Make your own distressed denim

Welcome back to The Monica Way and the first ever post in my new blog section….second hand hacks!


As you probably already know, I am a BIG advocate of second hand shopping. In fact, I would say that about half (or maybe ever more) of my wardrobe has either come from a charity shop, thrift store or Depop.

So why do I love second hand so much?

Well, what I really love about buying second hand is that you’re giving a piece of clothing a second life, not to mention the money you save!

Shopping second hand does not mean compromising your style, AT ALL. Second hand shopping is actually a really good way to enhance your wardrobe and grab some amazing pieces that no one else will have!

In today’s blog post I wanted to talk you through one of the ways that you can you customise your denim and make your own unique article of clothing.

Wearing my customised denim skirt.


I’d been on the market for a distressed look denim skirt for quite a while. I absolutely LOVE distressed denim but I was shocked to find how much some of the high-street shops were charging for what can only be described as an almost perfect article of clothing.

I thought to myself, nah-ah, I can make this myself for a fraction of the price.

I took a trip to Value Village (a Canadian thrift store) in Toronto and traipsed through the skirts section for a denim skirt that would be nicely fitting around my waist.

The skirt before customisation.
At $4.99, who could resist?!

The only skirt I could find that was a good fit for my waist was a white Calvin Klein petites midi skirt.

At $4.99 I couldn’t say no.

I took some inspo from pinterest for the types of looks I wanted to achieve. I wanted cute, mini and a little bit grunge.

What tools are needed to make your distressed denim?

  • Fabric scissors
  • Tweezers


Step 1: Altering the length

(If you’re altering the length of the item or if you want a frayed hem, step one applies to you)

I ensured to try on the skirt first to check where I wanted the cut off to be from (don’t just guess, you may end up going too short..I’m talking from experience). Once I had decided how short I wanted to make the skirt, I made a small mark in white chalk for guidance. I then lay it flat on the floor and cut straight across using fabric scissors.

A couple of inches cut off the bottom of the hem.

Step 2: The Hem

This is the most time-consuming part of the hem process, but its the best way to get that really organic and distressed look we see in the high street distressed denims.

Using tweezers, pull at the threads which are horizontal to the hem of the skirt (the first couple are usually the toughest to pull out). Keep pulling out the tiny threads until you reach the point where you’re happy with the look (the more you pull them, the more distressed the hem will appear).

Using my tweezers to create the distressed hem.

Step 3: The Rips 

Now for the fun part!

After you’ve decided where you want the rips to be, you need to make the rip incisions into the denim using your fabric scissors.

Cut two lines in the skirt; the top cut will be where the top of the rip will start and the bottom cut will be where the rip stops.

The incisions for the first rip.


Step 4: Distress the rips

Similar to the hem, this part is a little bit fiddly, but its the best way to get a really rugged distressed finish.

Using your tweezers, individually tease out the small threads which are vertical on the skirt. Carefully continue to loosen and extract each threads without breaking the horizontal threads.

Gently pull at the horizontally woven threads.
Gently tease at the vertical threads, leaving behind the threads running horizontally.


Once you’ve teased out enough of the strands, you’ll notice that a frayed fringe will have formed.

The first rip complete!

You can add as many or as few rips as your desired look requires.

The start of my second rip.

The finished look?

Distressed and trendy.


I hope you enjoyed this distressed denim guide and I would love to hear from you if you tried it out for yourself!

I hope you have a lovely week,

With love,

The Monica Way