DIY: Distressed Skinny Jeans

diy distressed jeans homepage

Want a simple diy project that will have you wanting to do a load of laundry this weekend? Today I’m showing you how you can give a pair of inexpensive skinny jeans that distressed look that often comes with a steep price tag!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pair of skinny jeans (mine were $20 at Zara, so I didn’t feel bad about experimenting with them!)
  • 1 pen or pencil (depending on the darkness of your jeans)
  • 1 box cutter or razor blade
  • 1 piece of cardboard

0_heres what you need

One thing I have learned…
Distressing 100% cotton jeans gives you a much more shreddy/stringy look (like this one by Free People). If you’re working with skinny jeans though, they likely have elastane or spandex for some stretch, so they distress differently – a little more “chewed” and hole-y looking (the ones I am using for today’s demo are 74% cotton, 24% polyamide, 2% elastane). Also, if you’re buying a brand new pair of jeans for this, be sure that you have enough room to fit in them after they shrink a bit in the dryer (necessary for the distressing process). Just a few tips/disclaimers before we take a razor blade to them!

Ok, now that you know all of that, let’s begin!

Step 1: Locate the Knee & Mark It

Find the knee of your jeans by folding the bottom hem up to the point.

1_step one - find the knee

Mark that crease with your pen/pencil so you know where you will want to begin your cuts.

2_step two - mark it and plan cuts

Step 2: Insert Cardboard

You’ll want to double up your cardboard and put it into the leg of your jeans to use as a backing when you begin making the cuts. The last thing you want to do is cut through both sides of your jeans!

3_step three - slip cardboard in the leg

Step 3: Begin Making Cuts

Press firmly and begin making your cuts. Space them out between 1/8″ and 1/4″. Giving a little variation mixes it up nicely and keeps it from looking too uniform.

4_press firmly and make cuts

This is the pattern I cut on the left leg. The right leg I kept more contained to the knee area. Distressed jeans are definitely one thing that you don’t want to be perfect and symmetrical.

5_close up of cuts

Step 4: Distress Other Accent Areas

Next I added a few little nicks to the coin pocket and pocket hemline. You can also add some distressing on the back pockets for that naturally worn look. Just be careful not to cut into the stitching.

6_distressing on pockets

Take a step back and inspect your masterpiece! It’s going to look dramatically different very soon…

7_jeans before washing

Step 5: Wash

You’ll want to throw them into the washer and dryer for one cycle (or two)… and you’re done! They should emerge a totally unique pair of distressed skinny jeans!

how to diy your own distressed skinny jeans diy distressed skinny jeans close up diy distressed skinny jeans close up sitting

Zara jeans (get an inexpensive pair to experiment on here or buy them ready to go here)
Asos sweater (similar here)
Zara ankle boots (here)

4 responses

  1. Pingback: Fringe Benefits « Catching Couture

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