How to Distress Jeans for a Natural Broken-In Look

by Samantha McClelland

How to Distress Jeans for a Natural Broken-In Look

We tend to fork over some serious cash for jeans that have holes in them. So why not reinvent those old jeans at the top of your donation pile? With a few distressing techniques, you’ll be able to give your denim that high-priced, perfectly distressed look. Here’s how.


How To Distress Denim


Whether it’s a new pair of jeans or a pair you have had forever, you can give any denim that broken-in look with a few easy techniques! Follow these four easy steps on how to distress jeans.


How To Distress Jeans Supplies


Gather your supplies:

  • Old pair of jeans
  • Chalk
  • Crafts knife
  • Steel wool or coarse sandpaper
  • Scissors


How To Distress Jeans Steps 1-2


1. Place your jeans on a flat surface. Use chalk to mark areas on the denim where you’ll distress the fabric. Mark vertical and horizontal shapes along the thigh, knee, and lower leg portions of the denim. If it’s easier to mark where the holes will go, try on your jeans and mark them with the chalk or use another pair of distressed denim to help judge where to make your placements.


2. Using a crafts knife or scissors, begin making small horizontal cuts in the denim in the areas marked with chalk. It might be necessary to place a piece of cardboard between the two layers of denim to keep from cutting through both layers. Continue making small cuts until you see the cross-stitching of white and blue threads start to unravel.


How To Distress Jeans Steps 3-4


3. Using a piece of sandpaper or steel wool, firmly rub the material against the marked denim in a back-and-forth motion. The vertical blue threads will begin to fall off the fabric leaving the white horizontal threads. Be careful not to cut the horizontal white string.


4. Using a pair of scissors, cut off any excess threads that have broken to clean up the distressed areas on the jeans. Repeat on multiple areas and pockets to create the effect you want.


Here’s a Pin-able version with the steps for this DIY distressed jeans project and a finished image. Have fun with it!


How To Distress Jeans Step-by-Step


For more DIY projects from Samantha, go to The Brunette One.