diy destroyed jeans

It’s been a while since I’ve done any sort of DIY project and I’ve been thinking of project ideas for a while.   I’ve doubted my ability to bleach or properly destroy a pair of blue denim, for fear of messing up the aesthetic and detailing that I paid for.   Then I remembered that I have two pairs of black denim: my designer pair and a cheap $25 pair from H&M.  That’s when I realized that I could manipulate and destroy my cheap black jeans because 1) there is no special wash or other detailing that I could risk ruining and 2) if I somehow totally failed at this project, the jeans were cheap enough to throw away (and cheap enough to replace and even try destroying again).

Here’s what I used:

– black jeans

– chalk

– fabric scissors

– tweezers

– sandpaper

Find out what you want.  I have some pairs of destroyed jeans saved in wish lists on various websites. so I used these as inspiration for how I wanted my denim to look.  Ultimately, I just wanted a slashed knee on both legs.  (Click on the images to shop!) 
Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 4.02.58 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-04 at 4.03.50 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-04 at 4.04.05 PM

Chalk it up.  I put on my jeans and roughly chalked where I wanted the slashed knees to be cut.  This was an important step for me because I have shorter legs (which is probably why I can never seem to find the perfect pair of destroyed jeans).  It’s also important to bend your knees in your jeans while deciding where to chalk your lines.  Remember that the holes you cut will get bigger over time and putting them directly on your kneecap will stretch your holes and rip the horizontal threads as you bend your knees.  So I placed my cut slightly above the joint in my knee.


Make your cut.  Next, I cut across the line with fabric scissors, making sure to not cut too wide (from side seam to side seam) because I didn’t want a big gaping flap.  I also cut off the hem of my jeans (and then some) because I wanted a worn look and knew these jeans were too long anyway.


Tweeze & pull.  I carefully pulled out the horizontal threads running across the width of each leg of my jeans to intensify the destroyed effect.  On one of my jeans legs, I happened to cut perfectly crossgrain and pulled out horizontal threads that were left intact.  If you don’t cut perfectly crossgrain, that’s ok too.  This is because the cut I made in the other leg of my jeans was slightly off and as I pulled my threads, they just pulled to each side of my jeans leg.  This resulted in a somewhat fringe effect on one of the knees.


Check your work.  Next, I put my jeans back on to check on my work and see if I liked the placement of the holes.  I didn’t really notice the holes because they weren’t long enough and they were too centered on my knee.  I knew I had to continue tweezing upwards so that the destroy would be more noticeable when I kept my legs straight.

Get comfortable.  I sat on my bed with my knees bent and continued to loosen and pull on the horizontal threads, growing the holes in my knees in an upward direction.  I also worked on loosening the threads on the newly cut hem of my jeans so that the newly destroyed ankles of my jeans would be more noticeable as well.  (Keep in mind that your work doesn’t have to be perfect, because destroying is the opposite of perfect.  Trim extra fringe or loosen some threads, but don’t overthink it.  Wearing and washing the jeans will continue to destroy them and intensify the effect)


Rough.  Next, I used extra coarse sandpaper to show wear and tear in areas of my jeans that would be more exposed to distressing.  I popped my hip and sanded at the most extreme point in my hip; I sanded the corners of my back pockets where my seat would be; sanded down most of my outside side seams; softened the waistband and distressed some belt loops; and sanded the bottoms of my jeans to soften them and further fray the new hem.


Done!  I am so happy with the end result.  I saved myself ~$200, have distressing and wear in areas that fit my body, and I always love to wear things that I created.


Maybe when the weather starts to warm up, I can totally destroy jeans and create sexy cutoffs…stay tuned.



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