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DIY Denim Distressing: Here’s How To Do It

We love a good recipe. But our favorite kind is less stirring and sautéing, more ripping and repairing. Yep, we’re talking denim distressing recipes, aka how to get that loved and lived-in look you want (and play denim designer at the same time). Below, you’ll find three of our tried-and-true denim distressing formulas, for right-now details like raw hems and artful tears. You’ll need: scissors, a seam ripper, a Dremel rotary tool (not as scary as it sounds, Google it), elbow grease and confidence. You got this.

IF YOU WANT: RAW HEMS

STEP 1
Mark your cut with a piece of chalk—it should be slightly longer than you anticipate wanting your seam length. You can always go shorter but you’ll never get back length.

STEP 2
Alternate cutting and tearing along your marked line.

STEP 3
Toss them in the wash—these require a spin cycle to get those perfectly imperfect hems you want.

IF YOU WANT: DISTRESSING THROUGHOUT

STEP 1
Use chalk to draw the shape of the hole you want.

STEP 2
Skim the surface of the jeans with a Dremel tool (found at hardware stores). Never used one? Start slowly (!) until you get the hang of it.

STEP 3
Continue running your tool over this area until you expose the natural yarns; if you want holes, tear these with your fingers.

STEP 4
Once you’ve finished, wash ’em. A trip through the washing machine will get those frayed edges to look authentically lived in (aka just the way you want them to look).

IF YOU WANT: DROPPED HEMS

STEP 1
Rip the hem stitch with a seam ripper. You might get lucky and release a thread that allows the whole hem to pull down, but if not, alternate between ripping the seam and pulling.

STEP 2
Once your hem has been released, run an iron over it a few times to help it lie flat.

Ready to get distressed (in the best possible way)? Shop our newest denim and find a pair that’s perfect for whatever your DIY heart desires.