DIY: Transforming Old Jeans to Trendy Shorts (2 Ways!)

Recently, I took a trip to Goodwill with two of my besties: Anna and Alice. We were on a mission. We wanted to find a couple pairs of thrifted jeans, cut them into shorts and make them our own. For $5 we each had a new pair of one-of-a-kind shorts! I had so much fun making mine, and I documented the process with my iPhone along the way! Read on to find out how I created them, and what the final look was.

I ended up with two pairs of shorts. For the first pair I used lace and studs to decorate with. Here’s how they turned out!

To do this is pretty simple. All you need is fabric glue, a few studs, lace trim, scissors and pliers. I started with the lace; once you’ve cut your jeans into shorts, cuff them. Next, measure alongside the bottom of each pant leg how much lace you’ll need to cover the hem and cut. Take your fabric glue and create a line the width of the lace trim on the jeans. Lastly, carefully align the lace into its proper spot. Repeat this to the other pant leg and on the backside as well.

Make sure you allow time for the glue to dry before adding the studs. I purchased my studs from Hobby Lobby for about $1.50. All you do is poke them through the fabric in the desired place and use pliers to bend back the two ends poking up to clasp. Wallah! You’re all done!

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The next pair was a little more complicated and took some time. I ended up dip-dyeing them, fraying the ends, and distressing them. To dip-dye you’ll need: a bucket, bleach, water, vinegar, a sink, disposable gloves and a ruler.

Fill your bucket with two parts water to one part bleach. You want to fill it to the height you want the solution to touch your shorts. So if you only want it halfway bleached, align your shorts to the bucket to make sure the solution is leveled to your desired height.

String the ruler (I used a rod I found) through the back loop holes of the shorts. The ruler acts as a way for the shorts to balance on the bucket and soak in the solution. Let the shorts soak for 20-30 minutes or until it gets to the shade you want (keep in mind the colors will darken when wet).

While it’s soaking fill the sink with two parts water to one part vinegar. After you get the color you’re looking for, transfer the shorts into the sink. The vinegar will actually stop the bleaching process so your shorts will stay your desired shade. Let them soak for 5-10 minutes. Once that’s done, wring them out and let them dry completely.

Now it’s time for the fraying process! You’ll need a pair of scissors and tweezers. Create about three, 1/2 inch slits on the bottoms of each pant leg making sure to space them out. Next, you’ll want to take your tweezers and start pulling at the areas around the tear. You’ll start to see the threads. Continue the fraying process on both pant legs and on the back. It should look like this (this is after they were washed, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look quite like this right away, it will have a more finished look after it’s washed!): 

After I was done with this step, the shorts still didn’t look finished. I happened to have another pair of denim shorts that I bought that were distressed beside me. I looked to those for a guideline on where to put my rips and tears and how to create them. I found out there are two ways you can do this.

  1. Pinch front layer of fabric on one pant leg and snip to create a hole. