3 Easy Ways to Repurpose Old Jeans Into Cute Shorts

diy jean shorts

Looking for some instant summer wardrobe gratification? Grab those old jeans out of the dresser and transform them into fun, stylish shorts! With these three quickie tutorials, you’ll soon be ready for all the warm-weather adventures.

DIY Jean Shorts

Level: Easy

What You Need

  • Old pair of jeans
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric marker or tailor’s chalk
  • Scissors
  • Bias tape maker (optional)
  • Prep Work

    Determine the Length

    measuring jeans for diy shorts

    Put your jeans on and consider how long you want your finished shorts to be. Knee-length? Short-short? Somewhere in the middle? Whatever you decide, measure the length you want, then add about 1 to 2″ for finishing your edges (more on that below).

    Use a fabric marker or tailor’s chalk to note where you want your length to hit on each leg. Take off your shorts.

    Cut your jeans at the mark you made.

    Pro Tip: You can also grab an existing pair of shorts that hit at a length you like. Measure the inseam, then use that as a guideline to cut off the jean legs. Remember, you still want to add extra length to your measurement for hemming.

    Now comes decision time: Do you want your edges to be rolled, frayed, or have contrasting fabric? Let your answer guide you through the following tutorials for the edges of your shorts.

    Rolled Shorts

    rolled hem jean shorts

    Finish the cut edge of your shorts with a serger to keep it from fraying.

    Roll up the edge to the length you want (typically the 1 to 2″ you added when you first cut the shorts). Stitch the rolls down at the side seam so they stay in place.

    Frayed Shorts

    frayed jean shorts

    When you want a frayed look without sacrificing length, run a couple rows of machine stitches about 1″ from the cut edge. That way, when the fabric frays it will stop at that point. Use a matching thread so the stitching won’t show on the outside.

    Contrasting Edge Shorts

    Grab cute, leftover fabric strips from your stash and add an eye-catching edge to your new shorts.

    1. Measure the Leg Opening

    measuring cut shorts

    Start by measuring the leg opening. Since jeans are often very form-fitting, we recommend adding some extra wiggle room. Create space by opening up the outside side seam into a slit. We made ours about 3″ long.

    2. Reinforce the Side Seam Slit

    sewing side seam slit into jean shorts

    Stitch the side seam slit you just created, so it doesn’t pull open with wearing and washing.

    3. Make Bias Binding

    making bias binding

    Grab your scrap fabric and use a bias tape maker to turn it into bias binding. You’ll need enough to cover the leg opening, the side seam slits, and a little extra to turn under the edges. For example, our leg openings are 18″, plus 3″ each for the side seam slits, plus 2″ extra — add ’em all together and we need about 26″ of bias binding per leg.

    Good to Know: If you don’t have a bias tape maker, check out our tutorial on how to make bias tape without one.

    For the width, we started with 2″, then pressed into double fold binding.

    4. Attach the Bias Binding

    pinning bias tape to diy shorts

    Starting at the top of one side slit, fold the edge of the bias to make a clean finish. Sandwich the jeans edge in the fold of the bias binding. Pin all around.

    pinned bias tape on diy denim shorts

    Machine stitch the binding onto the shorts, making sure to catch both sides of the binding to encase the denim.

    Reply to Linda
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    12 Responses to “3 Easy Ways to Repurpose Old Jeans Into Cute Shorts”

    1. Linda

      Love the shorts with the bias trim. I already have lots of cute bias. Hope it’s wide enough!

    2. Marilyn

      Repurpose those old jeans into a skirt. Easy to wear and cooler than shorts in summer heat!

    3. Christine Hunter

      Any ideas on what to do with jeans that have worn out being the legs at the crotch and turn them into shorts? Maybe a way to patch the wear spots and decorate them, so the patch doesn’t really show?

      • lh

        The only way I know to fix a crotch is to sew in a “gusset” cut to match the ruined portion of the jeans. Hopefully, you can find matching denim or it looks “hokey” IMHO.

      • Melissa Johansen

        Look up visible mending. Essentially what you’ll do is find a scrap of denim (or cute cotton if you wanna go crazy) and lay it on the inside of the jeans over the ripped portion. Then use coordinating (or contrasting if you want it to stand out) thread and stitch all over the patch and the jeans. It will be visible, but there are lots of really beautiful ways to stich it so that it kinda becomes a piece of art :) Good luck!

        • Brenda Aylesworth

          I have used (machine) embroidery to “darn” those darn trouble spots! I then added more (Butterflies!) all over the capris! A variety of colors makes it easy to match all my tops!

      • Erline

        Rolled hem (third picture from the top). Frayed hem (4th picture from tge top)