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Try These Techniques For Distressing Denim

Here in NYC, we’re slowly beginning to daydream about the days where we don’t have to layer on three pairs of tights to leave the house, and while we specialize in expert denim repair, our readers know we love a stylish gaping hole in the knee of our jeans once in a while, too.

A Pair & A Spare recently ran a great post detailing some of their denim DIY distress experiments, using materials like sandpaper, tweezers, and a cheese grater. Check out the results, and try some of them for yourself: Techniques For Distressing Denim.

denim distressing techniques

Image by A Pair & A Spare.

—DT Staff

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Posted Mar 02 2015 in Denim DIY » Denim Therapy

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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