Learning how to cut jeans into shorts is essential for every DIY lover and fashionista. Cut-off denim shorts are among the most versatile bottoms that you can wear with any of your favorite tops and footwear. With the capability to make your own, you can have a new pair without spending too much time or money searching for one that matches your style.
How to Cut Jeans Into Shorts - DIY Cutoffs
Learning and mastering the steps of how to cut jeans into shorts isn’t enough. There are things to keep in mind so that you don’t end up disappointed or with cut-off shorts that you can’t wear. Here are three of the most essential:
- Choose the Right Pair of Jeans
- Pre-Shrink Your Jeans
- Decide On the Shorts’ Length
Choose the Right Pair of Jeans
You can’t just choose any pair of old jeans because not all of them will look good as shorts. For example, baggy jeans will end up as baggy shorts, while tight jeans will turn into tight shorts. Plus, stretchable denim will usually have plastic or rubber woven into it, which will dangle from the shorts’ bottom. Ideally, use a pair that fits your thighs, buttocks, and hips comfortably and is made from 100% cotton.
Pre-Shrink Your Jeans
Pre-shrinking is important for jeans that you haven’t worn or washed in a long time. It will ensure you won’t cut the pants too short. For this step on how to cut jeans into shorts, all you’ve to do is wash and dry the pants in your washer and dryer as you normally would. Read more about how to wash jeans.
Decide On the DIY Cut-Offs Length
The best thing about making your cut-off shorts is you can decide how long or short they should be, depending on what you want to wear with them. The length can also determine the best type of jeans that you can cut. Your choices include:
- Capri - Capris aren’t literally shorts since they rest at your calves, but some of you might prefer them over real shorts. They’re also great for beginners since you don’t have to make significant alterations, allowing you to master your skills on how to cut jeans into shorts. After all, you can cut them shorter into real shorts later. Your tight-fitting skinny jeans will be the perfect choice for this project.
- Bermuda - Resting right above your knees, choose pants that fit your thighs well. However, you can also choose loose-fitting ones if you want more comfortable and roomy bermuda shorts for the summer.
- Classic - About three to five inches above your knees, you can make a classic pair of shorts with pants that fit you well. This length is a good choice if you're working on overly worn-out jeans.
- Mini - These shorts are those that usually only cover your buttocks and a tiny portion of your thighs with hemlines that are about two to three inches from the crotch. Tight pants are the best option since they will ensure coverage of your buttocks even when you sit down or bend over.
To cut jeans into shorts, you will need the following:
- Jeans to cut off - the older the better!
- Tailor's chalk or removable fabric pen
- Optional - tweezers for fraying
How to Cut Jeans Into Shorts - Tutorial
Some of you might think that turning your jeans into shorts only involves deciding how short the pair should be and then cutting. You can do so, but you’ll end up with a pair that you can only wear at home while you’re cleaning! To have ones that you can wear while shopping, going to the beach, and more, here are the five steps on how to cut jeans into shorts.
- Measure and Mark
- Add Finishing Touches
- Wash and Dry
Step #1: Measure and Mark
Put your jeans on and mark the new spot where wish them to finish. Carefully take the jeans off, ensuring you don’t erase the mark. Lay the pants on a flat, clean surface, and button and zip them up. It will also help ensure that the pants don’t have creases or wrinkles, as they can lead to inaccurate measurements or uneven legs.
Take your ruler and use chalk to complete the mark you made earlier by drawing a line from end to end. However, you don’t want to create a straight line for this step since your shorts won’t look natural.
Angle the Line
The next step on how to cut jeans into shorts is to angle your measuring device a little. The outer thigh should be a little higher than the inner thigh. This is to prevent your crotch from showing when you wear your cut-offs.
Add Hem Seam Allowance
You will now need to add some hem allowance so that you can add some finishing touches later. It will also give you some room for adjustments, like cutting the shorts slightly shorter if you’re not happy with the final length.
How much you add will depend on the type of edge you desire, but here are some guidelines for adding hem allowance:
- Frayed edges - Add ½ to1 inch (1.2-2.5cm)
- Fringed edges - Add 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10cm)
- Hemmed edge - Add 1 inch (2.5cm)
- Cuffs - Add 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10cm)
Step #2: Cut
Cut along the last line you created using your fabric scissors. Don’t worry if the cut isn’t perfect; after all, you’ll make adjustments and add finishing touches later on as you go along the process of how to cut jeans into shorts.
