Give you old jeans a fresh, new update with some customized hand-fraying. Fraying adds a cool, lived-in vibe that makes even the newest denim look enviably vintage. It’s surprisingly easy to do, and a lot fun. Plus, once you’ve mastered this technique, you can apply it to any piece of denim you have hanging in your closet.


Tools Needed

To get started, you will need a pair of fabric scissors, a sandpaper block and a washer and dryer. If you are fraying the hem of jeans, jean shorts or a jean skirt, you will also need a straight-edge ruler and tailor’s chalk. For fraying jean jackets or denim accessories, you will need a box cutter and card-stock to create the desired fray.

Denim Pants, Shorts and Skirts

To fray a hem, put your denim on and use tailor’s chalk to mark the desired length. Take your denim off and use the straight-edge ruler to draw a line across the hem. Measure the length from the original hem to the desired hem and replicate the measurement on the opposite pant leg. Then, cut the denim along each line. Fray the raw edges by hand, pulling gently at the fibers to unravel using an opened safety pin. Use a sandpaper block along the edges of the newly frayed hem and along the seams and waistline of the jeans for a further distressed look. Put your denim garment in the washer and dryer for the fullest fraying effect.

Denim Jackets and Accessories

Create fray by using a box cutter to create horizontal lines across the front of your denim jackets and accessories. Slip a folded piece of card-stock between the layers of denim to prevent unintentional cuts on the backside of the garment or accessory. Create roughly five to 12 multi-length, horizontal cuts about 1/4 inch apart in each desired section and then wash your jacket or accessory to achieve fray. Keep the look authentic by creating fray in high-traffic areas such as jacket pockets, lapel and edges.