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How to Distress Faux Leather

Updated April 17, 2017

Spotting brand new faux leather goods is easy. They're shiny and clean, without any of the signs of wear and tear that a well-loved piece has. While beating up your clothes can seem counterintuitive, there are few better choices when you want to get a new piece looking like an old one. Whether you just like the look of distressed leather or you're trying to improve on a costume, distressing your faux leather is an easy process.

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  1. Scrub areas prone to wear with various grades of sandpaper or steel wool. Scuff the toes on a pair of boots, the elbows and shoulders of a jacket, and the knees on faux leather trousers. Look for points of wear on any faux leather goods you wear regularly and use sandpaper on the same parts.

  2. Bend, fold and scrunch up the faux leather item to speed up the natural wear process.

  3. Drag the faux leather item against any interesting rough surfaces, such as tree bark, the tops of fences, or gravel driveways. You can get the item muddy, too, if you like that look. Work the mud and dirt into the surface as best you can for a more outdoorsy look.

  4. Leave the item out in the sun for a while to fade the colour. Some faux leather may not fade as well as real leather, so the amount of time you leave it out will vary.

  5. Wear the faux leather item around the house regularly to get more natural wear. Feel free to lounge around and even sleep in it, work out, play with the kids, do chores, or any other rough activities that will accelerate the wearing process. This method will take longer, but can have more natural-looking results.

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Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Steel wool

About the Author

Chelsea Anderson is a professional writer who has attended university at the Delaware College of Art and Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has self-published a comic and a 'zine, both of which are included in the Joan Flasch Artist's Book Collection.

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