3 Ways to Distress Your Denim

I am a total sucker for any type of distressed denim, it is a bad addiction. I once bought a pair of the most insanely holey jeans for my Halloween costume (Wayne Campbell of Wayne’s World naturally) and I not only still have them, I still occasionally still wear them. My favorite type of distressed denim is the kind that I do myself though! It gives me a lot of pride to see my hard work payoff! 
Here are the three different ways I chose to distress my denim!

Your denim (100% cotton is best)
An Exacto Knife
Fabric Scissors


These vintage Levi’s were a gift from my mother-in-law, she had them in High School! They are 100% cotton so they are perfect for distressing. 
First of all, these were a little short on me so I chose to unpick the hem then iron and sand it down.
Once you hem is unpicked, place a piece of cardboard in your shorts (so you don’t cut through the back!) and cut random slashes through the hem and side of the shorts under the pocket. Then roughly sand those patches down to get them properly distressed. The result should look very distressed and scraggly…but in a chic way! Please remember that this much distress looks best on 100% cotton denim, so stretch denim won’t yield the best results!
These DL1961 skinnies are perfect for a knee cutout since they have a little stretch to them and won’t create the best visual with just distress along, I think the missing knee adds something extra!

For the large square cut outs, I cut a slit in the center of where my knee hit and then cut a square chunk out from there.

Once your chunk is cut out, sand the edges down to make a more organic looking shape (and get some cool distress!). If you would like to add additional distress as I did, follow the distress short tutorial, and add some distress at the pocket. I also added a knee slash that I then sanded.


These Levi’s are the perfect relaxed fit jean but they were in need of some attitude. This pair of jeans has the most techniques used on it!
For added texture on your denim, turn your Exacto blade to the side and rub it back and forth on the area you would like to distress. Instead of cutting this will lightly shred off the top layers of the denim, leaving you with a stringier, whiter, distressed patch.
Using an Exacto knife, slash out the patch of denim you would like to remove for the knee. Then feel free to slash as many or as few sections of denim you would like to distress.

Using your tweezers is another way to get some cool texture, though bear in mind it is rather time consuming. Simply take your tweezers and pull out the individual blue threads (not the white ones). This will leave the white threads in tact and give you stringy open patches. It takes a bit, but it is a great end result!

What are your favorite trips to distressing denim at home?

5 thoughts on “3 Ways to Distress Your Denim

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