How to Distress Your Own Denim — The Easy Way!

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Ever owned a pair of high-waisted skinnies or a denim skirt that you knew would look so much better if they had a little distressed element to them? Well, I’m here to show you how.

Something denim (I’m using a skirt)
A pen
A knife (or scissors)
A cheese grater (or razor)
Oh, and a little music to set the mood while you work (this is optional, but highly recommended)


Step 1: Map Out Your Distressed Sections
First thing’s first: You’ve gotta come up with a plan! Using a pen, draw straight, horizontal lines that are about 1/4-inch apart. The world is your oyster here, so get creative and use your intuition to figure out where you want to create your distressed sections. A good rule of thumb is to distress areas that already get lots of wear (pockets, knees, etc.).


Step 2: Cut Along The Lines 
Grab a razor knife (or sharp scissors) and cut along the lines you just drew. Be sure to place a piece of cardboard or thick newspaper underneath to prevent cutting the other side of your denim.




Step 3: Remove Blue Thread With Tweezers
Now it’s time to really have some fun! Use your tweezers to gently tug at the edges of your cut sections. The goal is to remove the blue vertical threads from the white horizontal threads. Don’t fret — this is pretty easy. Just be gentle and keep tugging until there’s no more blue thread. You may want a trashcan nearby to toss all those little pieces.




Step 4: Distress Pocket Edges
To add even more authenticity to your distressed denim, use your knife and a light hand to scrape at the edges of your pockets. Use a grater or razor and drag it over the same section you just cut. Feel free to keep it subtle or really go at it for a more distressed look.




Step 5: Washing Machine Time
Once you’ve finished distressing your denim, throw that bad boy into the washer and dryer. This will soften those sharp, angular lines so they look natural and effortless. Finally, put your masterpiece on and revel in the glory of your own creativity!




About Wendy

Wendy Rose Gould is a latte-loving, vintage-collecting, cat-adoring beauty and fashion writer whose work has appeared both online and in print. While she grew up in urban Indiana surrounded by horse buggies and corn fields, she's since moved west to Phoenix (after a stint in South Korea) where cacti and haboobs reign supreme. Wendy believes a woman should never leave the house without enviable hair and a spritz of her staple perfume. And also mascara. Never leave the house without mascara.

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6 Responses to How to Distress Your Own Denim — The Easy Way!

  1. Dylan 08/28/2014 at 12:41 pm #

    Thank you!

  2. Serena 08/29/2014 at 1:13 am #


  3. Callie 08/29/2014 at 6:31 am #

    Love it!

  4. G.D. 09/03/2014 at 10:39 pm #

    A seam ripper, available at sewing and craft stores, is also helpful. Use it to pick apart fibers and pluck up threads.

    A hard pumice stone will also sub for a cheese grater.

  5. Marmee 09/05/2014 at 9:14 pm #

    Gonna grab a pair right now. Thanks.

  6. Mae 11/22/2014 at 11:20 pm #

    I’ve always wanted to know how to do this! Thank you!

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