do+brew Denim Tutorials

Written by Aly Reinert, Edited by Aurora Hinz

As we all know, people are willing to pay a pretty penny for jeans that look like they’ve been through World War II. Technically speaking, stylistic tears, chewed up or fringed hems, and creative patchwork is a must these days in the world of denim. At our do + brew event, I taught all three of these techniques! So in case you missed it, I will be sharing them over a three-part series.

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Tutorial 1:

Distressing. There is definitely an artful way to do this, and it’s all about staying on the grain of the fabric when you make your cuts. Some people will cut up their pants and wonder why it doesn’t look like how the stores do it, so here I will show you exactly how to make it look like you bought them that way. There are a number of ways to complete this depending on what your goal is for the end look, but I will go through the basics of pulling out the unwanted indigo threads and from there you can keep as much of the white threads as you choose.

What you will need

  • Your Jeans or Jacket
  • Safety Pin
  • Ruler
  • Chalk
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Seam Ripper (or just use a safety pin)





Put a safety pin horizontally across your jeans where you want the top of the distressing to start. Make sure the pin only goes through one layer of the denim.



Flip the leg of your jeans inside out so you are looking at the back side of the safety pin you secured. Here you can clearly see the horizontal white threads. Mark a straight horizontal line across where the safety pin was (as long as you want it) following the grain of the white threads. Make sure little to no white threads are cut.


Flip jeans back to the outside. Now you have your first horizontal cut that is on grain with the fabric. Mark your other horizontal lines (about 1/2” apart) using the chalk and ruler. Make sure they are parallel to the first cut you made. Not every line needs to be as long as the next. Making them variable lengths gives you a more organic looking distressed shape.


Pull the white threads out of either side of each strip of fabric until the indigo threads fall off. Some strips can be left with indigo threads hanging on for aesthetic if you want. Otherwise, do this until all indigo threads are pulled out of the distressed area. Cut away any white threads to achieve your look.

Depending on the look you want, here are a few options for results.

Some indigo threads are still left here to give a more variable look.

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Here, all the indigo threads are pulled out leaving only white horizontal threads.

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You can also cut the threads down the middle to use them as more of a border for a larger hole.