DIY: How to destroy & distress denim + Smoothie Recipe


Do you love ripped, destroyed, distressed denim, but don’t know how to create the look yourself? I’m sharing my DIY secrets. Also, see my smoothie recipe for today. Keep reading! 

One of my pleasures in life is denim! Ripped up, destroyed and distressed denim excites all my senses. Over the years, I’ve learned some tricks to creating this look for myself and also a few things I learned NOT to do! Let’s start with the NOTS so we can end on an up note.

Do not use too-tight, stretch jeans. The material will bunch up once cut and look saggy or the hole created will be filled with bulging skin trying to escape those too tight jeans.

Do not cut out patches or make large holes in pants or shorts higher than the front pockets or near the crotch area. You risk showcasing your underwear or literally ruining your denim garment all together. You can distress anywhere but gigantic holes near your underwear might not work.

Do not experiment on your favorite pair of jeans or your favorite jean jacket. Instead, start off with something that you can fit, but that you won’t mind losing if you make a mistake.

Now that those are out of the way! Lets get to the fun part!

My favorite things to distress/destroy are denim jackets, shorts and of course denim pants. The tools I use to accomplish this are:

  • Sharp scissors
  • Sharp tweezers
  • Razor/Foot Grater (The ones used in pedicures. Don’t judge me lol)
  • Occasionally I use bleach
  • A pen that will show through denim
  • A thick magazine
  • A small trash bag

To make shorts, start with a pair of “mom jeans” (high-waisted vintage jeans) that you may have laying around from back-in-the-day, or that you may have found from a thrift shop. (You can buy a pair at a thrift shop usually for $5.00 or less.) You can also use a pair of jeans that already fit you well.

To make denim pants, I’m going to divide this into 2 categories:

1. To make tight fighting, skinny jean rocker pants, start with tight fitting, skinny jeans with as little stretch as possible and make sure the length doesn’t exceed the bottom of your foot. (Around the ankle length or just below that is the most accurate for the rocker look unless you intend to roll them up. In my opinion, that looks better on the option below.)

2. To make loose, boyfriend style jeans, start with (you guessed it,) loose (But not too loose. They still need to fit), THICK, but comfy, jeans. These can be ankle length or extra long for rolling up. Either looks great to me.

Okay! Here’s the nitty gritty. For rocker style jeans, it’s been my experience that the cuts (destroy) look the best when they are on the knees only. This way, skin is not bulging out of super tight pants which looks tacky to me. The distress, however, can be anywhere. It generally looks good near pockets & seams or above, below or next to the cuts. With black, white or solid color skinny jeans/rocker style look, I 100% think the cuts look best on the knee. Unlike blue jeans, the fabric is all one color. So there’s no contrast when there are several frayed, destroyed holes randomly all over the pants. I’m not a fan of skin-tight jeans that are destroyed all the way from top to bottom, so if this look is something you want, by all means, put the holes everywhere. Otherwise, try the jeans on and mark them using a pen where your knees bend. Take, them off, turn them inside out and cut them straight across your mark or make a cut and rip them straight across with your hands. (Be careful not to cut through to the other layer of the jean.) If you want, you can cut a part up vertically or at an angle to make them appear to have naturally ripped. This is how you achieve the destroyed look. To distress them, turn the jeans, right-side-in (If they were still inside out) and stick a thick magazine into the area you want to distress. Take a razor (be careful) or a grater and begin grating/razoring them in the opposite direction of the pattern. Once you feel they look worn in, try them on and make sure everything is where you want. If they are not, repeat more distressing. When you are satisfied, throw them in the washing machine and dryer and you have your skinny jean, rocker style destroyed jeans with holes in the knee area with distress.

