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Slashing Just for Fun

In Threads issue #159, I demonstrate how to use slashing and punching to create texture in “Perforated designs” found on page 22. Here is an additional slashing technique just for fun–enjoy!

After I finished the article, I still had all the tools out, so thought I’d do a bit of extra experimenting. I had a pair of jeans that had seen better days, so thought I’d see what happened if I decided to impose a new design on them.


I decided to use the basketweave pattern I used in the article–it was the same width (roughly) as the trouser leg.

Using the existing pattern made it relatively easy–just punch through all the layers of the legs, so the design would be a mirror image on the back of the jeans.

Here’s a close-up–when doing this, be sure to pull the pockets up and out of harm’s way, or you’ll lose all of your loose change later!

To get the design up further than the thigh level–so I wouldn’t punch through the back pockets, I had to hang the jeans off the corner of the table. Make sure the poster board is still under the fabric before punching. Again–keep those pockets out of harm’s way!

The next step was to wash the jeans as always–hot water, hot dryer. It was a little like Christmas when I got them back from the laundry (I send my laundry out, this being New York)!

Here’s the front view.

And, here’s the back view. Since I punched them all the way through, I was concerned that the mirror image of the basketweave might look strange, but it doesn’t.

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  1. beckyc4u | | #1

    The technique could be cute on a bag made of denim lined with a fun print or color. I personally couldn't wear these as a garment, but I could use the technique. Thanks for sharing.

  2. georgiana | | #2

    I have great admiration for Kenneth King; he does some wonderful work. However, slashing a perfectly good pair of jeans, in my opinion, is one way to completely ruin them. I will admit, though, that they look good on Mr. King. To me, tearing and/or slashing clothing is symbolic of violence and I would never allow my children to wear torn jeans no matter how popular they were.

  3. User avater
    QuiltinFool | | #3

    I can see where teenagers would like this. And like Becky, I think it could be used for other things I like Becky's idea if putting fabric behind the slits. Interesting idea! - Susan

  4. Nannysc | | #4

    I love it! For those who are a bit more mature or who are more modest, just cut from the knee down. The frayed look, after washing, is really attractive. Would look nice for a vest too. Thank you for sharing yet another inspiring method!

  5. Tolosano | | #5

    Jimmy Tolosano has passed away.

  6. User avater
    LuvThreadsMagazine | | #6

    Wonderful effect, and a great way to showcase those stems, Senor King.

  7. ipodgrannie | | #7

    The technique is great but not for jeans, other items would be really cute.

  8. User avater
    kennethdking | | #8


    This is a fun technique to do and wear. I found that after a couple more washings, the effect got a little fuzzier, and "bloomed" more. I've tried it on other fabrics since, and the effect varies by weave, with a twill weave giving results I like better. Putting fabric behind the slits is an option when one is making a garment from scratch (like we did in the magazine article), but the work-around here, is either tights (or in winter, my red long johns) underneath, or making sure the cuts fall below the modesty level of the wearer.

    To Quiltinfool, yes, the kids do indeed like these jeans. I've been shouted out many times on the streets by the younger ones.

    In response to Georgiana, the jeans were well past their prime, so instead of ruining a good pair, or throwing these away, I gave them a new look, and extended their life. They have become a "go-to" pair, and I have to make sure not to wear them too much. Interesting, though, the symbolism people attach to things--If I hadn't referred to it as "slashing", but as "strategic cutting" (which is what I'm doing, with the plotted-out grid, and is something that's historically inspired from the times of Henry the Eighth), might the psychological implication of violence have arisen? Interesting question. She is indeed right in saying the jeans look good on me--thanks for the compliment!

  9. Blackfabric | | #9

    That looks fabulous! I can't wait to read more in the magazine! I can imagine lacing fabric or ribbon through a similar pattern. I have a bunch of pliers, hammers, etc. in my sewing room right now. I have been wanting to do some work with leather and suede. I started with die cutting suede and using a leather punch and jump rings to join them. Where is your leather class when I need it? I looked for it but could not find it. I absolutely going to slice up some denim tomorrow!!!! :)

  10. User avater
    kennethdking | | #10

    To answer your question, Blackfabric, I'm finishing up on a CD book on working with leather and fur, so keep an eye out here, and I'll post when it will be available..

  11. User avater
    joannely | | #11

    You and your clothes just get more interesting as time goes by!!! This might just start a trend in Medford, Oregon but for sure long underwear would be needed in winter! Love the idea of only slashing from the knee to hem. Making a template out of clear plastic cutting mats would make it very durable for a long time.

