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How to Make Distressed Jeans

Do you want a designer look without spending a lot of cash? Make your old jeans look like expensive, distressed jeans for a fraction of the cost.


  • Step 1: Place a block of wood in the pant leg Place the small block of wood in one pant leg at the spot you want to distress. Near the knee is a good spot.
  • Step 2: Rub a cheese grater on the spot to distress Rub a cheese grater horizontally and vertically over the wood on the outside of the pant leg to give your jeans a worn look. Rub gently for a mildly distressed look and more vigorously for a seriously worn look, or to start holes.
  • TIP: Don't use scissors to cut holes into your jeans. You won't get the frayed look that you get with a cheese grater.
  • Step 3: Rub sandpaper around edges of the jeans Rub sandpaper around the edges of the jeans to give them a softer look. Fray the edges around the pockets, knees, and hemlines.
  • TIP: Practice your technique with a cheap or older pair of jeans that you don't wear. Work on your practice jeans until you learn the skills to work on your favorite pair.
  • Step 4: Bleach the outer edges of the holes Add a small amount of bleach to a sponge. Dab the sponge along the worn areas and the edges of holes to add to the faded look.
  • Step 5: Remove the back pockets Use a seam ripper to remove the back pockets.
  • TIP: Use a paintbrush to splash a bit of paint or oil on the jeans to add a different stained look.
  • Step 6: Wash the jeans Turn your jeans inside out and wash them in cold water and let them line dry. Now wear them out on the town and show off your new look.
  • FACT: The first pair of riveted blue jeans, made in 1873, had one back pocket, a watch pocket, and suspender buttons.

You Will Need

  • Pair of jeans
  • Block of wood
  • Cheese grater
  • Sandpaper
  • Bleach
  • Sponge
  • Seam ripper
  • Another pair of jeans (optional)
  • Paintbrush (optional)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Oil (optional)

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