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3 Ways To Distress Your Cut-Off Shorts This Summer

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.

distressed vintage denim shorts

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.

Overall tips:

+ 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

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Posted Jul 27 2012 in Ask the Denim Therapist » Denim Therapy

Denim Dose: News & Links

Welcome to your morning dose of denim news, links, sales, and everything else we couldn’t help but share. Check out what’s happening (and totally not happening) in the world of denim now. Got a tip you think we should include, a sale you want to share, or a style you just saw and can’t live without? Email us!


1. Azalea Boutique has an amazing DIY denim-distressing video for you to watch, and that’s not all. You can WIN the featured pair of jeans! ”Like” this video on Azalea Boutique’s Facebook Wall and ENTER TO WIN thefeatured pair of Naked & Famous Denim.”  *Winner announced 09/22/11

2. Dudes, check out this just-released pair of Edwin x Unionville x Sivletto Raw Denim jeans, reviewed over at Rawr denim.

3. Go behind the scenes with Bleulab reversible denim jeans in their latest lookbook shoot for spring 2012.

4. Eat Sleep Denim snapped three great, simple fall street style looks during NYFW. Check them out for some quick inspiration for this morning’s look!

5. Tokyo brands are already showing on the runway, including Factotum, a denim-centric sportswear brand that has created a “new age hippie” look.

—Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Sep 19 2011 in Denim News

How To Make Your Jeans More “Vintage” Looking

Looking for a few ways to add some character to your favorite pair of jeans? While some of us prefer them crisp and new, with a gradual wear process and a fray here’n'there, sometimes it feels good to pull on a pair of messed up denim jeans that are pure rock’n'roll, and look like they’ve been to hell and back on your backside. If that rings a bell, you’ll love these tips for distressing and vintage-ifying your own jeans, courtesy of Real Vintage Jeans.



Cut Them Up

If you are looking for the swiss cheese effect, then the best place to start is with razor or utility knife.  Both of these tools are sharp enough to cut, but they are also easy to control so you won’t accidentally go overboard.   The cutting process is simple enough, but you’ll need to fray the cuts so they look more authentic.  Do this by gently rubbing them with a coarse piece of sandpaper.  You can also use this strategy to create more natural looking holes without actually cutting the denim.


Wear Them Down

In order to achieve the natural aged look you’ll need to speed up time by using sandpaper or a cheese grater.  Start with the knees and work your way up to the thighs.  It is important to work on each leg a little bit at a time to avoid an unbalanced look.  Once you start seeing the white of the threads you should be gentle since unintended tears can occur.


Bleach Bomb

This is where most people ruin there hard work.  Unless you are looking for an acid washed effect then you have to be careful with how much bleach you use.  Always start conservative by adding just a capful to your wash after the water has filled up.  Each pair of jeans will react differently and you won’t know what to expect until after a couple of wash cycles.  If you want to spot treat them, apply a mild solution of bleach and water with a spray bottle before putting them in the machine.  Use the “mist spray” setting for an even application.


Fray the Edges

In order to get the most authentic look, you will have to work on fraying the edges of your jeans.  This includes the waistband, pocket area, and leg cuffs.  Once again sandpaper is your best friend.  Sometimes it is easier to attach a large piece of sandpaper to a board or wall and run these edges over the surface.  This lets you cover more ground in a shorter amount of time.


Add Some Mileage

While you can spend hours trying to vintage your jeans, one of the most effective things you can do is simply wear and wash them repeatedly.  Obviously you want them to look good before you take them out on the town, but there are plenty of opportunities to add some miles to them without making public appearances.  You can wear them while doing household chores, light construction, and even when you are walking the dog.  Just make sure you don’t do any activities like painting that may stain them forever.


Tips from Real Vintage Jeans.

—DT Staff

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Posted Sep 01 2011 in Denim Therapy » Denim Tips
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