” But no. It was too far gone to look even a little bit okay.

Something had to be done. With warm weather (hopefully) right around the corner, I decided to patch up the hole and fix these babies for another season of wear. Here’s how I did it:


First up, gather your supplies. You’ll need:

A decorative piece of fabric






Try using a scrap piece of denim that’s a different wash from the jeans you’re fixing, or a patterned piece of fabric. I found this in one of our office drawers and knew it would be perfect for this project.


First, find the hole you’re fixing and eyeball how you want the finished patch job to look. I wanted some of the flower pattern to show, so I made sure that was positioned correctly. Once you decide, pin it in place to the denim.


Next, thread your needle.


Then start sewing! I used a whipstitch all the way around for a more hand-touched, patchy look. In and out is the flow. Click here for an easy whipstitch tutorial!


I really like how the red thread stands out against the light wash of the denim.


Continue stitching all the way around the edge until the patch is securely in place.


I turned my jeans inside out to cut away the excess fabric.


Get as close as you can to the stitch so you have minimal raw edge.


Turn right side out, give um a shake, and voila! Your distressed denim has now been saved.


Have fun!

Check out more DIY projects on the BLDG 25 Blog!

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7 years ago

I love this!!!! I’m totally needing my jeans to be a little more trashed now so I can make a pair


7 years ago

This looks so cool, if only my jeans would rip in places you can mend with this technique and not between my thighs!

7 years ago

Oh I love this idea!!! This is a great activity for old kids to do.

7 years ago

Great idea !

This could start a new trend.

Cynthia Deal
7 years ago

i totally did this for mine and for my husbands i usually used bandanas, thanks for the memories and
reminders to do i again!

7 years ago

Excellent post, you definitely have to check out Just Threadz, they make patches for distressed jeans! There peel and stick and don’t even look like patches.

6 years ago

Hello there gorgeous! Just wanted you to know this was featured right here ->

Mary Holmes
5 years ago

Thanks for the great tutorial. I thought machines are the only way to save my denim.