This blogpost is how I take an old pair of jeans and cut them into a pair of denim shorts – it’s a great way to get more from your existing wardrobe!
Let me start with why… Because I feel I can hear you saying to yourself “isn’t it easier to just buy them?” – well yes… well no!
Denim shorts come in a quite a variety of styles, colour washes, lengths and also various degrees of ‘stress’ to the denim – and I got to stage with it all that I was completely unsure of what I wanted. Every time I thought I found a pair, I went all into ‘Chandler Bing’ mode of describing every fault – rather than “will they do?”
And for a good pair of denim shorts, they are not cheap. So if I am going to invest my personal style into one pair for this summer; I wanted every single detail ticked with a positive YES!
WHERE TO START
I started with a pair of jeans that I absolutely love, but the fit had started to be a little too loose for me. This was important I felt, as you don’t want denim shorts to be too tight.
The jean style I picked was high-waisted, which was a style I was struggling to find variety on when I was trying to buy highstreet.
Other key points I love about my jeans were… I loved the colour-wash of the blue denim, I wear then all summer long because the blue is just right. They are slightly distressed already which meant I would only have to add a little more plus just a few months before, I bought a second replacement pair because I loved them so much. I just knew (if I took my time) they would make the perfect pair of denim shorts.
TOOLS FOR THE JOB
You will need:
- A sharp pair of scissors that will cut through denim fairly straight
- A stick of white chalk (worth investing in, as it washes off easily, avoid using an ink pen as this is likely not to wash off)
- A seam ripper (image below) – this was my main tool – you usually can find one in a little sewing kit
- Tweezers – I had them at hand… but didn’t use them that much
- A Stanley Knife (image below) – if you want more rips to destress the shorts
- Access to a washing machine – this stage is quite crucial
HOW TO CUT JEANS INTO A PAIR OF DENIM SHORTS
Hopefully they are not newly washed, if they are wear them for a day or two to get that really comfy feel.
Then (wearing a cropped top or just your bra) put them on, stand in front of a mirror and have the stick of white chalk to mark out where you want them to finish on the front of your legs and then where you want them to finish on the back of your legs. Be careful to stay as upright as possible because as you bend, the denim will move.
To start with… think longer – you can always go shorter but you simply cannot add it back on! This mission is a long one…. not a quick race. And this is probably the first of four or five ‘fittings’ just to give you an indication of how slowly I did mine.
Once you take them off, you will probably notice the front is shorter than the back – this would be correct. I think this is where many people go wrong, they mark the front only, cut across and then find their bum cheeks are sticking out! (LOL!)
To cut the long length off, start by cutting up the inner leg on just the one side – you will be cutting off four long sections as we will be working on each area individually. Then about 2cm below the line you marked out, cut across. Do this for the reverse side. Do this twice again to the other leg.
Use the seam ripper to start fraying all the way round from the bottom up to the chalk mark – if you done this correctly your fraying will be 2cm all the way around.
Put them on – and decide for yourself if the length now needs to be shorter – DO NOT CUT! If yes to being shorter, then take them off and using the seam ripper, start the process again according to how much shorter you want them; 0.5cm, 1cm, another 2 cm – you have to decide this for yourself.
Once you’ve done that, put them back on. Look all the way round – are you happy with the length of the shorts to the point just before they start to fray? If yes, now we are ready to ‘trim’
Remove them, and cut the fraying to the length of fray that you want. I created a Pinterest board which you can follow, to give you inspiration as to how you want the fraying to be; plus it shows many ways to style them too.
You may prefer to have your fray the exact same length all-the-way round – I personally preferred to have mine uneven, as I want a more distressed finished.
Once you have got the fraying where you would like, put them on and grab your chalk again and start to mark out where you would like to create rips. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Remove them, and then use the Stanley knife (be careful to just cut the front or the back section only and not both pieces) – slit across the chalk mark. Now take your tweezers and gently pull a few frays away (don’t cut or rip them).
I also used the seam ripper to distress the corners of the back-pockets and by the belt loops just to add more stress.
Wash the shorts in the machine on a quick wash
Once dry, iron them.
You will see that the rips will have naturally become more worn and the fraying may need some tidying up – so do what you naturally think will make them look good.
Stick them on for a final check, I found at this stage I was more confident to snip away a little more with the scissors to really tailor them around where I wanted them to be on my thighs. Doesn’t hurt either to do a few squats and sit in a chair to see how the fraying looks.
I didn’t wash mine again, but if you add a lot more rips, then I would recommend you do – as it’s the washing that makes them distress.
And that’s it – just get wearing them!
I’ve worn in the garden with flip-flops, out supermarket shopping with trainers. I’ve also dressed them in heels to go out plus I’ve also been on a coffee date too.
And that’s why I think if you pick a pair you loved already… you’ll love the results.
Just take your time to get there