How to Shred Jeans With a Knife

by Shelley Moench-Kelly

It can take years of wearing -- and washing -- a pair jeans until they develop thin patches that eventually shred, creating tattered holes that become a badge of ownership. Fashion fans are seen in pre-shredded designer jeans that cost hundreds of dollars for that worn look. But with a little patience and inexpensive tools, you can transform new jeans into a pair of edgy, torn jeans that'll have you looking like a hipster in no time.

Put on the pair of jeans you want to shred and stand in front of a full-length mirror. Outline the locations you want to shred with chalk. The final shred holes can be rectangular, square or even diagonal. The choice is up to you.

Remove the jeans and place them on a flat surface. Slip an old magazine into the pants so it protects the back of your pants from any front cutting and vice-versa.

Smooth out the area to be cut so it's flat,, and weigh down the loose part of the pants with heavy books so they don't shift as you're working. With the magazine in place under each chalk outline, use an X-Acto knife to cut three or four horizontal lines all the way through the denim.

Use an emery board to fray the denim within the chalk outlines. As the denim is shredded, use tweezers to pull away stray threads. Aim to create a rectangular hole with loose threads on the sides of each hole, as that's the way the hole would wear through given time.

Items you will need

  • Old magazine
  • Heavy books
  • Chalk
  • X-Acto knife
  • Emery board
  • Tweezers


  • Make fewer cuts rather than too many. Shred a little at a time so you're not exposing more of yourself than you want.
  • If you don't want holes, make a single slash at several locations. As you wash and wear the jeans, the slashes will fray and open a little without revealing too much skin.
  • If you're reluctant to use a razor knife, try some small embroidery scissors or a seam ripper to make your cuts.


  • Razor knives are very sharp and can cause serious injury. Be sure to work in a well-lighted area.
  • Make sure your knife has new, sharp blades. Dull blades can cause serious cuts because it takes more pressure to cut with them, causing them potentially to slip.

About the Author

Shelley Moench-Kelly is a writer and editor whose clients range from L'Oreal and to the McGraw-Hill Companies and FIDM. She has interviewed notables such as Dr. Andrew Ordon of “The Doctors” and the legendary Vidal Sassoon. Her first book, "Egg," is slated for release in 2016.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images