How to Distress Cotton Fabric

Written by jennifer moore
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How to Distress Cotton Fabric
Distress cotton fabric to make it look worn. (cotton image by arklite06 from Fotolia.com)

Distressed cotton garments are fashionable and there are garments that look better when they appear worn, such as T-shirts and jeans. However, there are other reasons why you would distress cotton fabrics. For instance, if you want unusual-looking pillows, curtains or bedding, you may want to distress them. You may also want to distress Halloween or theatre costumes. Distressing cotton fabrics is a simple process and only requires some washing, nicking and roughening.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Detergent
  • Bleach
  • 1 small board
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Razor blade
  • Wire brush

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Wash the fabric with detergent and 1/2 cup of bleach. This will slightly fade the cotton fabric but not discolour it completely.

  2. 2

    Hang the cotton fabric garment outside and let it weather for a week or so in the sun, rain and wind.

  3. 3

    Glue a piece of 80-grit sandpaper to a small piece of board. The board does not have to be any particular size.

  4. 4

    Stretch the fabric tightly and drag it across the board. Do this a few times and use different directions when pulling the fabric across the sandpaper. If you don't want a great deal of distressing, whisk the fabric across the board quickly and don't exert heavy pressure against the board.

  5. 5

    Create nicks in the fabric by using a scissors or razor blade and place them on areas of the fabric that would naturally wear out sooner, like elbows, hems, knees, creases, necks and cuffs.

  6. 6

    Take a wire brush and run it across the fabric a couple of times to create snags.

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