How to Create Distressed Jeans

Clothes styles do come and go, and one style that is currently “in” is distressed jeans. Purchasing new distressed jeans can be an unnecessary expense. If you don’t want to pay the high cost of manufactured distressed jeans, you can distress your own jeans. All you need are a few products and tools that you likely will have around the house.

Things you'll need:

  • Cheese grater
  • Sandpaper
  • Sponge
  • Bleach
  • Cutting board
  • Wood block

Tip 1 – Lay Your Jeans on a Flat Surface

Choose a surface to lay your jeans on that will allow you to work on the material without damaging a surface such as tabletop or counter top. A kitchen cutting board will work well.

Tip 2 – Use Wood Block

Use a block of wood or some other object that can be placed inside your jeans to protect other layers of your jeans from being damaged.

Tip 3 – Create a Worn Look

Choose the area of your jeans you'll want to distress. Generally, these are areas where the jeans would naturally receive more wear after being worn over time, such as knees, hemlines, pocket edges, etc.

Tip 4 – Use Stressing Tools

You can use several tools to distress jeans, including a cheese grater, razor blade, sand paper, or a serrated steak knife. A cheese grater works especially well. To use one of these tools, begin by rubbing it horizontally or vertically across the area of your jeans you wish to appear distressed. The degree of distress you want on your jeans will be determined by the degree you rub them with the distressing tool. More vigorous rubbing will produce more distressing.

Tip 5 – Be Patient

If you want a torn look on your jeans, it will take time to produce this look. Don't be in a hurry. Don't cut holes or try to create that torn look by cutting your jeans with scissors. Your final look, if you try to create it by cutting, rather than fraying, will be far different from the frayed look you're hoping for.

Tip 6 – Use Sandpaper for Fraying

Sandpaper works well for fraying jeans. Rub it around hemlines, pockets edges, or knees of your jeans. Remember, when fraying, be sure to place a board or other hard surface between layers of your denim. This will allow you to limit your distressed look to only the area you wish to have the worn look.

Tip 7 – Create that Faded Look

A wet sponge dampened with bleach will work well to create a faded look on your jeans. Rub the sponge into the areas where you desire fading such as over the kneecaps, hemline, etc. Be sure to wear protective gloves when doing this. And, remember to place a protective surface under the denim so you don’t fade more than you plan.

Tip 8 – Wash Your Jeans

After you have achieved the desire look for your jeans, wash them to remove any bleach you used in the distressing process. Bleach that is left in the denim for can weaken and deteriorate the fabric