If you love the look of torn, faded designer jeans, why not learn how to distress jeans at home and turn one of your old pairs into a chic fashion statement? Unlike faded jeans, which you can simply bleach in your washing machine, distressed jeans require a special, hand-made bleaching process, as well as a custom cutting and fraying method. Though it sounds complicated, anyone can learn how to distress jeans at home and enjoy doing it too. Because when you distress jeans you can choose exactly how and where to fade your jeans, and where to cut them and how much. Basically, distressing your jeans turns you into a fashion designer. So let your creative side loose and learn how to distress jeans following these steps.
Here’s What You’ll Need to Distress Jeans
– Protective rubber gloves and mask
– 1 quart of bleach
– 2 buckets
– Large sponge
– Large trash bags
– Rags for cleanup
– 40-grit sandpaper
– Sharp-tipped scissors
– Access to a clothes washer (preferred)
– Fabric softener (optional)
Follow These Steps to Distress Jeans
Step #1. Set Up Your Bleaching Station
Choose a table on which you distress your jeans using bleach. Make sure that you are near an open window and cover the table and the floor around the table edges to prevent staining from the bleach. If you want to distress jeans without distressing what you’re wearing at the time, put on an apron you don’t mind staining.
Step #2. Prepare the Jeans
Lay the jeans you want to distress flat on the protected work table. Stuff the legs and jeans front with large trash can bags to insulate the front from the back. If you don’t mind distressing your jeans the exact same way on both sides, you don’t have to insulate the center, but it is recommended for that expensive designer distressed jeans look.
Step #3. Prepare the Bleaching Solution
Fill a quarter of the bucket with warm water and pour the quart of bleach in. Mix the solution well with a stick (such as a paint stirring stick you can get at Home Depot). Simultaneously, fill the second bucket 3/4 full of warm water and have it ready at your side for when you finish distressing the jeans.
Step #4. Distress Your Jeans
Put on the protective rubber gloves and dip the sponge in the bleach solution. Wipe the jeans with the sponge working in straight lines from below the crotch down to the ankles. It’s up to you have much bleaching you want to do. Re-dip the sponge to distress your jeans more. But remember that bleach works quickly and will continue to work even after you stop applying it to the fabric. It’s best to distress one side, then flip the jeans over and distress the back, focusing on the buttocks and back of the knees only. Then flip to the front again and see if you wish to distress the jeans more. When you’re happy with the distressed look, put the jeans in the clean water bucket right away, to stop the bleaching effect as soon as possible.
Step #5. Wash the Distressed Jeans Thoroughly
It’s best to wash the bleach out of the distressed jeans in a clothes washer on the regular cycle, using warm water. Add fabric softener to help remove the scent of bleach. If you have to wash the distressed jeans by hand, fill a bathtub or a large bucket with warm water and detergent and stir the distressed jeans around to mimic the agitating cycle of the washer. Be sure to change the water at least two times to get all the bleach out of the distressed jeans.
Step #6. Distress Jeans with Fraying
Dry the faded jeans in a clothes dryer or in the sun then lay them on a work table again for the next stage in how to distress jeans. Now you’ll want to give your distressed jeans the frayed look of having been worn for years. Using sandpaper scrape away at the jeans fabric around the pockets, waist and anywhere else you would like to see signs of fraying. The thigh is a sexy spot often frayed in designed distressed jeans. You can fray the knees as well, though do so a little above the knee, as this area is about to be cut in step #7.
Step #7.Cut the Distressed Jeans
How much you distress your jeans is up to you, but typically you would have at least one cut in designer distressed jeans. To create a cut, fold the fabric and cut across it with sharp scissors. Make smaller cuts than the actual tear or hole you would like in the jeans, as you will be fraying and unraveling it next, which will increase the size of the hole.
Step #8. Unravel the Cuts
To give the cuts in your distressed jeans the look of wear over time, rub them with the sandpaper to start fraying and unraveling the weave of the jeans. Use the tweezers to pull out the white vertical threads, then twirl them together.
The important thing to remember about how to distress jeans is that anything goes really, just as in reality jeans would slowly fade and get torn in a thousand different ways. It’s up to you how you want your distressed jeans to look. So take your time looking at designer distressed jeans online and in stores, then plan how to distress your jeans to make them look the same way and give you a designer look on a budget.
Mahalo: “How to Make Your Own Ripped Jeans“
Jeans & Accessories: “How to Distress Jeans“