DIY: Cut-offs

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Nothing says America like blue jeans, and nothing says summer like cut-offs. But I know what you’re thinking. A DIY about how to cut off shorts? Is this the 4th of July or April Fool’s Day?


You’re right, making cut-offs is fairly straightforward, but after my latest attempt, I figured out a few of tricks that you might not know.

1. Buy oversized.

Sure, you can pull out last winter’s jeans to cut off to make some shorts, but I’m guessing they aren’t going to be as comfortable as a great worn in pair a couple of sizes too big. Husband (our personal weatherman – no, he’s not really a weatherman) reminded the family last week on one of the 109 degree days that we need to be wearing loose fitting clothes to stay cool. My winter skinny jeans certainly aren’t loose fitting, but a nice thrifted pair 2-3 sizes up sure are. You can always pair them with a belt if you need to. (Yes, you CAN buy NEW cut off shorts, but why spend $50 when you can easily find some jeans at the thrift store to chop for less than $5? And you can customize them to your perfect length.)

2. Start long.

Sure, you can pull out a pair of regular shorts to lay on top of your jeans to cut off, but the fit of pants and shorts can vary widely. There have been many times that I’ve cut jeans off to only end up with a pair too short to be seen anywhere besides the public pool parking lot. So try them on, mark where you think they should be, and then cut them a little longer. You can always trim more if you need, but you can’t sew extra back on to add length. Well, maybe you could…hmm, let me go add that to my project list….

3. Save your scraps.

For my denim cut-offs, I originally cut a little strip from the bottom of one of the legs for another project (stay tuned) when I realized I should just make them into shorts. Fabric scraps, especially denim ones, can be used for lots of different things, so it’s best to save them in your fabric stash.

OK, so here’s what I did:


Start by trying on your jeans and using chalk to mark where you think you want the frayed edge to fall.


I like to use a large cutting mat for this part. I line up the hem of the pant legs on one line of the cutting grid, and then I line up a straight edge ruler on the line closest to the chalk mark I made previously. Then I run the rotary cutter along the straight edge to cut the legs off of the pants. Repeat with the other leg.


Try them on and see if you like the length or if you need to trim a little more. You should probably play around with your camera and your backdoor a little bit, too, just for good measure. Or just for being a dork.


These were perfect on the first try. In fact, I’ve worn these so much since I chopped them, I decided I need another pair.


So I thrifted a pair of oversized corduroys this time.


I was surprised to find so many pairs of cords at the thrift store in the middle of summer. These winners are Talbots Petite. I didn’t even try them on – I just grabbed a size that was too big.


I followed the same procedure.


This time, when I tried them on, they were too long, so I took an extra two inches off the length. Same thing – line them up on the line and trim away with the rotary cutter.


Yep, just what I wanted.


It’s going to be really hard to not snatch up every pair of cords I find at the thrift store for the rest of the summer. I’ll try to leave a few for you.



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