If you purchase one of the products recommended in this article, I might receive a small affiliate commission. Thank you for your support!
Usually fraying is the last thing you ever want to happen to your clothes but it’s super stylish at the bottom of your jeans. Fraying describes how the threads of fabric can unravel and separate which is a nightmare on your favorite dress but a really easy and simple project you can do yourself to any pair of jeans. Also referred to as a raw hem or undone hem, frayed hem jeans add great texture to your good ol’ jeans and, as there are virtually no limits to how to fray the bottom of jeans, you can bring your own unique touch.
This is a great DIY that doesn’t require any sewing skills or very special tools either (some of them can be found in your kitchen or garage). You can keep your fraying simple as a plain raw edge, you can create a fringe effect, or you can cut curved or angular lines into your hems for a completely new look and feel. Read on to discover how to fray jeans.
Fraying Tips & Tricks
Before you begin to fray your jeans, it will be useful to understand how denim is woven to make the fraying process easier. Unlike most cotton fabrics, denim isn’t woven with threads going over and under one another in a one-to-one ratio. Instead, a single widthwise (warp) thread is passed over and under two lengthwise (weft) threads.
The outer color of your jeans will often be the result of the warp thread being dyed, the most common color is blue and the weft thread is often left undyed in white which gives the inside of your jeans the lighter or faded appearance. When fraying your jeans, you’re going to be pulling on the warp or dyed threads to create the raw look.
Of course, some jeans are the same shade on the inside and out but just look for the threads that run widthwise.
When you’re done fraying your jeans with any of the methods listed below, throw them into the washing machine to really set the fray in place.
How to fray jeans with scissors
All you need to fray jeans with this method is a pair of scissors (the sharper the better), a ruler or measuring tape, and something with which to make marks on your jeans (a fabric marker, chalk, or pins will do).
Step 1: Put your jeans on and mark a line at the hem you would like your fraying to extend to. You will want to make this marking at least half an inch above the original hem of your jeans but you can make this mark as high as you would like.
Step 2: Place your jeans on a flat surface and use a ruler to mark an even line from side to side of your jean legs. Cut this away. Alternatively, you can just cut off the very bottom of your hem and fray the fabric below the stitching.
Step 3: With your scissors held wide open like a knife, place your cut hem between the scissor blade and your hand and very slowly and carefully run the hem against the blade. You’ll want to have the blade going against the direction of the weft/lighter threads. Do this all along the hem.
You can also use a razor blade instead of scissors, just remember to be very careful and not cut yourself.
Step 4: Now that you have loosened threads from the cut line, you can either leave them this way or pull on the threads to your heart’s content. There you have it, in a matter of minutes you’ve learned how to fray the bottom of jeans.
How to fray jeans with sandpaper
For a fluffier texture to your fraying, you’re going to have to take a quick trip to the tool shed. How to fray the bottom of jeans with this method will require scissors, a ruler or measuring tape, something with which to mark your fabric and sandpaper!
Step 1: With your jeans on, mark where you would like to cut off the hem. Remember that fraying will make this line higher so mark a little lower than what you would like the final hem to be.
Step 2: Lay your jeans on a flat surface and use a measuring tape or rule to create a straight and even cutting line. Of course, you are welcome to make a curved, angular, or even zig-zag line if you’d prefer. Cut away the part that you’ve marked.
Step 3: You can use your scissors your fingers to pull out some of the loose threads and then go in with sandpaper all along the edges to distress the fabric. It’s best to brush the jeans softly and slowly at first so you can build up how frayed the final look will be.
Now you can enjoy your new frayed jeans!
How to fray jeans with a grater
The next time you’re making coleslaw, you could also be upcycling your jeans! Yes, you can very easily create a stunning raw hem with your cheese grater. All you’ll need otherwise is a pair of scissors, a ruler or measuring tape, and something with which to mark your jeans (pens, pencils, fabric markers, chalk or pins are all suitable).
Step 1: While wearing your jeans, use your preferred marking tool to demarcate the point that you’d like to cut off of your jeans.
Step 2: Lay your jeans out on a flat surface and use a ruler to create a straight line according to your marking. This doesn’t have to be super straight as a skew or curve edge can really add to the distressed, DIY look. Cut away the fabric you no longer need.
Step 3: Very slowly, and minding not to rub off the skin of your fingers, rub your jeans against your grater. You’ll find the most success against the side with the smallest points. This will release several of the weft threads all at once. You can leave your jeans this way or use your fingers to further pull on more threads.
How to fray jeans with tweezers
For a very controlled way to fray your jeans, using tweezers will really get at all the tiny little threads. Tweezers are especially great if you’re fraying is long lengthwise or if you’re working on a curved or shaped line instead of a straight edge. To fray, your jeans, all you will need are scissors, a ruler or measuring tape, tweezers, and something with which to mark your jeans.
Step 1: Wear your jeans and use your chosen marking tool to mark out where you are going to cut your hem.
Step 2: On a flat surface, you can use a ruler/measuring tape to create a straight line or you can eyeball it. Cut the section off. If you would like to create a fringe effect, you can cut several slashes up to your marked line instead of cutting the hem off.
Step 3: Using your tweezers, pull on any hanging threads to fray the jeans. You can continue to go in by using the tweezers to pick out any of the warp threads. It’s best to pull one to two threads at a time but you can experiment with more or less for whatever suits you.
How to fray jeans with a seam ripper
This method works best if you like the appearance of hanging white/weft threads as a contrast to your jeans. Besides a pair of scissors, a ruler or measuring tape, and a tool with which to mark on your jeans (pins or pens are both great), you need a seam ripper or unpicker tool.
Step 1: This method works best below a line of stitches so you don’t have to mark anything if you’re happy with the length of your jeans. If you would like them to be shorter then put your jeans on and mark the point you would like to cut.
Step 2: Once your jeans are on a flat surface, use your marking tool and a ruler to create a straight line. Or just cut the fabric at the fold of the hem below the stitches. If you’re cutting the stitched hem off then you will need to sew another line above your new hem.
Step 3: Take the seam ripper and use the longer point to pull at all of the outside/warp threads. This will leave only the inside/weft threads to hang in a fringe. And just like that, you’re ready to go.
Read: How to Hem Jeans by Hand
Whichever method tickles your fancy, remember to put your jeans into the next washing load as machine washing brings out the fluffiness of the threads. If you don’t want your fraying to extend further you can opt to purchase Fray Check to keep them in place but this isn’t super necessary. The only real rule is to be as creative and fancy-free as you want.