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Distressed T-shirts have become more and more popular in recent years. Instead of spending money on a pre-distressed shirt, why not do it yourself! A few simple tips can help you create your own distressed T-shirts.

Pick a T-shirt you want to distress. Make sure the fabric is not too old or too thin. You want to distress the shirt, not destroy it.

Stretch the shirt across an ironing board before you begin. You need to ensure a taut stretch so that you're not working with loose fabric. This will make the distressing process less damaging.

Take a piece of sandpaper and run it up and down the shirt. If the shirt has a design on the front, parts of that design should come off during the sanding. Decide to what extent you want to sand away the design, and make sure not to sand through the fabric itself.

Take a cheese grater and run it across the neck, sleeves and bottom of the shirt. This will give it a worn look that fits very well with the distressed look. If you want to use the grater on the body of the shirt, make sure not to cut too many holes. This will compromise the integrity of the fabric.

While wearing rubber gloves, take a small cup of bleach and drip it over the front and back of the shirt. For a less drastic look, fill a spray bottle with bleach and spray it over the shirt. Spray the bleach in sections, making sure to concentrate on certain areas more than others. Afterward, let the bleach sit for a few minutes, then wash the shirt in a standard washing machine. Hang the shirt to dry, and admire your work.


When using bleach, be sure to wear appropriate eye protection — especially when spraying bleach from a spray bottle.

About the Author

Emily Bennett

Emily Bennett has been acting and publishing articles since 1999. She specializes in public speaking, accents, poetry, and theatre. Her work has been published online at Notes on the Road and The "RADA Literary Magazine." She holds a B.A. in acting from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and has coached actors and professionals throughout the U.S. and England.