Shopping Your Closet: DIY Shorts

It’s a heat wave, I mean literally! It is almost 100°C this weekend and summer is calling. Time to pull out the flowy dresses, off-the-shoulder tops, and cute shorts! But wait there is a problem! I have the same few shorts I have been wearing for years. Shorts that were once sharp and exciting are now worn out and uninspiring for formulating some fabulous outfits. I don’t particularly like going shopping for shorts because I generally find them overpriced and I would rather stumble upon the unexpected treasure that I will enjoy for a long time.

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So here we are, practically boiling and nothing to wear. I took to looking at my own closet for inspiration for solving this problem. After all, I am an engineering I should be able to solve this one. I had just gone through my jeans and pulled out several that I was supposed to either donate or throw away, so when I saw them as I stared at my closet, the idea hit me. Turn my old jeans into shorts.

Have no fear, a DIY is here! I will tell you how I turned my old worn out jeans into some fabulous denim shorts!



  • Jeans
  • A pair of old shorts
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers,
  • Optional: X-Acto knife, old magazine, embroidered patches, rhinestones, other decorative materialIMG_8723
  1. Selecting the right jeans – It is quite important to pick jeans that have a great fit around your hips, butt, and thighs for the shorts to come out well. This works best with jeans that are not skin tight around your thighs (look at the fit of your current shorts for ideas), but the overall style of the jeans does not matter. I chose a pair of really comfortable and soft skinny jeans that had just gotten too worn to wear as jeans, but I could cut out those parts when turning them into shorts.
  2. Plan out the look of your shorts – Plan out the style you would like for your shorts. I really like the raw edge style of denim for my shorts. Therefor I made sure to account for an extra ¼ inch at the hem. Next I measured out the length I would cut my shorts. I have two hacks for this. 1) Lay out an old pair of shorts with approximately length that you would like to mimic on top of the jeans. 2) Use masking tape to mark that length all the way around the pant leg. Make sure to match up both pant legs. When you put the jeans on the white tape marks will help you visualize the length of the shorts on your body and you can adjust accordingly.
  3. Time to cut – Use your scissors and cut along the white tape mark. Cutting denim can be rather difficult so take your time and remember that it does not need to be perfect as we will be distressing the hem.


  4. Distressing the denim – I wanted my shorts to have a distressed fringe edge. For this look, I cut small incisions around the hem of the shorts. They were about 1 cm in length and about 1 cm apart all the way around. Afterwards I took my tweezers and gently pulled away the white threads that run parallel to the edge of the shorts. The small flaps you cut, will make this process easier.  Another hack, use the excess pieces you just cut off for practice.
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  5. Try them on and style them up! – I have paired my new shorts with a lemon patterned shirt. I have linked several similar ones below. Feel free to embellish your shorts with lace, rhinestones, and iron on embroidery to suit your personal style!

Additional Technique:DSC01515

For another jean to shorts transformation, I wanted to make distressed holes. To create the holes, I used my masking tape to mark off the placement for the holes. To protect the other size of the shorts I placed a magazine between the front and back. Using an X-Acto knife, I cut horizontal lines following the shape of the opening I want and gently pull the threads apart.

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Hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial of how I transformed some old pair of jeans into fashionable shorts for the summer heat. If you decide to make your own denim transformations, please tag me (@gradperspective – Instagram & @gradperspectiv – Twitter), I would love to see your creations!

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