Fold the jeans in half perfectly and match the second leg. Do this carefully ensuring the waist is at the same level on both sides. I often do this on my ironing table and press the jeans flat to make sure I'm being accurate. Cut the second leg using the first as a guide.
Step #3: Adjust
The next step in this how to cut jeans into shorts process is to try on the shorts and stand in front of the mirror. Look at the first marking you created and ask yourself if the length is what you have in mind. You might suddenly decide to have mini shorts instead of classic or classic instead of a pair of capris! Also, turn around and look at how the cut-off shorts fit you and how they look on you. Then adjust according to your preference.
Step #4: Add DIY Finishing Touches
For this step, you can add finishing touches to the shorts’ edges and throughout the shorts. Let’s learn about each of them below.
Jean Shorts Edges
This step on how to cut jeans into shorts is something you shouldn’t skip. You have a lot of options for edging the jeans, namely:
- Frayed Edges - If you want to stop the fraying at a certain point, machine stitch around your finished marked line. Otherwise the fraying may go on indefinately - of course you may want that! Then, to start fraying, pull some of the blue threads with your fingers or a pair of tweezers. This will leave the distinctive white threads hanging down. You can also rub the edges with sandpaper, pumice stone, or a shaver to get even more dramatic results. Read the full article on how to fray fabric for lots more tips.
- Fringe - In this step of how to cut jeans into shorts, you can also create a classic fringe which is a more dramatic form of fraying. Throw the cut-out shorts into the washer, set to regular wash and dry cycles, and let the machine do its job. You can repeat the process if you want even more fringing. Once you’re happy with the amount hanging down, reinforce the top-most part of the fringes to prevent further fraying in the future.
- Folded Hem - If you don’t want any fringing or fraying, you might want to seal the edges with a hem. To hem the jeans edges, fold them twice by ½ inch (12mm) to form a double hem, then stitch manually or using your sewing machine. If you are hand stitching, use a backstitch or running stitch.
- Cuff - A cuff is a little bigger than a hem. To create one, fold the edge toward the first line you made (the length of the shorts you want) and then fold again in half. Take your warm iron and press it on the cuff to keep it in place. You can sew the sides of the cuff to hold it in place.
- Add Fabric - You can also add more style to your cut-off shorts by reinforcing the edges with another fabric, such as cotton or lace. Measure the fabric or lace you want to add and sew it on the edges. Read how to sew lace trim. Lace is best sewn with a zig-zag stitch.
The Rest of the Shorts
Apart from adding finishing touches on the shorts’ hems, you can add some glam to the shorts using the following suggestions.
- Embellish - You can embellish your newly cut-off shorts with sequins, beads, and more. You can follow a particular pattern or just distribute them anywhere on the shorts. You may also paint some areas or add a patch on one leg or one back pocket.
- Distress and/or Rip - Another excellent way to glam up your shorts is to distress or rip some of the areas. You can use bleach, scrape or fray with a shaver, sandpaper, or pumice stone. You can also create small holes using scissors, a knife, or a cutter.
Step #5: Wash
Once you’re happy with the shorts, you just made, the next step in this process of how to cut jeans into shorts is to wash them. It can help remove the marks you made and any extra threads and dirt accumulated throughout the process. Of course, allow your shorts to dry before wearing them. Read more about how to wash jeans.
How to Cut Jeans into Shorts
- Pair Jeans
- 1 Piece Tailor's Chalk
- 1 Unit Ruler
- 1 Pair Scissors
- Try your shorts on and mark the length you would like to make them.
- Take the shorts off and flatten and straighten the seams. Mark the new length at a slight angle so the side seam is slightly shorter.
- Add a hem allowance either for fraying or for a folded hem.
- Cut along the new hem allowance line.
- Fray the edges by pulling at the blue threads.
Cutting Your Jeans Into Shorts Successfully
The process of how to cut jeans into shorts is so easy you only require basic DIY or crafting tools. As easy as it may sound, minor mistakes, like inaccurate measurements, can lead to a disaster. You can also end up continuously cutting until the length of the shorts no longer suits you. That is why, as always, practice makes perfect. It’s always best to start with a length far longer than what you really want and adjust accordingly. Good luck and have fun with your new DIY cut-offs.