First off, you can see that my white denim jeans are quite a bit longer than the blue jeans. I started by cutting them off into cropped denim. I like the raw edge, and in the summer, I prefer cropped skinny jeans to long ones.
The only trick with cutting off the ankles is that you should cut the front a little shorter than the back. Because of the knee holes, the front will hang longer if you don’t adjust for the extra length that the hole adds. Cut just above the ankle and then try the pants on. You want them to fit right at the ankle or a little above.
Next, you will cut open the knee holes. If you don’t have a pair of jeans to copy, make a mark at the knee while you have your pants on. You don’t want to place the hole too high or too low. Take a serrated knife and saw along the knee to create a horizontal cut. The serrated knife will make sure it isn’t too clean, but you do want a long slice across the knee. Once it is open, use your hands to pull and rip the hole all the way across the front of the pant.
You can also use the serrated knife to scrape the denim perpendicular to the cut you just made. This will rough up the fibers around the hole and create more of a natural looking distressed look.
Next, I wanted to create some distressed patches above the knee. I made one on the near the top of the front pocket on the right leg and one at the top of the thigh on the other side. The trick for distressing without having a gaping hole is to use a razor blade and to cut two horizontal parallel lines in your denim about an inch apart. Then you take tweezers and pull the vertical fibers between the two cuts out one by one. This leaves the horizontal fibers in place, which provide the coverage.
You can see below how the fibers that need to be pulled out are the vertical ones. This can be a little tedious, but the more careful you are, the better the result.
And that is it! You can keep roughing up patches and pulling fibers until you get the look you want. Washing and drying your jeans will finish the raw edges – you will just have to trim off the strings that come out. Practice makes perfect when it comes to distressing, so feel free to try these techniques on any other old jeans before you start on your favorite pair.