DIY – Damsel and Distressed Jeans

Fashion is what you buy. Style is what you do with it.

-Nicki Hilton

I’d like to share a really fun DIY I did – making my husband and toddler super cute and stylish distressed jean shorts. I’ve received so many compliments when I’m out and about with Noah and questions about where I got them, so I wanted to show everyone how I created the shorts for him and teach you how I made a pair for my husband, so you can have your own pair as well!

Most of us have heard of the dreaded “mom jean” – a high rise, ugly wash jean pant that goes up super high, make our bums look two feet long and can also display a lovely camel toe if placed properly. A nicer version of these high waisted pants are actually in style right now, and confession – I  love them dearly (my days of the 2002 hip hugging. buttcrack displaying, no stretch jeans are thankfully over).

You know you’re a stay at home mom when your kids ask where you’re going when you put on jeans.

But what about a dad jean? These are also a hidden fashion faux pas, perhaps hiding quietly in the back of your man’s closet. I mean, if your father didn’t wear these carpenter style relaxed jean shorts with high white socks and ugly running shoes in the 90’s, did you even have a dad?

When you spot these Jorts you best believe his yard is in pristine condition.

Surprisingly my husband actually had a pair of these hanging around in his closet. He’s a teensy bit of a clothing/shoes hoarder and, I’m always trying to minimize our “stuff” (quality over quantity; more about my thoughts on minimalism later!). When I eventually saw this pair I begged him to toss them, as he hadn’t even worn the shorts since we’d met over 7 years ago! He then asked if I could instead make them into a pair of distressed jeans like I’d done with Noahs, since he was looking to buy a new pair anyway. The thought of saving money, being stylish and having my boys wear matching clothing inspired me to distress his shorts as well. If I failed, who cares – they were going be donated anyway!

But why did I make these for Noah in the first place? I love the quote: “Style is not a display of wealth, but an expression of imagination”, and always had such a difficult time finding cute, stylish jeans for little boys, especially distressed ones. Noah’s started as a pair of basic Osh Kosh jean shorts we had been given to us in a hand me down box from a friend when he was first born. Being my fancy-yet-frugal self I figured before I donated them I would attempt my own at home distress project,  to make them current and stylish.  I read some tutorials online and attempted some of my own little tricks, and came up with this adorable pair!

Not your average Osh Kosh style.
I think he likes his new fit.

Unique, trendy and super cute, non? So down to the nitty gritty – how I did my husbands! First of all, the stats:


Old pair of jean shorts

Sharp, serrated kitchen knife

Cutting board


Small bowl

Bleach (mine is from Dollar Tree and works well)



You probably have all these things around your house, so basically free!

Time to Complete:

20 mins (times this number by 4 for each child you have distracting you)

The pair of my husbands I used were a carpenter style jean short from Tommy Hilfiger. First thing I did was cut that stupid loop on the side – unless you are some type of tradesman or serial killer, we don’t need these hanging around to carry your dangerous tools in. Cut right from the seam as close as you can with your sharp serrated knife, and don’t worry if it frays or is uneven a bit – distressed jeans are supposed to look like that, so chill. Cut off each pant legs edges with the knife as well – the bottom of each leg hole needs to be removed to start fraying, and so there is no finished seam there.

Next, put a cutting board under the pant leg, hold the pants tightly, take that knife and think of someone who really pisses you off – start sawing into the jeans in random areas, in almost a diamond like pattern, lines, horizontally. A small slit at the top, bigger one below it about a quarter inch, then a bigger one below it again, then gradually smaller again. Once you’ve got the main cuts on them, take that knife, really get in there and saw back and forth between the lines – it will distress the material, and also help relieve your aggression towards that rude lady that cut in front of you at the grocery store (healthy coping mechanisms, people!)

You can use the picture of Noah’s shorts I posted above as kind of a pattern of where to put the slits, or look up a picture of what you like online. Again, looking messy and random is kind of key, as they’re supposed to look worn down. Watch that you don’t place them too close to the butt cheek or crotch area, unless you’re going for more of a peep-show vibe (no judgement here!).

Next, pour bleach into the bowl and put the sponge in there, soaking it. Take the sponge and press it over the places that you’ve distressed, saturating it more in the middle of the slits and less around the outsides, as to create an ombre type effect. Do this over all of the distressed areas and any seams, around the fly etc. Some people like that splattered bleach look that’s in style; I didn’t do this as I like the more classic distressed look but you can try that as well if you want. The main goal is to make the jean look lighter and worn down in the tore up area like you’ve been working hard in the pants all day, even though you’ve actually just been sitting and creepin’ on Facebook.

While they are damp from the bleach, take the tweezers and again, start jabbing and hacking the distressed areas and the bottom cut edges of each pant leg, pulling threads out and generally destroying the jeans. Anyone else like to pop pimples or other gross dermatological projects? Just me? Well, here is your time to go pick and tweezer crazy! Again, do this randomly all over the seams and fly of the pants as well. Afterwards, lay them outside in the direct sun to let the bleach really soak in, about 30 minutes or longer if you have the time. Then, and this is important – throw them in the wash with the next load of whites or lights you do. The bleach won’t hurt the other clothes you’re washing, and this step is critical because the wash will really fray all the cut up edges. Throw them in the dryer, and voila! They come out with all the cut edges frayed and beat up, distressed areas are torn, and with each wash will get a little more distressed looking.

So that’s it! A little bit of work yes, but I love not only a mom hack but also a challenge. The coolest part is that you have a piece that is 100%, without a doubt unique and yours, and that your hard work and effort created it! Kind of like your kid, but without all the whining (jokes people, jokes!). As soon as I know for SURE I’m done having babies and my weight doesn’t fluctuate back and forth 50 lbs, I will definitely be making a pair for myself as well!

Drop me a line if you’re interested in making your own pair and the end result if you do; I would love to see what you come up with! You can to this with lots of other denim as well – pants, a skirt, jean jackets, etc. Sometimes you have to create the things you wish existed; I really hope this inspires you to try to make these or any other little mom hacks/DIY projects that interest you too! Life isn’t always about finding yourself – it’s about creating yourself, and other beautiful things to fill it with. If you can’t find something that you want in life don’t be a damsel in distress… be a damsel doing damage!

2 responses to “DIY – Damsel and Distressed Jeans”

  1. ❤️💯

    Sent from my iPhone


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