Distressed jeans are a classic wardrobe piece that don’t seem to ever go out of style. The frayed edges and artfully torn holes are a signature style everyone hunts for when looking for that perfect lived-in denim look.
Buying jeans that already have a deconstructed or distressed look can be expensive, though. If you’ve been wondering how to rip jeans, we’ve created a guide that will have you ripping your jeans like a pro in no time.
Ripping your own jeans is a great way to personalize your denim exactly how you want it, and it will probably save you some money as well. But to make your DIY distressed denim look authentic, you probably shouldn’t start hacking at your pants without some sort of plan.
Believe it or not, there is a technique to creating jeans that look genuinely broken in!
Don’t worry, though– cutting your own jeans is pretty simple, as long as you follow a few easy directions. Below is a guide to ripping your jeans in 7 painless steps.
7 Steps to Ripping Your Jeans
Step 1: Pick a pair of jean that fit well
You want to choose jeans that fit well, unless you’re going for a loose heavy rip look we find that skinnier jeans work best.
Ripped jeans are a great way to salvage already heavily worn jean, this also can make it easier to create a more nature rip in the jeans.
Step 2: Get your supplies
Even though ripping your own jeans doesn’t require any special equipment, there are still a few things you need to gather before you start, such as:
- A pair of jeans
- Sharp scissors or knife
- A pen or marker
- Sandpaper or nail file
Step 3: Mark where you want to cut your jeans
You’ll want to do is try on your jeans and use a marker or pen to mark where you want to cut them.
You can cut your jeans anywhere on your pant leg, but many people prefer to rip the knees of the jeans.
To do this, mark along the natural fold in the knees of your jeans. This will make your rips look more authentic. You can always cut other places as well for a distressed look, such as the thighs, hems, and pockets.
Step 4: Sand Down the Fabric
Next, grab some sandpaper (I’ve also used a nail file for this step when I didn’t have any sandpaper on hand). It’s not as efficient, but it did the trick.
Take your sandpaper or nail file and rub it around the area you marked on your pants. This will wear down the fabric and really give it a lived-in look.
Step 5: Cut Horizontal Slits
Here’s where the real work comes in. You’ll need a sharp pair of scissors or knife, preferably fabric or craft scissors.
Next, lay your jeans on a flat surface and cut horizontal slits where you marked your pants earlier.
You can make the rips as big or small as you’d like, but it’s best to start out small and cut more later if you need to.
Step 6: Pull threads around the cut
Once you’ve cut your pants to your desired look, use your fingers or a pair of tweezers to pull some threads around the rip you made.
Loosening the threads will give you a frayed and more authentic look.
Step 7: Sand Edges of Cut
Finally, use your piece of sandpaper to rough up the edges of your rips to make them look more natural.
You can even use sandpaper to wear down other parts of your jeans to give them a uniform distressed look.
BEGINNER TIP: Practice makes perfect.
Before you start cutting away at your denim, it might be best to choose some inexpensive jeans that you don’t mind chopping up, especially if you’ve never done it before. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel taking risks with other denim.
You can also wash your jeans with a little bit of bleach to give them an even more distressed look. This is an easy way to add character to your jeans, but it’s totally optional.
How to Rip Jeans (Video Tutorial)
Check out the following video for visual representation of ripping jeans (plus, a couple other fun methods).
And that’s how to rip jeans to give them that perfect distressed style! We hope this guide helped you create a pair of jeans that represent your personal taste. Once you get the basics down, feel free to experiment with rips, tears, distressing, and fraying!
Altering clothes at home is not only cheap, it’s also a great way to express your style, so head to your favorite thrift store (locally or online – ThredUp is one great place to find affordable jeans) and get ready to DIY!