A few weeks ago, I mentioned in my wardrobe building blocks post that distressed denim is one of my closet staples. In fact, as far as jeans go, I don’t think I own a pair that isn’t distressed. There’s just something so effortless, laid back, and visually appealing about it. If my jeans come without or with very little distressing, I just can’t help but add some to them.

I also get asked all the time for a distressed denim tutorial, so it’s finally time for one. And better yet — it’s a video tutorial!

And since the video is super quick, I’ve also included 6 other tips below to help with distressing your denim.

1. 1.On your jeans, the blue threads run vertically, and the white threads underneath run horizontally. Knowing this helps give direction to your unpicking, sand papering, and cutting.

2. In the video, I show how to expose the white threads, which creates a really nice distressed look. Creating a large spot of exposed white threads is done in just the same way, but just takes some time to push away all those blue threads that are running vertically along your legs. The blue threads are weaved under and over the white threads, so carefully use your seam ripper to pull the blue threads and un-weave them to expose longer sections of white and create a nice white thread patch.

3. To create a large knee hole, like the one I made in these jeans, it’s best to just cut your hole first, and then distress around the edges to camouflage the scissor cuts. I personally think it’s best to cut an irregular hole, like the hole in the knee on this pair of jeans. This makes it look the most natural. But straight across slits can look great too, like this pair that just exposes a few of those white threads.

4. The washing machine is your best friend when it comes to distressing. Whenever I cut holes in my jeans, I always throw them in the washer and dryer, and it frays the edges just enough to create an effortless hole.

5. The best places to put holes are in the knees and up at the pockets, and the best places to have distressing with the white threads exposed is along the outer thighs.

6. If you’re worried about your distressing (especially the holes) fraying too much, stitch around the entire hole with a straight stitch on your sewing machine and this will prevent any excess fraying.

I’ll cover patches in another post, so stay tuned for that! Any other questions on distressing your denim?

Also I’ve rounded up some of my favorite distressed denim which you can shop by clicking on the images, or just use them for distressing inspiration!

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thank you to StyleList for producing and editing this video!


  1. This is a really random question, but where is the top from thats in the bottom far left picture in the collage above? It’s so cute! Also, I couldn’t find the video you made. However, your tips for distressing denim are really easy to follow and I can’t wait to distress something now!

  2. Whitney says:

    Merrick, I just have to say, great job in the video. Sometimes when bloggers or you tubers make videos their voices and smiles seem forced or unnatural, but you sounded totally natural.

  3. Paige Cassandra Flamm says:

    You did an amazing job in that video! It seemed so easy and natural for you! Also I loved the tip with the sandpaper! Such and easy way to rough them up a little bit!


  4. Meghan Jenson says:

    How fun to hear your voice!

  5. Sharon Green says:

    You did such a great job in this video, Merrick! You reminded me of a seasoned television personality, and the whole video was really well put together. I must say though, it was super weird hearing your voice for the first time!

    Keep up the amazing work!

    • Merrick says:

      Ha! I totally know how that is to follow someone for a long time and then finally hear them speak!

      And thanks for your super kind words — you’re a gem.

  6. Laura Blanton says:

    I agree with Sharon! Lol. So funny, I never realized I had a “Merrick” voice in my head until I heard your actual voice in this video. So weird (in an awesome kind of way). And I too love this video. Extremely natural + great tips (as always). Keep on keepin’ on lady!

  7. Kristie says:

    Love this post! You are awesome on the video! So excited to do some distressing!

  8. Sarah says:

    I am so glad that I saw this post! Definitely going to have to try this.


  9. Jill says:

    I have a few pairs of jeans I want to distress so I’m so glad that I saw your post! Your video is great! Thanks for the tutorial!

    Doused In Pink

  10. Picky says:

    I like that did it at home. Studied your article and video is Your article – the best!

  11. Jade Gixxer says:

    Great video! it totally helped, I found this DIY Distress Kit on Amazon and couldn’t wait to put it to use, so I collaborrated articles and this video and viola, I did it on shirts, shorts, even some faux jean leggings that was tedious. But it all worked out thanks! super chic!

  12. ASHER BRYCE says:

    It is a very advantageous post for me. I’ve enjoyed reading the post. It is very supportive and useful post. I would like to visit the post once more its valuable content. Thanks for sharing this so interesting post! I really want to be thankful for the way you have put it here.

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