Mending and upcycling used clothing are not only part of a greener, more sustainable lifestyle, they also save you money. Why go out and spend more money on something you already have? Your favorite shorts are in your closet just waiting to be made.
We all love cut-off jean shorts. They're an easy, flattering, casual summer basic. But, as cut-off denim frays, they also tend to disintegrate into nothingness after a summer of washing. Gone are your favorite cut-offs when you go searching for them the following summer.
Follow this simple tutorial to create your new favorite cut-offs!
- Old jeans
- Sewing machine & thread
- Denim or Jeans sewing machine needle
- Ruler (if you have a triangle ruler with a right angle, this is helpful!)
- Jar, glass or mug (something cylindrical)
- Tailor's Chalk (or just a pen, although the pen may not wash out)
- Straight pins (or clips)
- Seam ripper (optional, but handy)
- there are no creases,
- the left half of the waistband is lined up with that of the right leg (but not the front to the back), and
- the inner- and outer leg seams are lined up
From the crotch, measure down the length you’d like your shorts (Probably 2.5” to 5”, or 7.5 cm to 12.5 cm, or a bit shorter if these are for a child. The jeans in the photo are being cut for my daughter, so I went for 5 cm). Make a small mark. Then, measure one more inch (2.5 cm) from there. Make another mark. (If you’re not sure about the length, it’s always best to err on the longer side. You can always cut more off later if they’re not short enough.)
Lining your ruler perpendicular (90˚ angle) to the inner leg seam at the lower mark, draw a line across the leg.
STEP 2: CUTTING & TESTING FOR FIT
Cut along your line through all four layers.
You can now turn your shorts right side out and put them on. Fold the leg up one inch - this will be the final length after sewing - to test the length.
Do you like the length? Perfect! Continue to step 3. Not short enough? Go back to step 1.
STEP 3: ROUNDING OFF
Turn your shorts inside out again, but keep the legs apart this time.
Smooth out one leg and line up the bottom (cut off) edge, starting from the outer seam. Don’t worry about the other leg at this time.
Place your cylinder at the outer, lower corner of the leg so that it is tangent to the line you have cut and the outer seam of the leg. Draw the curve. Cut along the curved line through both the front and back of the leg.
Fold the leg with the rounded corner over the other leg and line these up at the outer seam and lower (cut off) edge. Trace the corner onto the other leg. Cut along the line.
STEP 4: RIPPING SEAMS
Using your seam ripper (or very carefully using scissors, if you don’t have a seam ripper), take out one inch of the seam just above the rounded corner you cut on both legs.
STEP 5: PINNING
Starting at the front of one leg, fold up the cut edge (towards the inside of the jeans) by 1/2” and then again by 1/2" and pin in place. Put pins on the right side (outside) of the jeans so that you can take them out easily while sewing.
Place pins every inch or so to hold the seam that you will sew. The corner part can be a real hassle…but it’s worth it!
Repeat this with the other leg.
STEP 6: PREPARE YOUR MACHINE & SEW!
If you are sewing shorts from fitted jeans, you may want to turn the length knob on your sewing machine to Stretch Stitch, or SS (the selector stitch will be straight stitch). This will cause the fabric to stretch out a bit, but will also ensure your shorts don’t cut in to your thighs.
Turn your shorts right-side-out.
Hem your jeans, stitching about 1/3" from the edge (I just line the edge of the jeans up with the sewing foot) and starting about one inch up from the edge on the outside seam. Sew all around the leg and finish back at your first stitch.
Repeat on the other leg.
Done! Enjoy your favorite jean shorts!