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DIY: How to distress your jeans

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

How to get that worn-in look

Of course, you can buy distressed jeans at the store. However, you can also make them yourself. Take an old pair of jeans and turn them into a trendy favorite with these tips on how to distress your jeans.
Distressed jeans

If you don't want to wait the time it takes for your new jeans to get worn out, you can speed up the process and distress your denim yourself without spending much money at all.

Protect the other side

Protect the other side of your jeans by inserting a solid surface into the pant leg that you want to distress. You can use an old ironing board, a block of wood, a piece of cardboard or some other surface that you don't mind damaging.

Grab a cheese grater

An easy way to distress your jeans is with a cheese grater. If your jeans are already old, you won't need to rub hard before you start to create the holes, tears and rips that you are aiming for. You can also use a knife or the blade of scissors, but we find that an ordinary handheld cheese grater works the best. The more vigorously you grate the fabric, the more visible the distressing will be.

Add bleach

Once you have created some holes and tears, you can make them look older by applying bleach. Use a sponge with a little bit of bleach or household cleaner. Rub around the edges of the holes for the most authentic distressing. Don't apply too much bleach -- and be sure to protect your hands with rubber gloves.

Take our quiz: What's the best jean style for your body? >>

Use sandpaper

To get that softly worn look on the knees, hemlines and pockets of your jeans, you just need a piece of coarse sandpaper. By rubbing sandpaper in these areas, you can gently fray denim to create a naturally-worn appearance. No one will even know you didn't pay the big bucks for a pair of designer distressed jeans. A nail file can also be useful to create fraying.

Tear a pocket

Use a seam ripper to loosen the stitching along the edge of one of the back pockets. Don't tear the pocket all the way off -- just remove a couple inches of one of the side seams.

Wash your jeans

To enhance the tearing and fraying that you have just created, you will need to wash your jeans. Wash them two or three times and then your distressed jeans will be ready to go.

Watch this video tutorial on how to create edgy, distressed jeans.

More about jeans

Stylish jeans for moms
Candy-colored denim for spring
Jeans: How to find the best fit for your body

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