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Thursday, September 19, 2013

DIY Distressed Boyfriend Jeans

This post showed up on my facebook feed a few weeks ago, and I immediately fell in love with her pants.  I've seen a lot of people wearing the boyfriend jean, with varying degrees of distress.  The thing I loved about her pants was that there were patches behind the holes.  I just wouldn't feel comfortable (at all) with a large portion of my upper thigh showing.  I looked up boyfriend jeans on the Zara website, and was completely unwilling to fork over around $60 for a pair of jeans that's partially destroyed.  Then I remembered a pair of jeans that I bought on super clearance at Target (I got two pairs for $9.00).  That were bootcut.  I thought they'd work, they were the right size, and they fit well, but I just didn't like them.  I guess I'm over bootcut?  At any rate, I knew I could do something to them and I wouldn't be upset if they were ruined.  

I started with a pair of Bootcut jeans, so I had to go through a few steps to get to the distressing part.  If you're already starting with straight leg jeans that fit, skip the first parts.

Bootcut to Straight Leg

The first thing that needed to happen was to make them into straight leg pants, not skinny. Rachel at Apple Blossom had a great tutorial for that.

Fold the bottom hem up to the knee of the pants.  If it's wider, it's bootcut (or flare).  If it matches, it's straight leg, and if it's smaller, it's tapered or skinny.

Easy Peasy.
  After sewing the straight line, trying them on, and liking them, I sewed a zig zag stitch along the edge to help the jeans avoid fraying.
Zig Zag


Typically, boyfriend jeans are cuffed, so you can just cut the hem off and skip hemming your jeans, but I wanted to do it. To do this, and maintain the original hem, follow the following steps:
Yeah, it was like, 4 inches.
 Stitch all around the hem, as close to the top (bottom?) of the original hem.
If the left is top, and right is bottom, stitch as close as you can to the bottom of the original hem.
 Cut off the extra, fold down and press, and you're done.  Jeans straight and hemmed.


 Distressing the jeans is really easy, it just takes a lot of time.  First, try on your jeans, and use a piece of chalk to mark where you want your holes to be.  After you've marked the lines, take the pants off again, fold them in the middle of where you want to have the hole, and make small snips with sharp scissors.
Keep the space between snips about half an inch or so.
 If you don't care about your leg showing through, skip the next steps.
Holes in Jeans.
 Use a separate piece of fabric to create a patch.  I cut some pants into shorts this summer, so I had some denim scraps lying around.  Cut a patch that's a little bit larger than the hole you're creating.

Place the patch inside of your jeans, behind the holes you cut, pin, and then sew carefully around the edges of the slits.

Turn your pants inside out, and trim the patch.

Your slits should look like this.  The white thread won't matter--but you can use a different color to match if you'd like.
Next, use a piece of sandpaper to rough up the seam you created by making your pants straight leg (if you did that)...

...and the hole you've created.  This should make it easier to get at some of the blue threads you'll be pulling.

Jeans are made up of blue threads running vertically, and white threads running horizontally.  You want to pull out the little blue threads, and leave the white threads intact (as much as possible).  This creates that stringy patched look. This is the step that takes the longest.  

Tweezers are vital to this part of the process.
 Tweeze out all the little blue threads, and repeat the process with any other holes you might want to add.  In the end, you too can take awkward pictures in the walkway behind your apartment!


  1. Um, these look AMAZING. Totally putting them on my "to try" list

  2. Nice work! I'm proud of/inspired by you to take what you have and make it what you want. Good for you. :) Plus, your pants look better than the girls' in the "idea" post. Go you!

  3. you amaze me. Constantly. These look awesome and your tutorial is outstanding!

  4. so cute!! i love how they turned out!

  5. They are so cute! Love the tips--especially about the distressing and pulling out the blue threads. They look awesome! Thanks for refering me as well. :)

  6. They are so cute! Love the tips--especially about the distressing and pulling out the blue threads. They look awesome! Thanks for refering me as well. :)

  7. Thank you so much - great tutorial! Question: after you sew the zigzag stitch up the side of the pants...do you cut the excess off?

    1. You do! Thanks for clarifying that point.

  8. I just finished doing my first pair! Im very much a beginner sewer, so im thrilled with the results! Your tip on hemming the bottom and keeping the seam was genius - thank you so much!

  9. Nice article. This is so much more than I needed! But will all come in use thanks!
    bootcut jeans

  10. This was such a great post! Our jeans styles such as the Bootcut Long Seam Bottom Flare Jeans are especially made to make you look flattering and glamorous.