DIY Shorts: How to get the perfect pair 

August 2023

three images cut off shortsthree images cut off shorts

What are DIY Shorts? 

DIY shorts are shorts you’ve made yourself from an old pair of jeans. Rather than buying a new pair of shorts, you can grab a pair of jeans you don’t wear anymore and cut them to size for the perfect pair of shorts. 


DIY shorts are a great way to get a well-fitting pair of shorts and get more wear out of an old pair of jeans. If you have jeans you don’t wear, you can turn them into shorts with our easy steps.  

What is the perfect length for shorts? 

Shorts are available in a few different lengths, but this style always finishes somewhere above the knee.  


There are a few standard lengths you might have come across when shopping for shorts: 


  • Short (2 to 3-inch inseam)
  • Midrange (3 to 5-inch inseam)
  • Bermudas (11 to 13-inch inseam)

The length of the shorts is measured from the inseam, which is usually the longest part of the shorts. For shorter styles, remember that the cut is typically diagonal  they’ll be longer down the inside of your thigh than they will down the outside. For longer shorts and men’s shorts, the cut is typically horizontal. 


The length of shorts is up to you – when cutting your own, you’re in total control. Midrange shorts are the most universally flattering, but if the jeans you’ve chosen fit you well on your waist and hips, any length will look great. 

girls wearing short jeans

How to cut jeans into shorts

The first step is choosing the jeans. It can be an old pair you don’t wear anymore, but make sure you’re happy with how they fit your waist and hips – that matters when it comes to shorts. 


What you need to turn jeans into shorts: 


An old pair of jeans


A ruler

Fabric scissors (not kitchen scissors)

A flat surface to work on


Decide on the length

Decide how long you want your shorts to be. To hem your shorts or roll them up, you’ll need to leave a bit of extra material. 

Mark with chalk 

Using chalk and a ruler, make a line on the jeans where you want the cut to be. This needs to be done in a diagonal line for shorter styles so that the outseam is slightly higher than the inseam. If you want the length of your shorts to go past your mid-thigh and towards the knee, a horizontal line will be fine. 

Cut the jeans on a flat surface

Lay your jeans on a flat surface. This will help you get an even cut on the front and back and keep the symmetry between the legs. Don’t try and cut the jeans while you’re wearing them! – you won’t get a straight line, and you might hurt yourself. Make your first cut longer than your desired length, and try your shorts on in between alterations to ensure you don’t cut off too much fabric. 

Jean to cutoff laydown gif

How to make distressed denim shorts

There are a few different techniques you can use to make DIY distressed denim shorts. All you need is chalk, tweezers, scissors or sandpaper. Before you start distressing your DIY shorts, practice on the discarded pieces of your denim jeans. 
Create a raw hemA great place to start with distressed shorts is to create a raw hem. Roll the denim by hand after cutting your jeans to let some of the threads out. To keep the material from unravelling too much, you might want to pop a stitch in the outseam. Or, for a frayed edge look, put your jeans in the washing machine on a regular cycle. 


Pull out threads with tweezers

Mark lines with chalk where you want to make the cuts. You can either do this on a flat surface or while wearing them to see exactly where the lines will be. Cut into the denim and pull out vertical blue threads with tweezers, leaving the white horizontal threads intact for the perfect vintage look.  

Use sandpaper

Rub the jeans with sandpaper. You don’t need to mark out a precise area for this. Be careful; once the threads start to come away, stop rubbing. Throw your jeans in the wash after this to get that fuzzy, worn-out look. You can brush up on distressing denim with easy steps to add your own details and make your shorts completely unique. 

Jean to cutoff laydown

 So, what are you waiting for? Grab that pair of jeans you never wear, some scissors and chalk. There’s no need to buy a new pair of shorts when it’s so easy to make your own, but you could always look at our women’s shorts for inspiration.