  12. darylquilts | | #12

    I think those slashed jeans are simply awful looking! Sorry Kenneth, but on a man of your age they look ridiculous. Maybe for a Halloween party you could wear these jeans with some red goo for blood oozing out of the slashes might be for "fun", but otherwise they look hidious. Even would be ugly on teenagers. I agree with a couple of the other comments about slashing jeans just ruins them. Why does the fashion world need to have clothes that look like they came right off a homeless person? I feel bad for the homeless, but why try and look like them? All you needed was a cup in your hand or a sign and you would have earned a few coins that day wearing those jeans. Perhaps you were inspired to create these after seeing some poor person in the streets?

  13. sewtherapeutic | | #13

    well the way i see it its not about what Kenneth looks good in (he likes it and that is fine) it is about a new idea and how to do it right and then make it your own. Put ribbon through it or dont wear it or not, above the knee or below.
    I think a denim jacket would look fun using that technique.
    Wow creativity, Isn't it great?

  14. User avater
    cucperson | | #14

    As I began to read the post I was a bit skeptical I admit. BUT I really like it and yes it looks terrific on Mr King. Am I brave enough? I'm working on it.

  15. lapark | | #15

    about washing...last year i made a denim rag quilt and did a real number on my washer when all the threads frayed...ended up the repair men had to take my stack washer/dryer away and take it all apart...needless to say i learned to go to the laundromat for some of my creations...i like these jeans...but i'd probably take them to town for the first few washings!

  16. Beckster | | #16

    Style is ageless and Kenneth King has it. It's really more about attitude and a sense of adventure. Remember, this isn't life or death; if you don't like it, look at something else!

  17. Rabia | | #17

    I have an extremely KOOL pair of jeans that are a titch too SMALL for me in the hips now... I think this slash technique is just what I need! I am thinking that if it was done with staggered vertical slashes, the material should expand just enough, and I could put leather underneath the slashed part to keep everything decent! Thank you, Mr. King, for this GREAT idea,if it works out I will post a picture; if not , oh well!-those jeans were just lying around taking up storage space anyway!

  18. User avater
    kennethdking | | #18

    In response to Darylquilts:

    I haven't stopped laughing for the last five minutes! "A man my age?" Really? That's hilarious! I love it when people give me a good laugh! Well done.

    Are you familiar with Iris Apfel? Here's a link to an article about her in the New York Times:


    My favorite quote from the article is the last sentence: “that when you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.”

    Words to live by. And I do. My clothing pleases me, and I can communicate whomever I happen to be at a particular time, through my wardrobe. Getting dressed is a supreme pleasure for me

    I hope to look as fabulous as Ms. Apfel does when I'm her age, and I'm starting now. She's showing us that enjoying getting dressed--enjoying the expression of communicating through clothing, exploring fashion in an inventive and adventurous way, isn't something reserved only for the young. It's a healthy message.

  19. User avater
    kennethdking | | #19

    And to Beckster:

    Thanks! You got it right--and, it isn't life or death.

  20. qirfa | | #20

    OK so what I do for a living is mend peoples jeans. Certainly I would not pay $100's of dollars for jeans that where purposly slashed. But that does not mean I do not like them. Wear what makes you smile. You do not have to be a teanager you just have a little of a free spirit in you.

    I think I will use this technique the next time I do mend someones jeans. I have clients that let me play when I do mending things and love it when they get to walk around in their newly saved and mended favorite pair of jeans and they get stopped by people wanting to know who did them.

  21. User avater
    kennethdking | | #21

    To Joanely, and her comment about my clothing getting more interesting over time, which I view as a compliment:

    Moving to New York gave me a good chance to reinvent myself in many ways. One such way was my "look". After I dropped the weight and now work out regularly, I can better appreciate the axion "Fashion favors the slim". To reinvent my look, I've found that I like juxtaposing the high and the low in an outfit--it's a study in contrasts. So, watch this space, as I go further in experimenting with this idea.

    And be amused, be amused. As I am.

    For example of what this juxtaposition means, the photo of me in this post--I don't believe for a moment I'd have been mistaken for a homeless person. The jacket was vintage Lord and Taylor, the boots were Luccesi, the sunglasses were Alain Mikli bought in Paris--throw in my Tiffany Atlas watch, and that's the high.

    The t-shirt, was printed with Hindu deities bought from a Tibetan shop on St. Marks Place, and the jeans, of course, were old run down jeans I re-purposed for this post. That was the low. All together it worked. And it's fun to wear!

  22. rkr4cds1 | | #22

    I read everyone's comments this time, before viewing the 3 pages of Images. Therefore I wasn't quite sure what the end result would look like; I expected huge gaping holes from some of the reviews.
    I was very pleasantly surprised to find a wonderfully subdued pattern of small diagonal 'furries' all over Kenneth's jeans! And as the edges of the slits have bloomed, they have actually filled in any area that one might expect to see any skin through.
    Had these slits been cut straight across the grain the slits would more definitively gaped open when the body underneath bent or leaned over, though again the fuzzy edges camouflage most of this when upright.

