DIY: Get the Distressed Jeans Look in under 10 minutes
We love us a good DIY.
One of my favourite trends is the distressed-jean look. A few examples below from several top brands. These jeans will run you anywhere from $150 - $400 a pair.
I'm not against investing in jeans. If you wear them a lot, then your cost per wear is lower, and they last FOREVER if taken care of properly. Be sure to check where your jeans were made and from what to ensure you're paying for ethically-treated labour and good materials.
So I thought, being a self-professed JEANS ADDICT, why can't I just take an old pair of jeans and distress them myself?
I wrote about a certain pair of jeans when I launched the cost per wear calculator. The jeans I'm using are an old, original pair of seven jeans that I bought in 2003 (yes, I know) when I was bartending at a nightclub in a resort town. I have worn these jeans hundreds of times BUT they are also bootcut, and looking a little dated.
Tip: Choose a pair of jeans that fit but are your not your everyday favourite (in case your distressing goes awry!)
Tools I used:
Sharp pair of scissors
Sanding block and sandpaper
Hand-held cheese grater
Sharp paint scraper
Scrap piece of cardboard box
How to Distress an Old Pair of Jeans
Decide what type of 'look' you want - do you want a few natural looking holes? Or a totally shredded leg? I'll show you the 'natural' look in this DIY. To get the extreme shredding, just do this over and over again.
Make sure you have a clean, clear, pet and children-free area & be careful. The scissors need to be sharp & we don't want anyone losing a finger over distressed jeans!
Begin by marking the spot for your first cut. I chose the knee (jeans wear naturally there). Put your cardboard inside the leg, underneath where you will cut so the cuts don't go through the other side of the jeans. I made a few cuts horizontally across the knee (not too big).
Distress the pockets. This is another area that naturally wears. I'm using the block sander for this, as well, I used the sharp edge of the scissors to cut the pocket a bit. Make sure you put the cardboard under the pocket so you don't cut through the other side.
A third area that naturally wears is towards the top of the thigh on jeans. I chose to use a grater to get that lived in look. Yes, this is a cheese grater! Put the cardboard underneath (inside the jeans) and bend it, so that there is a hard area to grate against. Run the grater back and forth a few times. I added a small cut with the scissors as well.
The hemline typically also wears in jeans. As these jeans are older, I had a little wear but if you don't, use the scissors to cut horizontally along the hem, and the edge to fray it. You may also want to use the edge of the grater or sanding block for added effect.
Generally, the only place you want to distress (for a natural look) is the back pockets. No one wants a full-on hole in the butt of their jeans but a little distressing around the edges and on the pockets, gives a nice worn-in look. Use the same technique is on the hem around the edges of the top of the pocket. Then, put the cardboard in the pocket, and use the grater or the scissors to do some small cuts across the pocket. I went with a more subtle look.
The last step is to WASH the jeans. Put them in the washing machine, on the regular cycle (with or without detergent). I combined the jeans with a load of laundry I needed to do which is fine as well. After washing, put directly IN the DRYER. This will help finish the fraying. Once done, try them on. If you want more fraying, do it up, but best to start gradually, and add more (as if you add too much, you can't go back!)
Here's my new (old) pair of distressed jeans. The look is subtle.. I might shred a bit more along the knee & upper thigh but they look great. Love!
Have you ever DIY distressed your jeans? Did you try this at home?
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