Here’s the deal for shorts and boyfriend jeans. For shorts, (If you’re making them out of pants) try them on and mark them where you want them cut. The baggier the original pants, the more the back of them will flare out once they are cut, so keep this in mind before cutting too short. I always start much longer than I think I need and then try them on a few more times to cut a little off until I’m satisfied. The shorts need to fit your waist and thigh before you cut them. And for the boyfriend jeans, you want the jeans to already fit exactly how you like. (Taking a pair of way too big jeans and trying to turn them into comfy boyfriend jeans is a different article! You can definitely destroy or distress any kind of jeans you like, but for this specific look, it’s worked best for me to use pants I can fit.) So the technique I’m about to explain is the same for both shorts (Once they are cut to the length you want) and boyfriend jeans. Try them on and with a pen, mark the areas you want to distress/destroy (It’s gonna be a combo on these.) I generally like to start at the knees, and work my way up a bit to the thigh and then back down below the knees. Try to keep the marks as straight as possible because you will have to cut in a straight horizontal line. You can choose as many sections as you want and they don’t have to be connected. Once you’ve made all your marks, Take the jeans off, and turn them inside out. Whatever the size of the shape you want to cut out, don’t cut that whole space out. Instead, make small slits about half an inch apart. You should not be cutting out anything (The jeans should not be missing a patch or any patches of material). Only making slits within the space you outlined. MAKE SURE THE SLITS GO STRAIGHT ACROSS. If you cut at an angle, you wont be able to complete the distressing properly or neatly and you’ll have lots of random strings hanging which doesn’t look as cool as if you cut straight across. Once you’ve made all your slits, grab a trash bag and the tweezers. Starting at the bottom of your first slit, use the tweezers to pull out the BLUE (should be vertical) strands. They may be tightly woven in there, but once you get the first few out, they come out easily. As you remove the blue strands, you will begin to see the white strands forming horizontally in the shape you designed. When you finish one row of removing blue strands, move to the next row and repeat until your section is completely free of blue strands. Repeat for all sections. Toss the blue strands into a small trash bag. There will be plenty of them. Now take the thick magazine and roll it into the jean right-side-in, and grab the razor or the grater (again, be careful.) Start distressing areas near the cuts you just made (be careful not to ruin those areas. It just took you forever to pull those strands out!) Also you can fray the pockets and the areas that would naturally look worn. Try them on, work them until you’re satisfied.

If you want cuts-only in your pants and don’t want the white strands showing, just cut straight across in slits or tear the jeans where you want.

Once completely satisfied with your denim, throw them in the washing machine and dryer and you are done.

There are some jeans that aren’t skinny jeans or boyfriend jeans. They may be tight but also loose in certain areas. These are the jeans you can cut anywhere and distress anywhere you want to your liking. They’re generally loose enough that your skin won’t buldge out of holes and tight enough that you can still feel like a rockstar in them. These are the gray area, boot-cut, slim fit or cigarette style jeans. They can be long or short and any color. Use any technique above on these. The pictures above showcase each kind of pant; rocker skinny jean, middle/gray area jean/boyfriend jean/distressed shorts, frayed shorts, destroyed jacket & bleached jacket.

For jackets and vests, pick any of the methods stated above. You can do cuts only, distress only or a combo. To bleach the denim or lighten the tone, fill a spray bottle with half bleach, half water, and spray lightly until you’re satisfied. Do this in a room that you don’t have to sleep in or be in for long because the smell of all the bleach you’ve just sprayed into the air and the chemicals you’d be breathing in can be unbearable. To create a light-wash-worn-in look, add a little (1 teaspoon or more depending on your desires) of bleach to the washing machine once you complete any of these looks (except maybe the solid color denim unless that’s what you want.)

If you’re a visual learner, here’s a quick 1 minute youtube video that shows a very similar method to what I’ve stated above. I suggest being a little neater (a lot neater) in the cutting, but the technique is accurate. I’ve seen all the videos but sometimes I needed step by step written directions. CLICK HERE to watch the video.


The smoothie recipe for today is:

  • 1 & 1/2 frozen bananas
  • 5 large frozen strawberries
  • 2 handfuls of frozen blueberries
  • 1 handful unfrozen blueberries
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • 1/2 cup of water

Thank you for reading! Let me know if you have better ideas for DIY denim, if the smoothie recipe worked or didn’t work, or if you have a comment.

-Deja B.

Listen to my latest #MondayLoveDrop, a cover of Natalie Cole’s #Inseparable, below:




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