How to Make Ripped Jeans With a Knife & Scissors

Updated July 19, 2017

Rock 'n Roll stars of the 1960s; a half million people at Woodstock 1969; college students of the l960s and beyond; the grunge trendsetters of the l990s; and the designers, fashionistas and celebrities of the 21st century all share a common bond: ripped jeans. Whether a strategically placed hole across a thigh and knee or an all-out treatment with dozens of rips, ripped jeans make a strong fashion statement. Creating a look right out of a fashion magazine requires only some well-planned cuts.

Look through fashion magazines for photos of celebrities and models in ripped jeans to find the look you want to duplicate. Or search online. Take a close look at the amount of fraying around each cut. Decide whether you are looking at slits or holes.

Try on jeans and imagine them ripped. A pair from a thrift shop could be a better option than ones from your closet.

Sit, stand and move in the jeans you have picked. Then, as you wear the jeans, have a friend mark horizontal rips for you using white chalk. (Offer to return the favour.)

Take off the jeans. For a more worn look, sand each area you are going to cut with rough sandpaper. You may need to go over the area again with white chalk. Place a 2-by-4 wood block behind the denim so you don't cut through to the other side of the leg and then make your cut with scissors or a knife. Complete all your cuts. For larger holes, make 1/8-inch diagonally cuts at the ends of your horizontal cuts. Use the end of your scissors or knife to start fraying each cut.

Throw the jeans into your washer. Add some bleach if you want a more distressed look. Or splash some bleach on them for another look. Then, dry the jeans.

Pull the jeans out of the dryer and see what you have accomplished. Leave all the frayed pieces alone. The more often you wash and wear the jeans, the more prominent the rips will become.


Pure cotton jeans will fray more than those made of a cotton/lycra blend. Shop at thrift stores for jeans. It's a good way to save money and go "green" by recycling your way into fashion. Seam rippers are another good tool to use when fashioning ripped jeans. You can find them at any fabric store.


Each rip will increase in size as you wear your jeans. You don't want to get too carried away if you want a more subtle ripped look.

Things You'll Need

  • Fashion magazines
  • Jeans
  • Scissors
  • Sharp knife
  • Rough sandpaper (optional)
  • White chalk
  • Wood block, 2 inches by 4 inches
  • Washing powder
  • Bleach (optional)
  • Washer and dryer
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About the Author

Linda Marie was first published in 1969 while a feature news writer for the "Selfridge Flyer". She has held positions in broadcast copywriting, trade magazine publications, retail advertising and medical marketing. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oakland University, Rochester, Mich.