Lets talk distressed denim. It's trending big time right now and for good reason; almost anyone can pull it off and it can be dressed up or down. Most retailers are including it in their lines, so it is fairly easy for me to acquire for myself, but when it comes to finding a good pair of ripped/distressed jeans for Lilly, that is another story...
I have found it difficult to find truly ripped/distressed jeans in toddler sizes at a reasonable price point. The retailers that I frequent have started to offer "distressed" options, but they are not really what I look for. They tend to look more like they have patch work or stitching rather than fraying and/or ripping. There some great sellers from small shops on Instagram and Etsy that make distressed denim for the littles but they have a 3-5 week turnaround time and a bit of a higher price point, which is totally justified! Making these babies is a lot of work and has to be done by hand, so the price and turnaround time is definitely reasonable, I'm just not patient enough to wait 3 weeks plus and then 5 -7 business days for shipping. And so, I decided to take a crack at making them myself and it was surprisingly easy!
Step 1: Find your first victim(s)
I decided I would start with 2 pairs of Lilly's jeans that I wanted to update but wouldn't be heartbroken if I ruined in the process (it was my first time tearing up some jeans and mistakes can happen!). I chose a pair of boyfriend jeans that I love, but that needed some rips to be complete (in my opinion) and a pair of stretchy skinny jeans that have a faint stain on one knee (what better way to get rid of a stain!?) that she will probably outgrow by this fall.
Step 2: Put them on and mark them up
Putting the jeans on to mark where your rips will go is a must! not everyone's knees fall at the same location and this is especially true of children. Mark with a pencil, chalk or anything else that will wash off easily.
Step 3: Cut
Once your jeans are marked, make a snip on your marker and cut as straight as possible. The great part about DIY distressing is that you can customize the look of your jeans. I chose to stay a little conservative with the rips my first go round.
I went straight across to about the seam on the knees of the grey skinnies, as I wanted them to be just frayed slits as well as cutting them along the hem line for a frayed hem. If this is the look you are going for then you are done and all you need to do is wash and dry! (Step 5)
On the boyfriends I cut into the knees and added an extra slit on one of the legs below the front pocket. These slits were cut slightly shorter as they were going to be a bit larger in width because I chose to add exposed threads, you'll see how to do this in the next step.
Step 4: Pull the threads
For the boyfriend jeans I decide to do exposed threads in each slit, which requires an extra step and a seam ripper.
Using the seam ripper, gently pull up on the threads that run horizontally, one at a time. I found it helpful to turn the jeans inside out to do this because the horizontal threads were more visible. As you pull your threads up it also helps to cut away the excess vertical frays that are exposed (see below).
Step 5: Wash and dry and done!
Once your are done pulling threads, which is undoubtedly the most tedious and time consuming of all the steps, the only thing left to do is toss them in the wash and then dry them! They come out soft and frayed and perfectly imperfectly distressed!
I Hope you find this tutorial helpful. I really kept it simple and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to distress the jeans myself! I may never buy another pair of ripped jeans again!
Now go have some fun shredding some denim and Good luck!
Hi! I'm Lisa, a wife and mommy who loves fashion, home decor and projects and sharing our favorite baby / kids gear and activities. Thanks for following along on my journey through Mommy Life. Styled.