So you’ve got a gorgeous new pair of cut-off shorts (or maybe you hacked them off yourself, or used our expert denim cut-off service) but they’re just not quite distressed enough for you? There are several easy ways you can make your brand new shorts look extremely well-worn, from physical abuse to bleach and beyond. Check out a few of our favorites below.
1. Sandpaper, scissors & razors. Tools like scissors, X-Acto knives, sandpaper, cheese graters, and other potentially abrasive objects are amazing tools for making your jeans look vintage. When using these items, be sure to slip a piece of cardboard or a protective layer inside the pocket and the actual jean, so you are only distressing one surface as a time.
Distress where it’s natural! You’ll see natural wear and tear in places like pocket tops, hems, and anywhere whiskers form (usually around the crotch and the top of the thigh). We recommend starting out by cutting some light slashes, and then sanding and tearing at the fibers surrounding the cut/hem/etc.
How far you go with this is entirely up to you.
2. Bleach & dye.
Another great way to achieve a vintage look is to include a few inconspicuous splatters of bleach, or use a desaturated dye in colors like peach, brown, or even pale yellow. You can check out our bleaching tutorial here. Fabric dye instructions range from product to product, but you’ll get better results if the fibers are 100% cotton.
3. Let the elements do the work.
This is probably one of our favorites. It takes time and patience, and also willingness to accept whatever random things may happen to your jeans. Tie them to your fire escape, pin them to your roof, hang them out your window, or find some other place where they can be stationary in the elements of nature. Running water, summer storms, intense wind, and even wild animals will all contribute to the worn in look of your denim.
+ Distress jeans that are 100% cotton sans-stretch fibers, or else you risk some major shape change after you’ve made your scissor holes & razor marks.
+ Get creative! Cut a slash in the thigh of your shorts and pull the pocket through, or cut out a design in the back pocket and reinforce with stitching. The possibilities are endless.
+ Safety first! Always use the proper precautions when using power tools, chemical dyes, etc. Read the warnings on all packages and wear goggles/gloves if necessary.
Let us know which ones you try at Denim Therapy’s facebook! And don’t forget, if you need help making your favorite jeans into perfect cut-offs, you can use our expert denim cut-off service.
—Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: denim cut off shorts, denim shorts, distressing denim with sandpaper, how to distress denim