How to Create Cut-Off Jean Shorts

Written by veronica smith-jennings
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How to Create Cut-Off Jean Shorts
Create jean cut-off shorts with a variety of edges or finishes. (denim background image by Adam Borkowski from

Recycle an old or outdated pair of jeans while keeping up with current trends by making your own pair of cut-off jean shorts. While you could pay quite a bit for stylish jean shorts from your favourite trendy store, you can mimic even expensive styles with some planning and some tips to get the finish, as well as the length, you are looking for.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Pair of jeans
  • Pair of favourite shorts
  • Scissors
  • Iron (optional)
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Thread (optional)
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer

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  1. 1

    Choose a pair of shorts to use as a cutting guide to create your own cut-off jean shorts. Choose a pair that has the length you want your new shorts to have. They don't have to be jean shorts; even workout shorts will do.

  2. 2

    Line up the hems of both the shorts and the jeans. When both hems are lined up, place the shorts onto the jeans with the back waistbands matching up. Do not line up the front and back waistbands; this will make the leg seams uneven when you cut.

  3. 3

    Cut the jeans based on the length of your model shorts. If you plan to create shorts with frayed edges, cut at least 1/2 inch lower than the length of your model shorts. If you want to roll the bottoms of your jean shorts, cut three inches longer than the model shorts. For a sewn seam, cut two inches longer than the model shorts.

  4. 4

    For a frayed edge, wash the shorts in the washing machine and run them through the dryer. Every time they go through the washing machine and dryer, the shorts will be more frayed.

  5. 5

    If an unsewn rolled edge is desired, put on the shorts and roll the hems to the desired length. Take the shorts off and iron the hems to make the rolled-up portion sturdier.

  6. 6

    For a sewn seam, turn the edge of the shorts under one inch and iron. Turn under another inch, iron and sew the seam.

Tips and warnings

  • Bleach the shorts if you'd like a faded denim look. Mix one cup of bleach per gallon of water in a bucket and soak the shorts for several hours. Check on the shade of the denim, then continue to soak until the desired shade is reached.
  • Soak the shorts overnight in a mixture of two cups of ground coffee and water to give your jean shorts a distressed look. Add just enough water to allow for soaking.

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