As we mentioned yesterday, distressed denim is a huge trend this season. However, while it is totally tempting to splurge on a new pair- it’s hard to justify. Perhaps it was the lecture we received at a young age about spending money on pants that were already ripped? While we want to be thrifty, we still want to rock the trend- so we partnered up with the adorable Amanda (of Advice from a Twenty Something) who just so happens to be a DIY guru. Turns out- destroying denim (and making it look cute) is something anyone can easily do!

Amanda has a lot of experience with this project- she’s attempted to make distressed denim many times in the past using cheese graters, sand paper… you name it! She found a simple solution: a sand paper block. It’s sturdier than sand paper alone and tougher than a cheese grater. You can literally create perfectly distressed rips and tears in under an hour!

As for jeans, Amanda suggests Old Navy– not only because they’re super affordable, but the material is very thin and perfect for distressing. SheI also chose a pair with a worn-in look so the rips and tears would look even more natural. Follow along with Amanda’s easy steps to create your perfect pair. Let’s get started!

1 pair of jeans
sand paper block
fabric scissor


Step 1: Start with the largest hole on your knee. It’s helpful to try the jeans on first and mark where your knee lays just to be safe. Then make a small snip with your scissors and cut a thin hole across the knee.

Step 2: Use the sand paper block to fray the hole and add more tears around it. Rub the block in different directions. I’ve found the best way to create the perfect fray is by rubbing the block horizontally first, and then vertically. Don’t be embarrassed if your arms get tired – mine totally did!

Step 3: Choose other areas around the jeans to distress. I chose to snip another tiny hole near the pocket and then used the sand paper block on top of it. I also created a longer tear on the opposite thigh, without using the scissors.

Step 4: Once you’re done distressing the denim, toss them in the washer and dryer. This will really bring out the frayed areas and make them more noticeable.


TIP: In order to create the perfect shorts out of denim pants, it’s best to choose a pair of pants that are looser in the thigh. I chose a pair of boyfriend jeans from Old Navy, again because they’re affordable and if you mess up your DIY, it won’t be a total waste.

Step 1: There are 2 ways to find the perfect length for your shorts. One is to use a pair of shorts you already own. If you have a pair that already is the perfect length, you can measure them against the jeans. If you don’t, try on a pair of shorts you have and use measuring tape to measure your preferred length. It’s best to make them longer than you think, just to be safe.

Step 2: Once you find your perfect length, measure against the jeans in three places: the inner seem, the outer seem, and in the middle. Use these three spots to mark where you’ll cut the jeans. Do this on both legs.

Step 3: It’s time to chop! Follow the marks you created with the scissors. The line should not be straight across, but rather at an angle: longer on the inner seem and shorter towards the outer seem. It’s best to try them on after this to make sure they’re the length you want. I made mine a length I can either leave as is or roll.

Step 4: This is optional since the washer/dryer will do this for you, but if you want to distress them a bit more, use your sand paper block on the cut edges.

Step 5: Toss them in the washer/dryer to get that perfectly frayed look.

The final step? Head over to our latest Weekly Wardrobe to see how to style your new denim! Which look will you be trying first??