Making Clothes Look Tattered and Torn

Ragged, ripped clothing can be a critical component of a convincing costume for holiday celebrations or theater productions. You can make tattered and torn clothes easily at home to complete the look of a shipwrecked sailor or zombie. With basic tools, you can transform inexpensive secondhand clothing into an accurate costume. To further distress the appearance of the clothing, apply brown and black fabric paint with a sponge directly to the clothes to emulate the look of dirt.

Jeans can be fashionably distressed for everyday wear.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard

  • Scissors

  • Utility Knife

  • Pumice Stone

  • Clothing

Step 1

Slip a piece of cardboard into the clothing to protect its opposite side from inadvertent rips or tears. Using a utility blade, make asymmetrical cuts in the body of the fabric, according to personal preference. Flip over the fabric and continue slicing with the utility knife until fully distressed.

Step 2

Cut small notches out of the bottom hem of the clothing item with scissors. Use your hands to gently rip the notches, forming a ragged appearance. Ripping some notches further than others will allow the garment to appear naturally tattered.

Step 3

Grasp a pumice stone firmly and vigorously scrub the garment with it. Pay particular attention to rubbing the notches and tears cut in the fabric, forcing the edges of the fabric to fray at the cuts. Use the stone to thin the fibers in certain areas of your choosing.