[The DIY Files] stressed and distressed.

Like many of the 20-something American women out there, I have a disease called ‘I Can Make That’-tis. Even though my skill sets may be nowhere in the same ballpark as what’s needed to make something I can more-easily buy… I would much rather make it. It REALLY becomes a problem when I see a high-end item, or a runway trend, and the wheels begin turning in my head. That’s where The DIY Files come to the rescue.

Hot Glue crisis… AVERTED!


I know, I know, this was supposed to be ‘revealed’ … 2 weeks ago? Well, someone went to town on the original denim shirt and tore it into shreds. Since it was no longer usable as a ‘jacket’ its remnants have been relegated to the ‘scrap’ pile for painting. That led to another visit to Target/Ross/Target again, where I managed to find a second denim shirt to rip up.

(this is why I can’t have nice things.)

The whole theme of ‘distressed’ is to mix the random and destroyed with just enough restraint to maintain a punk-but-publicly-permitted vibe. I would say there are no rules for this DIY, but a few guidelines help keep you from veering into ‘underground vermin’ territory.

On to the DIY!

Materials I suggest you use for this project:

  • A denim jacket or button-down shirt. I recommend the latter because layering will be far less complicated if you’re working with a less bulky item. Also, if you’re planning to use studs and spikes, they’re much less difficult to punch through the button-down fabric.
  • Scissors
  • Sandpaper. You can get a pack of 5-10 sheets with varying grits (roughness) for less than $5 at Michaels or WalMart.
  • An X-acto knife or blade to cut slits into the fabric.
  • A plastic lid or thick flat surface to place inside the shirt.
  • Tweezers or something to pick threads apart.

tools of the trade.

  • Straight-pins or t-pins to secure fabric while working.
  • Patches* and buttons and spikes and studs for the finishing touches. Patches can be iron-on, but I still recommend needle and thread to secure them on.

from years ago.

Moving on to the how-to:


no one can hear you scream, shirt.

1. Taking the shirt, lay it out on a flat surface and visually mark where you’ll be placing the distressed areas. Try it on to see if the rips and shreds have the impact you’re looking for.

2. Start off with wearing down the elbows — which would occur naturally over time, making the ‘worn’ look far more within the realm of reality.

collage cuts

for the sleeve.

3. While trying on the shirt, mark (crease) the approximate location of the elbow, then cut a single slit with the scissors.

4. Alternating between the thicker and thinner grits, take the sandpaper and began rubbing it on the fabric, perpendicular to the grain. I.E. the denim strands run vertically, so rub the paper horizontally.

5. Next, move onto the torso portion of the shirt; attack the shoulders’ front and back sides, first with the X-acto blade, then with the sandpaper.


using the tip of the blade to pick at threads.




more fraying.


rubbing the blade perpendicular to the cuts.

6. The front of the shirt still looked too ‘new,’ so I did some light sanding along the front button-panel of the shirt.

collage front shirt

wax on, wax off.

7. Finally, some accented touches of distressing were added to the bottom hem of the shirt and the collar tip.

8. For the bottom hem, place the plastic surface between the front and back panels of the shirt.

9. Cut a few slits with the blade along the bottom of the front panel.

collage front bottom

10. Alternate between the larger and smaller grain sandpaper to rub the slits to pull threads out and cause it to appear frayed.

collage front bottom 2

11. Repeat along the collar, but don’t do both collars — symmetry is not the aim here!



12. For the patches and pins, place them on the shirt and play with composition first before attaching them permanently.





13. Using the straight pins, attach the patches to the back of the shirt.

14. Threading the needle with some dark navy thread, stitch the patches onto the shirt. They don’t need to be precise and machine-like; in fact, the bit of distortion in stitches will make the shirt more personalized.

15.  Once the patches are stitched on, add on the buttons and pins.



16. For the final touch, place the studs and/or spikes in an unexpected place. Here, the spikes are used along the side of the wrist cuffs, cutting off the buttons first.


off come the buttons…


…on go the spikes!


careful, don’t stab yourself.

See, so easy you can ‘eff it up! Don’t pull a Monica and attempt to sand while watching a Big Bang Theory marathon because a little sandpaper goes a lonnnng way. Also, you’ll have to start over, ha.




Dear Fall, please hurry so I can wear this shirt-jacket, mmmkay?

— Nita


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s