Isn’t it amazing that distressed or ripped jeans cost more to purchase in the
store or on online clothing sites than undamaged denim jeans? Why not pay
less for a great fitting pair of jeans, wear them as is a few times and then
distress or rip them yourself? The worry is always that things will go wrong
and the jeans will be wrecked. To be safe, lots of people buy pre-ripped or
distressed jeans from the clothing supplier. It never hurts to do a little DIY
on an older pair of jeans and see how it looks.
Purchasing Pre-Ripped Jeans
Local clothing stores and online clothing boutiques such as filly flair have
collections of distressed or pre-ripped jeans to purchase. These jeans are
distressed carefully so they won’t fall apart or show areas of the body we
want to be left covered. The prices can vary wildly depending on the
manufacturer or designer name they carry. The jeans come in different cuts
and fabric blends to fit different body types and sizes.
The success of any jean purchase depends on choosing the correct size and
cut. No matter how cool a pair of jeans look on the internet, if it does not fit
properly it will not look right on you. Another consideration is where you
plan on wearing jeans. Distressed jeans are less formal than jeans with a
fresh deep denim look. Then, it is important to consider what you will be
wearing jeans with.
Making Your Own Ripped Jeans
There are different tips for making your own ripped jeans that look just like
the purchased ones:
1. Choose the pair of jeans to distress carefully. A pair of jeans that are light
to medium weight. Slightly worn and already washed jeans may give better
results. Brand new dark dyed jeans might seem too freshly ripped and not
realistic for the ripped jeans look. Choose jeans with a slightly washed or
faded look. The most important thing about the jeans to be ripped is that
they must fit well and be comfortable.
2. Gather the materials together before starting the project. You will need a
pair of jeans, A surface to cut on that is OK to damage, a pencil or chalk,
ruler, scissors, or other cutting tools, and sandpaper, steel wool, or other
rough surfaces. You should have a small board to put inside the leg to
protect the backside from being cut.
3. Lay the jeans out flat on a solid surface and then use the chalk or the
pencil to mark the places to cut or rip. Use a ruler as a guide to mark the
finished length of the rip. Some good places to add rips are just above or
below the knees. Don’t rip too high up the leg or your underwear will show.
You can add small rips all the way down to the ankle of the jeans but make
sure to leave enough undamaged denim so the jeans keep their strength
and overall shape.
4. Now get ready to cut or rip the jean leg where you marked it. Spread the
jeans out with the board inside the leg. Sand the denim to distress it before
making the cut. This will make the material easier to cut and the rip look
more natural. Now use the scissors or other cutting tool to cut a small
section of about an inch. Now, use your hands to enlarge the rip a little
further. Ripping will tear the fibers for a more natural-looking hole. Pull
threads loose along the edges.
5. Decide how many more holes you want and place them in an attractive
pattern that does not weaken the pair of jeans so they are no longer
wearable. When all the rips are made go back over each one and pick out
blue threads to leave a pattern of the white remaining threads. You can also
distress the jean hem to make a frayed bottom edge.
Additional Distressing Options
Once the holes and rips are done, there are other distressing options you
can try. Bleach can be used to lighten areas on the jeans. Pockets can be
sanded and the top edge can be partially cut away and distressed with
sandpaper. Worn areas that are not ripped can be made by tweezing out a
patch of blue threads in a marked area to expose a circle or rectangle of
So what if your effort does not turn out well? You can cut the jeans off to be
cutoffs or jean shorts. Then, pull out strings on the new bottom edge for a
frayed edge. Some ideas just don’t work out well and you will need to bite
the bullet and throw the pants away and start over.
For this reason, it is always best to start with a pair of old jeans you already
own or purchase a practice pair at a thrift store. Just try on jeans until you
find one or more pairs that fit well and look good on you. Dark jeans can
have areas bleached before the distressing starts. New looking jeans can be
washed a couple of times before the work begins.
Look at websites featuring ripped jeans for sale and use those jeans as a
guide for your DIY project. Those photos give you an idea about how much
ripping is acceptable and wear the rips should be located. Try not to make
rips right over the knee where they will get too big as you bend your knee.
Remember, every time you wash or wear the ripped jeans, they will
deteriorate a little. The rips will get bigger and the distressed areas will get
Once you have perfected your technique on the thrift store jeans, you can
work on that new pair of jeans you want to distress. It is important to start
with smaller rips or holes than you want to end up with because they will get
bigger as you fray the edges and wear the jeans. A rule of thumb is to limit
your distressing to two holes, two shreds, and one scraped area per pair of
jeans. Too many rips and you end up with a pile of rags instead of a stylish
pair of distressed jeans.