    This is pure physics—and Kenneth knew exactly what he was doing by cutting them on the diagonal, which is why HE'S the designer and we're the readers!

    A few years ago, after back surgery, I needed to recover a sofa in the family room; I did it in a light blue denim which has a very slight slub and 'thread line' running through it.
    Instead of the laborious regular seaming techniques in upholstering, especially not being able to handle stiff, heavy fabric under the needle, I had the sofa/couch put up on saw horses and fit the fabric pieces right on the furniture itself.
    After cutting and pinning the fabric sections together, I used a similar thought process as Kenneth's—use the denim's ability to bloom to my advantage. The seam allowances were left on the outside/front side of the covering, and after machine washing and drying a few times, I have a great new light blue denim covered sofa, with half-inch long, rounded, soft white 'bloom' outlining all of the detail seam lines.
    Thx for your inspiration, Kenneth! I think I'll try this, with slightly shorter diagonal lines on some twill sale fabric in my stash. This almost looks like a tile or quilt pattern

  23. rkr4cds1 | | #23

    Whether one likes the idea of the diagonal slits or not, I'd like to address another feature I just noticed.
    This doesn't show up well in your photographs - of the finished jeans you're wearing or of the punch-process: did you really leave the right leg below the knee untouched, having the slits sort of trail off like they do in the photos?

    Now THAT'S interesting and definitely artistic. I love abstract, done on the diagonal, as the last row of the pattern appears to be and the juxtapositioning of the regular placement of slits over the rest of the jeans and then the untouched lower right pant leg is very unexpected.
    Definitely showing purpose and custom-design.

  24. User avater
    kennethdking | | #24

    To answer rkr4cds1 :

    Yes indeed I did, and you have a sharp eye! It doesn't show up as well in this photo, as I'm standing in 3/4 view, but you picked it up!

    Making the legs symmetrical seemed like it would "read" as a purchased fabric instead of a design imposed on an existing garment. I figured that if it looked strange I could just go back and cut the missing holes and make the legs symmetrical.

    Once I tried them on after the first washing, I made a couple of cuts here and there to make the design "read" from one leg to another better and across the outseams. It was easier to do this after the jeans were washed and I could better see the results in three dimensions.

    And you're right about the "bloom" concealing most of the skin underneath. If the jeans were too tight, that might not be the case, but the slashing also has the advantage of adding some wearing ease with the stretch generated by the cutting, so while some skin shows (which is what I wanted), it doesn't look unseemly. (Or so I think--others may disagree.)

  25. horandesigns | | #25

    Good Lord, Tearing and slashing clothing as symbols of violence? Looking ridiculous on a man of Kenneth's age? It seems like people have too much time on their hands to over-think these things. When the quilters use slashing techniques, everyone coos about how creative they are. Yet somehow, when a man does it, it evokes violence. Things that make you go hmmmm.... First of all, for a man "Kenneth's age", he's hot, and I'm talking physically as well as intellectually. I can only wish that he played on my team. Secondly, at what age do we tip over into being lemmings, all wearing the same bland vanilla clothing, looking like we walked out of Chico's? Clothing is an expression of who we are, or think we are. Most of the time, when I look around, I am disheartened because it looks like most don't think they are anyone at all. While I prefer not to look at 300-pound women in spandex, I have to give them credit for expressing themselves. I think we all need to step out of the box occasionally...if we would, we'd do it more often, once we realized what great fun it is!! Lighten up, folks, and worry about more important things.

  26. horandesigns | | #26

    I forgot to mention in my previous comment that I trained horses for several year, literally spending my daylight hours in the saddle. I can testify that, right about the time a pair of jeans was perfectly comfortable, they ripped out somewhere. If I was lucky, it was somewhere that didn't show more than I wanted, and I could keep on wearing them. I can assure you that there was nothing symbolic of violence involved...purely a symbol of hard work. People pay a couple of hundred dollars these days to have jeans worn and ripped the way mine were. I've never paid over $20 for a pair of cowboy cut Wranglers. Now, don't I feel smart!!

  27. sews4fun | | #27

    Call me crazy but I see button holes when I look at these jeans. How cute would it be to have a top made with all kinds of big and little buttons as button art on it?
    Mr. King, you are innovative!

  28. nanacosta | | #28

    Mr. King!!!!! I just adore the way that you look!!! very unique!!! Well, let me tell you that I also love your experiments and fun ideas to make and do....I also think that I will change the words: a man of your age....with: a man with a wonderfull personality!!!! and I do belive that what we wear, lets us show our personality most of the time. In your case: a wonderfull one!!!! best regards to you, all lthe way from...........the Rainforest!!!!

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