How to Distress a T-Shirt

Are you tired of all the tidy, clean-cut clothes filling your closet?

Perhaps you're looking for an edgy, more daring look. If so, you might join the masses in wearing distressed clothes. We love distressing at A-List!

A classic yet ever-present fashion trend, the distressed look costs hundreds of dollars when purchased pre-made. For instance, a pair of distressed jeans can cost 500 dollars or more, especially if they're made famous by one of today's hottest social influencers.

blonde woman with hair pulled back looking down wearing a gray distressed t-shirt with a lion on it and jeans

At the same time, you can buy a basic, versatile top for less than half the price and distress it yourself. Read on for some tips on how to make your own distressed t-shirt with only a few everyday household items.

Rough Up Your Fabric

Once you've chosen the right new top for your project, it's time to make it truly your own.

Lay out your t-shirt on a flat surface. Then, use a pumice stone or some sandpaper to fray and gently rip up the fabric.

Start by rubbing the sandpaper over the edges of the shirt where you want it to be distressed. Be sure not to rub too vigorously; you don't want to make a hole through the other side of your tee as well.

Gradually move toward the center of your t-shirt with your sandpaper. You can also use tweezers to gently make some intensional small holes to complement the general fraying.

Muck Up the Look

Now, to add an even grungier look to your DIY tee, take some chalk and create muddy patches. This works best on a white t-shirt; the contrast is aesthetically brilliant.

Use the flat part of your chalk to make your patches. Then, you can even use your fingers to spread the chalk around a bit.

Make your patches intentionally random. You can use a ruler to measure your holes and frayed patches, but a randomly distressed look is more natural.

Make the Right Cuts

Now, it's time to take a pair of scissors to your shirt.

Before you create a new neckline and fringes, though, use a pen to mark an outline of where you want to cut. This is where precision matters. A roughly cut V-neck will look sloppy rather than tastefully tattered, and also your shirt may wear out more quickly. Use a book or a ruler to mark and cut in straight lines.

Add a Finishing Touch

Now that your work is done, you want to preserve it. In order to wear your distressed t-shirt as long as possible, you need to protect the frayed edges.

If you skip this step, you'll find unwanted threads unraveling from the edges of your shirt the first time you wash it.  You don't want to look like a hot mess.

Protecting your threads is simple. Just use some Fray Check or a similar product around the edge of your shirt. Apply the fray check evenly and gently. You can use a small makeup brush to do this instead of using the nozzle of your liquid sealant bottle.

Once you're done, lift away any excess sealant, and let your shirt dry.

Enjoy Your Distressed T-Shirt

woman with her blonde hair pulled back wearing a white distressed t-shirt with a lion and the word "fierce" on it from the A-List Boutique in Nebraska

Are you ready to wow your circle of friends with an edgy new look?

Make your way to our boutique and shop for the perfect shirt. If you're in Nebraska, come on in and shop in person. If you'd rather shop online, browse through our new arrivals section for a quality, trendy new top, and then get to work. Your DIY distressed T-shirt is bound to become a signature staple of your wardrobe.

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