Cutting jeans into shorts (7 easy ideas to make denim cut offs)

Different ways to make cut off jean shorts from your jeans - turn that old jeans that is too short or out of fashion into shorts easily

When you think of making a new garment – you know it is work! Buying fabric, prepping it, measuring the body, marking the pattern, cutting and then sewing it – all this without making a mess of the whole thing. What if you can get an item of entirely new clothing without all these hullabaloos. Just cut something and you have an absolutely delightful new clothing- introducing the cut off jean shorts.

diy cut off jean shorts

As if a cut off jean shorts needs an introduction! Everyone knows how to cut old jeans and make them into shorts. But I have something different up my, ahem, jeans hem.

There are some nice ways to jazz up the cut off jeans to make it look slightly different than all the other same-old-indigo-coloured-jeans you are cutting. You don’t want to seem as if you are wearing the same shorts everyday.

How to cut up jean shorts

You can choose to make the simplest pair of denim cut-off shorts – just cut off the legs of a jeans – choose jeans which is not the slim fit kind – slightly loose-fitting ones will make comfortable summer shorts that the tight-fitting jeans. If the shorts are very short you can even use the slim fit jeans to make your cut off shorts

make jean shorts by cutting off the legs off the jeans

Cut straight or at an angle – it is your choice. A very short one is better cut at an angle.

cut off the legs at an angle

The easy Ideas for cut-offs that I claimed I know are as follows


  • Cut off Shorts with Fringed hem

fringed hem shorts

The fringed hem is the most common finish seen in jean shorts – for one, it is easy to make; next thing is it looks very cool and casual.

To bring out this easy hem, you have to cut the jeans at the length you want, plus some 1 inch extra or so for the fringe. Now make a stitching line along the area where you want the fringes to begin.

make a stitch parallel to the cut off edge
Make a stitch parallel to the cut off edge

The below given is a store bought fringed jean short- here the stitching line is made with the same orange topstitching thread of the jeans

Fray the edge from there

I have made my stitching line in a black colored thread. Now use the seam ripper to take out the white thread that lies horizontally across the jean hem – the blue vertical thread remaining will form the fringe.

The horizontal stitching line will prevent over fraying beyond the line – even with repeated washes.

the stitching line will prevent the cut off shorts from fraying further

You may want to loosen the side seams of the jeans at the bottom edge after the stitching line to make the fringes at the side seam- or even cut it off if you are lazy to do this part or just leave it as it is. After a few washes and tumbles in the washing machine the fray will start to look as worn out as you want it to be.

  • Denim cutoffs with Eyelet hem

make eyelets along the hem of the cut off denim - tutorial

This is a very easy way to roughen up your girly jeans – simply add metal hardware. So easy to insert.

make small holes anf attach metal eyelets

Make the smallest hole you can make to insert the eyelets or grommets and use a rubber mallet or special grommet tool to fix it in place.

Here is a tutorial that explains about the tools that you can use to attach the metal grommets on fabric.

Leave the hem as it is for a rough look.

eyelet hem on the shorts hem

You may want to add some rips here and there for a tougher look. Use the seam ripper to take out the vertical thread in places leaving the white thread of the denim intact.

distress the denim

Make more vertical rips like this.

use seam ripper to make rips on the denim shorts surface

The girly look is totally gone – what to do with the pink button?. Replace the jeans button to a rugged one.

  • Cuffed hem

Cuff the edges of the shorts

This involves making a separate cuff or a self cuff with the hem turned to the front and stitched in place.

cut off the jeans at the lappropriate length

To make a separate cuff attach a printed or contrasting coloured fabric strip along the bottom edge and turn to the front and stitch in place.

Turn up the legs and sew in place

Instead of stitching it in place just make a bar tack stitch at the side seams after folding the hem.

make a bar tack stitch to keep the turned up hem in place
Sew a bar tack stitch to keep the turned up hem in place
  • Bleached to a lighter shade

You can use bleach to turn the boring (I don’t think so, but maybe you do) indigo colour of the jean shorts to a lighter one – Just dilute the bleach with water and keep the shorts in it for some time. If you want an uneven bleached effect you can spray more bleach on selective places.

Know how to use bleach and use all precautions.

Dots made with fabric paint or bleach

As an alternative just make the bleach marks in selective places in the shape you want by stamping the shorts with stamps dipped in beach

  • Lace attached hem for the cut-off jeans

  • ATtach lace the hem of the shorts

Here lace is added to pretty up the hem of the jeans cut off shorts.

  • Ribbon on the side seam

Add fabric trims to the outer seams

Add an interesting strip of fabric or grosgrain ribbon along the outer side seam of the shorts.

  • Seriously mangled ( I mean ripped) shorts

Rip the jean shorts at the hem

Roughen up your jeans a lot more and you have this very distressed jean shorts. Check out this post “15 ways to distress your jeans” and “How to rip your jeans without removing the white thread” for some ideas on how to do it.

For a vacation trip to a beach resort, we needed some shorts – what better way for a lazy person like me than to cut off old jeans which have all gone short or out of fashion or just tired of being the same color as the newly bought jean. Many birds with the same stone.

Which one is your favourite?

Related Posts : 24 different types of Shorts; Men’s Boxer Shorts – Pattern & tutorial; History of jeans – a timeline; How to embellish your jeans – 18 different ways; Embroidered Jeans – DIY tutorial – and the best positions for embroidery.; 10 Denim Jeans reuse ideas

reuse denim ideas

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Cutting jeans into shorts (7 easy ideas to make denim cut offs)”

  1. Wow i never knew you could do so many things with cut off jeans. Thank you so much for sharing this, you make it look so easy too.
    Thank you

    • The internet is the first place I go for information. There are sites and YouTube videos offering free DIYs and patterns for clothing and other projects. One of my hobbies is reconstruction and deconstruction of clothing. My favorite source for clothing are thrift stores. Some have fabric, however, choices are limited. Consignment stores are another source for clothing, however, prices are typically higher.

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