A quick and enjoyable DIY project is learning how to fray jeans if you want to give your denim collection a new look.
Perhaps you always find the legs of jeans to be too long, or you prefer a pair of trendy jeans with more holes than denim. Either way, you can easily achieve that casual, mod look of frayed jeans at home with just a few simple tools!
So how to fray jeans? Popular ways to fray jeans at home include using scissors and ripping holes in the denim or using scissors and placing the jeans in the washing machine for a softly frayed look.
Learn how to fray jeans to get frayed edges along the hem.
How to Fray Jeans?
Beginners can follow these easy instructions to make a pair of ripped jeans with a frayed look:
- Choose your pants. All types of denim jeans, including skinny jeans and wide-leg pants as well as your favorite pair of jeans, can be frayed. Fraying newer jeans creates a worn-in look, or you can distress a pair of well-worn jeans.
- Work on a flat surface. Placing the jeans on a flat surface and marking with chalk the desired cutting location along the bottom of the legs will cause the jeans to fray. To mark where you will trim, measure the length you want and mark the area with a dotted line in chalk.
- The leg bottoms of pants should be severed. Crop jeans by cutting along the dotted chalk lines with a pair of fabric scissors in a straight line, depending on how much you want to remove from the bottom of the jeans. Ankle jeans can be created from a pair of bootcut jeans.
- Loosen the threads along the cut. Pull on the bottoms after you’ve cut them to undo the hems and reveal the white threads. This will give your jeans a raw, uneven, and natural look.
- Make additional cuts. For clearer fraying, add some quarter-inch diagonal cuts along the bottom of your jeans. This will allow the threads to become more undone with each wear for a rougher appearance.
- Refine with a tweezer. After you’ve cut your jeans, unravel threads with a pair of tweezers. Pull at the exposed threads along the pant legs to make a raw hemline and create a more fashionable, edgier jeans look. Snip away at excess hanging threads.
- Fully distress your jeans. To further distress your jeans, make additional cuts on the pant legs. Use a cheese grater or shaver to carefully grate the belt loops, thighs, and knees—all areas where a pair of jeans would naturally relax over time. Use a pair of scissors to cut at the tighter areas of the jeans that hug your legs for a more thorough undoing. Next, add more distress to these areas by rubbing sandpaper over them. To preserve the pants, avoid cutting along the inseam.
- Wash before wearing. Put your jeans and other denim clothing in the washer. Some of the extra hanging threads will be removed during washing, and the frayed edges will be fluffed up. Wash with regular detergent (avoid using bleach unless you want a particularly colored pair of jeans), then air dry or tumble dry your clothes.
Other Methods to Fray Jeans
Additional ways to fray jeans are provided below.
With a Cheese Grater
Unbelievably, jeans can fray quickly and easily with a simple cheese grater retrieved from your kitchen drawer!
One of the most well-liked DIY techniques for distressing or fraying jeans is using a cheese grater because it works so quickly. It’s a good idea to practice this on a pair of disposable jeans first because it’s very simple to overdo the grating motion and produce larger holes than you intended!
- Always start by marking the areas you want to fray. The front of the thigh, the back pockets, the knee, or the middle of the shin are common locations for distressed/frayed patches or holes. On these areas, apply chalk or washable fabric ink.
- After that, tuck a shield behind the area you marked in the jeans. To do this, you can use a cardboard piece or a folded magazine.
- Borrow your cheese grater from the kitchen and rub it up and down vertically over the spot you marked.
- Every few up-and-down motions, pause to assess the degree of fraying. Some of the weave’s top threads should start to separate quite quickly.
- Stop before you completely rip through the denim if you want the effect of rubbed denim.
- You will need to grate quite a bit of the denim away if you want a hole with horizontal threads stretched across it.
- You can finish the hole in a few different ways once you’ve grated to the desired level. You can carefully cut the remaining vertical threads with tweezers or your fingers, leaving horizontal threads that are stretched across the hole. Or you can use sandpaper on the edges of the hole to make a fuzzy frayed white edge.
With a Razor
A disposable razor can also easily abrade the fibers in your denim jeans to create a frayed appearance. Compared to using a cheese grater or sandpaper, this method requires a little bit more time and patience, but it also provides greater control and accuracy.
- Choosing a fraying location is always necessary before you start. If you want to achieve an authentically frayed, faded look in tiny spots, like the zipper or the tops of pockets, this technique works well.
- Behind the area you want to fray, you should also place protective padding. You can use anything that will fit inside your jeans, such as a crumpled cereal box or a folded newspaper.
- Use a cheap, disposable shaving razor to scrape the fabric’s surface. Start by lightly scraping the denim to gauge how much of an impact the razorblade has on it. Continually move in this manner until you achieve the desired frayed appearance.
