DIY: How To Distress a Denim Jacket

Step-by-step
visuals so you’ll be torn to perfection


Written
by Ties.com


You
know what looks kind of strange, even unsettling? A perfectly pristine denim
jacket on a man. It’s like a shirt with every single button done or a
meticulously gelled combover; something about it gives off American Psycho
vibes. On the other hand, a ratty jacket with gaping holes and whiskery frays
appears to have barely survived a bar fight with a raccoon. That’s why we’re
giving you a manual: How to Distress Denim, flawlessly.

DIY
Distressed Jeans


Denim,
on some level, is meant to be distressed. Invented as workwear for gold miners,
jeans have always possessed a rugged charm. From the hypermasculine Marlboro
Cowboy to modern streetwear aficionados, distressed denim takes the gold for
timeless cool. But in order to nail this look, you should know how to distress
jeans the right way. You want tastefully “off-the-cuff” distressed; not
“on-the-run” distressed, like an asylum escapee. We’ll show you exactly how to
make a ripped denim jacket look good.
Tools
You’ll Need for DIY Distressed Denim:

  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Box
    Cutter
  • Sand
    Paper
  • Small
    Clips (for clothes pins)
  • Lint
    Roller
  • Chalk
  • Foam
    Core (or cardboard)
Step
1: Plan Out Your Distress Pattern


Have
you ever just splattered paint on a blank canvas? Maybe you were seized by
creative fervor, but chances are, your artwork turned out looking crappy. A
lack of preparation is the easiest way to ruin an expensive jean jacket.
how to distress denim jacket mark with chalk
Get
Inspo’d


Get
inspiration online. Search Pinterest and Instagram for examples of denim jackets
that call out to you. How heavy is the distressing? Where are the distressed
patches placed?
Make
a Distress Pattern Blueprint with Chalk


To
plan properly, wear the jacket for a more accurate feel of where you’d like the
distressed marks and holes. Mark these areas with chalk.

Try
to imagine areas of your jacket that might get distressed naturally over time.
Like the shoulders, the collars, sleeve cuffs, and seam ends.

You
may want larger distressed patches on the shoulders and on the bottom back.
Protip: if you want a hole around your elbow, mark 1-2 inches above and below
the joint.
Step
2: Ways to Distress a Denim Jacket


A
few different approaches on roughing up your denim to create the perfectly
ripped jean jacket.
Make
Holes and Patches


Here’s
how to make holes in your jeans and jean jacket. Remember: your box cutter is
your paintbrush, and just like paint on a canvas, it’s permanent. Be deliberate
and precise with your marks. Cut along the areas you had outlined with chalk.
how to distress denim jacket boxcutter
how to distress denim jacket sandpaper
how to distress denim tweezers
how to distress denim jacket patches
Steps
on How to Make Holes in Jeans

  • Before
    you cut, add a layer of cardboard beneath the layer of fabric you’re cutting.
    This way, you won’t tear through both layers.
  • With
    your box cutter, cut horizontal lines about 0.5 inches apart from each other.
    For a natural looking tear, cut in a diamond shape, with shorter slices that
    grow gradually longer midway and return to short at the end.
  • Use
    sandpaper to distress your cuts. Try to use coarse grit sandpaper and rub
    horizontally across the cuts until you see a blue fray appearing. These are the
    blue threads separating from the white threads. The short vertical blue fibers
    are the manufacturer’s synthetic dyed threads.
  • Now
    using your tweezers, carefully remove the blue threads away from the white
    threads.
  • Tease
    out the white horizontal threads, loosening them but being careful not to break
    them.
  • Use
    a lint roller to remove any excess string and fabric particles.
Give
Texture and Roughness


For
slightly lighter distressing, you can also use the sandpaper to scuff up the
jacket without cutting holes. The erosion will give your denim a faded look.
This is best for areas of the jacket that have two sides sewn together, like
the bottom, the collar, or the sleeve cuffs.


how to distress denim jacket scuff up

Steps
on How to Scuff Up Denim

  • Pinch
    up the top layer of fabric to separate it from the second layer. Use clips to
    keep the two layers separated.
  • Take
    your scissors and make small snips along the pinched part.
  • You
    can use your fingernails to distress these cuts a bit.
  • Use
    your sandpaper again to distress more.
Beat
Up the Seams


Distress
along the seams for a complete rough and worn aesthetic. This includes the
edges of your jacket and the pocket seams.
how to distress denim seams
Steps
on How to Distress Along the Seams

  • Use
    scissors to cut small pieces off the very ends of your jacket, horizontal to
    the seam. Be careful not to cut the stitching that holds the end pieces
    together.
  • Use
    your sandpaper to distress these cuts.
Step
#3: Cold Wash And Dry


Put
your jacket through a cold wash to get rid of any remaining debris. Make sure
to use cold water, as warm or hot water could destroy the newly-torn fabric.
Then run your jacket through a dry cycle so that each fresh and deliberate cut
will get a naturally worn edge.

Step
#4: Tie the Look Together with Accessories


Top
off your personalized distressed denim look with some expressive details, like
lapel pins.
how to distress denim jacket and accessorize with lapel pins
Shop
Lapel Pins


Now
that we’ve demonstrated how to distress denim flawlessly and to your liking, go
ahead and try it out. Feel free to post your results in the comments.

sartorial
savages



SOURCE: THE GENTLEMANUAL
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.