Doin’ it Yourself: Ripped jeans (the right way)

There’s something about jeans with rips in them…Something that makes the inner rockstar come out in me. You take a straightener to my hair and get some Paramore playing in the background and it’s all over. Headbang to the face.

When “rockstar jeans” were really started to come out into the scene in the designer brands, some cool chicks realized that they could make their own “rockstar jeans” by just buying a normal pair of jeans and adding their own rips (and not paying a million dollars for jeans with holes in them).

Totally a great idea, right? But let me tell you a little something: there’s an art to it. The first time I read an article about making my own shredded jeans, this is what the directions were: buy a pair of jeans, take a cheese grater to them. That’s like giving someone a bunch of pencils and telling them to draw a dinosaur without showing them how. Sort of.

So I’m gonna tell you how to rip a pair of jeans the right way.

We’re gonna go from this……………………………………………………to this.


1) Buy a pair of jeans that have a slim bootcut, straight, or skinny leg. I prefer a lighter wash for a more vintage look. And make sure the jeans are mostly cotton, none of that 30% polyester crap.

Little side-story on jeans shopping, because if you live in Fresno, I want you to know about this store: Plato’s Closet.

Basically, it’s an upscale thrift store; the clothes are purchased from customers with the intention to sell used fashionable clothes at a reasonable price. And they have RACKS of brand name jeans–which range from Old Navy to True Religion. Earlier this summer, I bought a ten-dollar pair of Lucky Brand jeans there and now they’re my favorite cutoff shorts. TRUE story.

So I went back to find some jeans to rip, and $16 later, here they are…Time to rip.

2) Put the jeans on. It makes the shredding process easier and you’ll actually know where the rips are going to be…which is REALLY important if you’re putting holes in the knees…

3) Determine where you want the rips to be–this is more important if you want knee rips. Check out where the knee spots are when you’re standing up and squatting. For me, I liked my knee rips more on the top part of the knee where the thigh touches, instead of directly on the knee cap.

4) Now, here’s the major important part: there is a right way and a wrong way to rip jeans. This is uber-serious. You can’t just take a pair of scissors and start cutting holes or just hack away with a cheese grater. Your jeans will look like you swam around in a bucket of razors, and nobody thinks that looks cool. Nobody.

So this is what you need: a small pair of really sharp scissors. Not the kind you’d find in an elementary school craft box–I’m talking your mom’s good sewing scissors that you could lacerate someone’s jugular with (not a recommendation, by the way).

Now, take the scissors open them, and use one of the edges to scrape the surface of the material horizontally (against the grain of the threads). Depending on the size of the rip you want and the type of jean material, it could take a while to really get under the surface. Basically, you’re going to use the sharp edge and point of the scissors to scratch and pick at the material to get past the superficial vertical threads to expose the white horizontal threads beneath without majorly damaging the white threads. Once you start getting in there, you’ll get the feel for how the jeans are knit together and you’ll be able to pull at the threads to make them fray out.

Let’s do this.

Once my rips on the knees got big enough, I pulled at the sides to rip them wider just a little. I also shredded some small spots on the upper thighs, too. Another way to make your jeans look more distressed is to scrape at the edges of the pockets.

Ready for part 2?

Since my jeans were bootcut, I decided to make the legs straighter. This is easy-peasy if you have a sewing machine.

1) With the jeans on, pinch at the sides to get a good feeling about how you’ll want to pin them.

2) Put them on inside out and pin the outer leg into the shape you want it.

3) Take the jeans off, and sew along the pins.

4) Test the result, see if you’re happy with how they turned out. If you’re not…redo the stitching or sew ’em skinnier. If you’re happy, cut off the excess material.

FINAL STEP: Send those sweeties through the washer and the dryer and


Those are some rockin’ jeans.


15 thoughts on “Doin’ it Yourself: Ripped jeans (the right way)

  1. I tried this. Works AMAZINGLY! The only thing is that you should always wear something underneath, as the scissors cut up my legs a little. But otherwise, STUNNING OUTCOME!!!!


  2. I just used your guide and it worked very well thank you! :) I want my knee to be slightly visible when I stand with my legs straight so should I cut off some jean above?


  3. Pingback: We All Need Boyfriend Jeans | the musings of a colourful mind

  4. I came here for instructions but your sense of humor and backstory made me smile while still informing me how to achieve this.
    I saw your mini bio thing and I’m a lot like you, but probably younger, okay this is creepy. Sorry, thanks again for the smiles.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. im a teen and i love this look as i fell the other day and his helped me make it look like its surpose to be there so thankyou ever so much 😃😃


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