10 trendy ways to upcycle your jeans

10 trendy ways to upcycle your jeans

Tap into your creative side and give your favourite pair of jeans an upgrade

Let’s be honest. We all reach a point in life when we are completely bored with our jeans. While it still is our favourite piece of clothing, it has sort of fallen out of fashion. Worry not. Well, DIY or Do-It-Yourself is a fun way to customise and update your jeans.

Frayed & ripped

Distressing is denim-speak for ageing your jeans. With a few simple techniques, you can get your jeans to look grungy and vintage in no time. Start with raw denim. You can use basic tools like tweezers, sandpaper, scissors, and cheese grater. Best distressing techniques often echo real-life wear.

  • Tweezers: Cut parallel slices on your denim in places that wear out often, like the knees. Use tweezers to remove the blue threads, and leave the white threads on. Multiple washes over time will give the edges a naturally frayed look.
  • Sandpaper: Use coarse sandpaper to rub the surface of the jeans, to soften the top layer of threads. 
  • Scissors: Use scissors to cut the hem and distress the edges through a wash.
  • Cheese grater: Cut the denim in a small section and rub the surface using a grater to give texture to the cuts.


For those adept with the needle and thread, adding embroidery to your jeans is a great way to get a customised look. Use simple running stitch or chain stitch to embroider texts or patterns using contrast threads.

Another great addition could be a faux-saddle stitch. It’s a simple running stitch done with extra thick thread. You can add it to the edges of pockets, hems and side seams.


Patchwork at wear and tear areas such as knees can help strengthen the jeans. You require different shades of denim scraps, needle and thread.

Place your jeans on a flat surface and mark the areas you want to reinforce. Stitch denim scraps in place using running or darning stitch. Tease the edges for a natural frayed look. For women’s jeans, a patchwork of lace can give a boho-chic look.


Whether you want the grungy military look or preppy sporty one, badges are an easy way to individualise your outfit.

Doodle art

As one of the biggest trends to hit the runway this season, the doodle trend is as much fun to make as it is to wear. All you need are acrylic paints, a few brushes, and your jeans.

Place your denim on a flat surface and mark the areas you want to doodle. Use brushes of different thickness and textures to play around. Once finished, use a dryer or leave the jeans out in the sun to dry.

Splatter paint

If you are more of a free spirit who likes quick brush strokes, hang your jeans on two hooks and splatter drops of paint across.

Stencil printing

Remember your kindergarten craft classes when you first learnt to stencil? This is actually a fun way to add pattern to your denim. Place the outer stencil on the denim and use a paintbrush to get the design onto your jeans.

Discharge effect

Bleach from you laundry cupboard is a magic tool. Transfer a small quantity of bleach to a container and remember to wear gloves.

  • Ombré effect: This gives a gradation effect to your jeans, from denim blue to bleached white. Dip the legs of your jeans hem first into the container, few inches deep. Hold it in position for few minutes, remove, wash and dry.
  • Paintbrush: Doodle directly on the jeans using a brush dipped in bleach. It works by discharging the indigo colour from the denim and creating interesting designs and patterns. You can also splatter bleach using the brush, Jackson Pollock style. This creates an 80’s acid wash look.

Twill tapes, studs & beads

Individualise your jeans by stitching patterned twill tapes and beads for a high fashion makeover. Get a punk rock vibe by embellishing distressed denim with studs and pins.

With so many great techniques and amazing trends to inspire, don’t ever settle for plain boring jeans again. 

(The author is a designer, Spykar Jeans)