how to rip jeans
Sustainability

Upcycling: how to rip your own jeans

Want to know how to make rips in your pants the right way? Follow this guide on how to make DIY ripped jeans and get more wear from your old clothes.

Whether the knees of your favourite jeans are stained or you’ve noticed a tiny hole that seems to get bigger with every wear, you don’t have to throw your jeans away. If the fit is right and they are still in good condition, re-style them with a ripped look. If you’ve always wanted to rock the pre-torn look, save money with this guide on how to rip jeans the right way.

What you need for DIY ripped jeans

You’ll need the following equipment if you want to know how to rip jeans for a professional look:

  • Tailor’s chalk
  • Fabric scissors
  • A pin and/or pair of tweezers

How to make ripped jeans

  1. Design the tear: look online for inspiration on the style of rip you want and how big you want it to be. Do you want a distressed denim look that has a laddered appearance? Do you want a hole across the kneecap that’s frayed at the edges?
  2. Shape the tear: using tailor’s chalk, draw horizontal lines across the desired area. If you’re going for the distressed denim look, draw several horizontal lines that are spaced about 1.5 cm apart. For a big hole across the knee, mark the desired shape you want.
  3. Cut the tear: if you want to know how to make rips in your pants, pinch the fabric across the horizontal lines and make a small cut. Once the cut has been made, lay the fabric out flat and cut the full length of the lines or the shape you’ve marked out.
  4. Fray the edges: take your pin or tweezers to tease out the horizontal white and vertical blue threads. To distress the denim, be very careful not to cut or damage the white threads and use tweezers to pull out the blue threads. Do this until the entire area you want to distress only has white horizontal threads remaining. To give your tear a frayed edge, do the opposite: tease out the blue threads with a pin but cut off the horizontal white threads that appear across the hole.
  5. Wash your jeans: clear away all the little bits of thread and get rid of any potential chalk marks by throwing your jeans in the washing machine and using a good detergent like OMO to make them feel fresh and new.

Once your jeans are clean and dry, you can proudly wear your DIY ripped jeans down the street. No one will be able to tell that they aren’t a new pair of jeans. It will be your little secret.

Key points:

  • Decide what style of rip you want
  • Use fabric scissors to make a tear
  • Fray or distress the denim with a pin or pair of tweezers

Top Tip


Test making distressed and frayed tears on an old pair of denim jeans first. It’s easy to make a hole too big or the wrong shape on your first try.