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Lay your jeans out flat on a table, and use a pencil to mark the places you want to tear. Use a ruler to mark an exact length if you want. Keep in mind the ultimate shape and the length as well as the width of your holes.
Generally, most people only rip around the knees of jeans, though you can rip anywhere around the leg of the pants. Try to aim a little higher than your knee, so the tear won't get super-big as you walk around. Every time your knee bends, it might catch the hole and rip it more. Don't rip too high, or your underwear might show. Spread out the jeans on a flat surface. Just don't do it on the kitchen table, if you're using a very sharp knife.
Start fraying the jeans with sandpaper. Before you start cutting up the jeans, use the sandpaper or steel wool to start rubbing and thinning out the spot you want to rip up. This helps to loosen the fibers in the jeans and make it easier to rip. Use a variety of different tools. Alternate between using sandpaper, steel wool, and your pumice stone if you have everything. This may take a bit of time depending on the thickness of your jeans to start. If you'd rather just cut the jeans, go ahead.
You don't have to weaken them first, unless you want them to look frayed. Loosen the fibers more to create holes. If you want frayed areas and stringy patches in your jeans, use your scissors or knife to tug at the area you just weakened with the sandpaper.
This will loosen fibers in the area, allowing for a little skin to show through when worn. Pull at the white threads that stick out from the jeans to encourage this look. Add holes with the knife or scissors. Take your scissors and cut a small section inside the distressed area. Make it as small as possible. You can always make it bigger, but you risk ruining the jeans and making them unwearable if you make it too big.
Aim for a tear no bigger than a half-inch or so. Make the rip across your body, not up and down. This looks more natural. Use your hands to rip the jeans even further. Ripping it will tear the fibers, making it look like a real hole. Tug at the threads to pull them out a bit, as they would with natural rips. Avoid cutting the hole too much, as this will give a very clean, unnatural edge to the fabric.
Alternatively, you can also just cut a small hole and let it grow as you wear the jeans. It'll look more natural this way. Reinforce your jeans, if you wish. To keep the holes from getting even bigger, reinforce them by sewing around the perimeter of the hole. Use either a white or blue-colored thread to sew around the rip, either by hand or with a sewing machine. If you want the jeans to grow over time, feel free to nix this step.
If you want to learn more about sewing jeans, read this article. Put on your pants; mark with a pencil where your knees are and how long you want the cut; take them off; cut along the line you made.
Not Helpful 32 Helpful What should I do if I tried to rip my jeans, but it turned out completely wrong and looks awful? Try again on a different pair. You can also turn your messed up pants into shorts by cutting the legs to shorter. Not Helpful 62 Helpful Patch the holes or just sew them up. Otherwise, just make cutoffs out of those pants and buy a new pair to start over with.
Not Helpful 10 Helpful Try cutting the hole with scissors or an X-acto knife to make it bigger, then get a pumice stone and rub it firmly against the the unfrayed area until your hole is frayed evenly. Not Helpful 6 Helpful Rubbing the hole with a pumice stone will help the hole become more frayed. Not Helpful 13 Helpful Do I have to use a certain style of jeans, like slim fit or skinny jeans?
What type would give the best result when I am ripping them myself?
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