My wife just had her sewing box out and I spotted the seam-ripper. It took me back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when we would get new pair of bellbottom jeans. We'd wash the bejesus out of them (you had to back then because there was no such thing as pre-washed pants. They hadn't even invented Stone or Acid-washed jeans!)
But back to the seam-ripper. You would have been considered a dork in '76 if you had an intact cuff hem in your pants. The look was, of course, supposed to make it look as though the jeans were so old the cuff had worn away. So we would sit and methodically rip out the seam and then fray the cuff to a lengthy of approximately 3/4 of an inch. It was most definitely a cultivated pre-grunge grunge look.
If you got a hole in your pants you did one of two things. You either A) picked a bigger hole or B) sewed a patch made from a previous pair of discarded jeans (perhaps the ones you made into curlers the previous year.) the patch could not be machine sewn. It had to be poorly hand-sewn. Iron on patches were most definitely a mark of dorkedness.
The greatest tragedy was when a kid's mother bought him Sear Toughskins jeans. Not only did these pants never wear out, but they never faded. EVER. (there are still pairs of toughskin jeans in our landfills that are their original shade of blue.) we knew this kid, named David, whose mother bought him tough skins, and after he intentionally picked a hole in the knee, she went and ironed on an iron- on patch like he was a five year old! That kid later became addicted to heroin. I ain't shittin' ya neither!
A few years later when the disco ass-hats came into power, you could barely get into a club with unripped jeans on, let alone these works of art on which we'd labored so long.