Top 5 Distressed Denim DIY YouTube Tutorials

I thought it would be great to put together a post which has quite a few ways to distress your jeans. Instead of creating my own long video with many ways, which would be quite time consuming, I have been scouring YouTube for a while to find informative videos which will help you in your DIY distressing. I’ve found many different ways, some including even running over your jeans with a car, however I haven’t included extravagant tutorials like that, I have included simple and easy to do videos below. You can also see my video round up of general denim DIY here.

This video I found the most interesting. I have seen it before and I think I made a post on it a long time ago, however the post wasn’t for this purpose. These jeans are raw and it reminds me a lot of the process I went through with my customizing challenge. Sandpapering the creases are a very good way of making natural and authentic looking fades, as that’s where the jeans naturally fall. Then sanding lightly over the entire jean adds that worn in look and if you sand the belt loops, pockets and zipper fly that also creates a worn in feel. I am not fond of the circle or the bleach spots he created in this video, but the sanding is one of the easiest and cheapest methods you can do to really make your jeans look worn in and distressed. He didn’t create any distressed holes in this video, however you can easily do so by watching some of the others below.

I know these jeans are created into a pair of shorts, however the concept is equally the same. She used sandpaper on the tougher edges to roughen them up a bit and the best way for making actual small distressed holes is by making slits where you want them and then putting them in the washing machine and dryer. Washing the jeans loosens up the fabric threads so they begin to fall out a little bit and then the chucking around inside the dryer pulls the threads out so they end up looking frayed. This is the easiest way to do it if you just want minimally frayed edges of the slits you created. It works well for shorts as the hemline which you chopped becomes really frayed as well. It’s not the most ideal way though if you want a big destructed hole, this method is better for minimal wear and tear.

Now this video above is very useful if all you have lying around is a razor blade or scalpel. This method works really well for getting that look of vintage holes in your jeans with the white threads still showing through, so it’s not a complete hole. I love this type of distressing the most as it doesn’t show so much skin and it makes the jeans look roughed up and really worn in. To create this look, the razor blade isn’t the only option, I will show you other ways in a minute, but it’s definitely an easy way. You can see that she creates white thread holes really fast just by slicing the fabric and then scratching away at the dark blue threads. I know this method will sometimes actually cut some of the white threads and not leave them very neat, it also wont leave the overall hole shape tidy either, but it’s good for getting the more vintage and carefree look.

This video is fairly short and it shows you just purely how to create the holes with the white thread still showing. Instead of using a razor blade like the above video, she used a pair of tweezers, scissors and a needle. However from experience you don’t always need the needle, depending on the denim you have. After you make your slits in the denim, if you just tug at them a little bit to separate the blue and white threads, you can then start wiggling the blue threads loose as you pull them out with the tweezers. By doing this all the way along the 2 slits, it takes out every blue thread and just leaves the white ones. It’s a long and monotonous process, but this is usually the result you get on your shop bought distressed jeans and it’s actually very easy to do.

Now this video above is another way to create the white thread holes, however it’s different to all the other methods I have seen before. Instead of creating slits and working within them, she cuts a hole and starts pulling the white threads loose instead of the blue and then chopping away the blue fray afterwards. I think this way creates more natural looking holes as it’s not working within pre cut slits, it’s going with the natural lines of the denim, however it’s a much longer and time consuming process it seems. I haven’t personally tried it myself, but I think I will. I do quite like the shape of the holes when they are done, rather than them just being squares.

So anyway, these are 5 of the best videos that I come across on YouTube when I was searching for over an hour and I think they highlight all of the different ways you can distress your denim. From minimal fraying to distressed holes and even fading, I think there are plenty of tips and ideas you can take away from this post for your own distressed denim DIY! I know it gave me new inspirations for my DIY that I like to do on my jeans! How many of you actually DIY your own jeans?

Written by Lorna Burford


  1. What a great step-by-step detailed post on how to create distressed jeans yourself at home. All the different methods have been covered but I especially like the process where you’ve taken and communicated the “best of the best” to save me time and energy in locating the same resources. Thanks!

  2. Hi there,

    Thanks for sharing these videos. I just have a minor concern in regards to jeans that look like they’re made of a lighter material – you’d find these especially in high end boutiques. Are jeans fabrics the same for all kinds of jeans or is there a variation? In my opinion, trying to distress jeans that, for example lose most of their color after a few washes is taking a bit of a risk.


  3. Hi, there are many many different jeans fabrics, most are all different. You get the different blends like poly/cotton, lycra, elastane, 100% cotton etc and then you also get the weight which is the thickness, that runs in ounces. I would only recommend distressing your 100% cotton jeans or jeans that are thick and sturdy, the super elasticated ones like jeggings wont work very well at all. Hope that helps!

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