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How to fray your jeans in 3 easy steps

When paired with a simple white T-shirt and a cropped black leather jacket, frayed jeans can be the golden staple to pulling together the perfect off-duty look. A quality pair of frayed denims will cost you far too many loonies, so we suggest taking the simple “upcycle” route.

What you need:

How to Fray Jeans: The Supplies
Image: Kortney Gruenwald
  • The jeans of your choice
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sandpaper (I used three different types for a higher level of customization) 
  • White pencil or chalk
  • Tweezers
  • Ruler

Tips to know before you start: 

  • Iron your jeans first so the length is accurate.
  • Get inspiration from online or a magazine — it’s always best to have a vision to start with.

1. Plan and draw

How to fray jeans: Plan and Draw
Image: Kortney Gruenwald/SheKnows

Using a ruler and white pencil, carefully measure where you want your cuts to be. You can make as many or as few as you wish — this is your design! I chose to cut both the bottom cuffs and the knee areas.

I suggest marking one or two places to add “distressed” details using sandpaper. These tiny but important touches are the difference between an obvious DIY and a “Wow, where did she buy those jeans?” DIY.

More: How to tailor a pair of jeans

2. Straighten and cut

How to fray jeans: Straighten and Cut
Image: Kortney Gruenwald/SheKnows

Straighten out your jeans so the fabric is even. Following the marked lines and using scissors, make your main cuts as accurate to the lines as possible. Don’t be afraid — mistakes are OK and can always be straightened out by trimming the initial cut.

When making cuts by the knee area, avoid cutting too closely to the seams. The more you wear your jeans, this frayed area will naturally grow, and you don’t want to compromise the structure. Use the “less is more” rule in delicate areas like this.

More: How to find the perfect pair of jeans (VIDEO)

3. Detail and distress

How to Fray Jeans: Fray and Distress
Image: Kortney Gruenwald/SheKnows
This is where the fray magic happens (and the totally fun part). Using your tweezers, pull through the tiny white threads from the areas you cut. How much fray you want is up to you. I went with a modest approach, as natural fray will increase through washes and wear.
Take your sandpaper, and rub the areas where you want the distressed look. I recommend having a few types of sandpaper on hand, as each varying texture will give you a different level of distress and allows you to create a versatile, customized look.
How to fray jeans: before and after
Image: Kortney Gruenwald/SheKnows
And there you have it. Keep this easy DIY fashion trick on hand whenever you’re craving a bit more fray in your style.

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