- You need to lightly scrape the area where the hole should be, then press down more forcefully as you get closer to the center to create a frayed hole. Alternately, use small, delicate scraping motions in the hole’s center until the denim is completely removed.
As a pro tip, lightly sanding the denim’s surface with razor blades or sandpaper will also make the material softer and more supple.
Your jeans can have a deliberately styled frayed appearance if you use tweezers to remove threads from the cut edge. This technique can be used to create precise fraying at the hem of your jeans or to make frayed holes anywhere else on the garment.
Popular styles today occasionally have frayed slices that extend all the way up the legs of the pants, from the ankle to the front pockets!
- After deciding on the area to work on, carefully cut through the denim with a pair of sharp scissors. If you want a small frayed hole, make a tiny snip; if you want multiple frayed slices up the leg, make a clean horizontal slice. But watch out not to cut through the side seam of the jeans!
- To remove any threads that are hanging off the edge of the slice or snipped sections, use your tweezers. This will create a soft, white edge around the hole or slice.
- To make a bigger frayed hole with artful horizontal threads remaining, carefully pull out just the vertical threads from a section of the jeans using your tweezers. A pair of tiny embroidery scissors may be useful to have on hand in case you need to snip the vertical threads loose while working.
- Instead of concentrating only on the vertical threads, pull out threads from all over the patch if you want a frayed patch with threads sticking out everywhere in a soft fuzzy mat.
You can achieve the desired look with a few pieces of sandpaper, whether you want a light distressed white spot on your jeans or a full-fledged hole frayed through the denim! Use fine-grit sandpaper for minimal distressing.
Use sandpaper with a coarser grit for larger holes, or purchase a sanding block from a nearby hardware store for an easy-to-grip sanding technique.
- The areas of the jeans you want to fray must be chosen before you start sanding. The top of the pockets, the knees, and the front of the thighs are common locations for this.
- As a safety measure, insert some cardboard or cardstock behind the fraying area in the jeans leg. As you work, this will prevent any harm to the back of the leg.
- You should quickly move the sandpaper up and down over the areas you chose. Keep an eye on how quickly the threads are disappearing as you work because sandpaper works on fabric very quickly.
- If you want a natural-looking distressed look, sand just a tiny bit until you see white peeking through the blue of the denim. If you leave this light distressing, the denim will fade and fray naturally over time as you wear and wash the jeans.
- If you want actual holes in the denim, keep sanding until you can see the main vertical and horizontal threads. If you want to make a bigger hole, you can sand straight through or cut some of the vertical threads and pull them out.
How to Fray the Bottom of Jeans?
To fray the bottom of your jeans with sandpaper, you can follow these steps:
- Decide on the length of the frayed hem first, then mark it with a pencil or piece of chalk.
- Cut the jeans’ hem at the indicated line using precise scissors.
- Put on the jeans and use a pen or marker to make horizontal lines around the bottom of the jeans, spaced about 1/4 inch apart. These lines will serve as markers for where to sand.
- Sand the bottom of the jeans along the drawn lines using medium-grit sandpaper. Long, even strokes with even pressure should be used on the denim. As some of the fibers are removed by the sandpaper, a frayed appearance is produced.
- Further distress the denim’s edges by using sandpaper with a finer grit. Apply more pressure and short, quick strokes to produce more fraying.
- Once the jeans have the desired amount of fraying and distressing, wash them to get rid of any extra fibers and threads.
Final Words: Fray Jeans
You can fray jeans yourself using just a pair of scissors and your hands, or you can spend hours carefully plucking out threads and teasing them one at a time with a pair of tweezers.
You can use a cheese grater or sandpaper to rough up the denim on your jeans, or you can use a nail file to gently abrade the material. Even a sewing machine and a seam ripper can be used to make a perfectly frayed hem for the bottom of your jeans!
How to Wear Frayed Jeans?
T-shirts look great with frayed denim shorts or pants for a more relaxed appearance. For an all-denim look, you could also wear your jeans with a frayed denim jacket. Wear a tee with a pair of straight-leg or slim jeans, or tuck a shirt into your frayed hem jeans to draw attention to the waistline.
Does Denim Fray If You Cut It?
Keep in mind that unless you hem them, your jeans will fray somewhat after you cut them. If you plan to let them fray, you’ll actually need to cut about 1⁄2 in (1.3 cm) below the mark, so you may want to take that into account when you’re deciding on the length.
Can You Fray Jeans With Stretch?
For the best outcomes, you must pay close attention to the type of denim used in your jeans. Traditional blue and white denim permits a recognizable frayed edge. In contrast, stretch denim does not respond as well because the elastic fibers in the threads will curl up and create bulging edges in the fray.