Denim jeans are versatile and classic. They go with simply everything and present a savvy choice for nearly any occasion. This summer, it’s all about the effortless cool of distressed denim. But, if finding the perfect fitting pair wasn’t hard enough on its own, finding one that’s also pre-distressed is an even tougher task and may burn a significant hole in your pocket. So, to keep your stress levels at bay and spare you yet another disappointing trip to the shops, we have assembled an easy ten-step guide on how to distress a pair of jeans on your own time.
This season’s go-to trend is not distinguished by one particular shape, but rather by the number of holes in your pants. Yes, you read that right. Trademarks of this ‘distressed’ look are an irregular, often faded colour and strategically placed slits across the front leg region and pockets. Thus, miming the used appearance worn denim typically develops over time. The first pair of distressed denim reportedly appeared in 1965 in a boutique in New York’s East Village. The trousers were washed to make the fabric look worn, then decorated and sold for a whopping US$200 (AU$250). And just like that, the ‘used’ look was born. While colour washes and shapes continue to vary each season, it’s safe to say that the popularity of this style never really seems to fade. So, if you’ve been struggling to find a perfect pair of your own, perhaps consider creating a unique version yourself.
Tools You Will Need
There are a few things you will need to distress a pair of jeans at home. Most of which you might already have in your household staple. The entire process requires the following items: a pair of old denim jeans, gardening gloves, a pen, a box cutter, a magazine or cardboard, scissors, a one-way razor and access to a washing machine and dryer. You should be able to purchase anything missing from your local chemist or DIY store.
How to Make Distressed Jeans
Feeling crafty yet? Well, you should, because if you’ve made it this far, you are now only ten steps away from a brand-new (old) pair of jeans. We hope you are as excited as we are. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of making something with your own hands, is there?
# Step 1
Search the widths of your clothing repertoire for a suitable pair of denim jeans. If this is your first time DIYing, perhaps don’t go straight for your favourite ones, but try yourself on a less loved pair. Should you have difficulties deciding which pair to sacrifice, you could also check any second-hand shop to purchase one.
# Step 2
Get your jeans on! No, literally. Put them on. Doing so will help you determine the areas you would like to distress. To maintain a somewhat natural look, you want to target spots that tend to wear out first over time. On denim jeans, this usually concerns the knees, thighs, seams and hems. Once you have decided where you want to place your cuts, you can use a pen to mark the area with a few lines.
# Step 3
Put a magazine or piece of cardboard inside the pant leg you are going to treat. This way, you’ll not only avoid accidentally cutting through both fabric layers, but you’ll also help maintain an even surface during the process.
# Step 4
Safety first! If you’re working with an individual blade, you should wear gloves to minimise any potential danger. Gardening gloves present a good option, as they are made from strong material.
# Step 5
Take your cutter and gently start slitting your jeans. Begin at the bottom line you have drawn earlier, all the way to the top line, leaving approximately half an inch in-between each slit. Now you can get creative. The slits can be as short and or long as you like, just make sure not to cut through a seam, as your pants may start unravelling.
# Step 6
Once you have created enough slits, it’s time to add some more detail. Use your blade to lightly scrape along the top of your front and back pockets. Be mindful not to cut all the way through the fabric. All you want to achieve is a ‘roughed up’ look.
# Step 7
To intensify this effect further, you can use a pair of scissors to trim parts of the top seams around the waistline, pockets and bottom hemline.
# Step 8
To add the finishing touch, use a one-way razor to shave bits of cotton off the edges and pockets around the waistline. Doing so will lighten the colour and gently distress the fabric in those spots. Be careful not to shave off too much in more delicate places, as the denim may tear away once you put it on.
# Step 9
Time to give them a good clean. To add a natural looking frizz to the edges of the areas you just prepped, put your jeans into the washing machine, followed by a session in the dryer. Repeat this process one more time and voila – your masterpiece is done!
# Step 10
Show off your jeans to your friends. This look is easily dressed up with a white shirt with a blazer, light coat or leather jacket. Alternatively, dress the look down with a t-shirt and a pair of white sneakers. Most importantly, make it entirely your own.
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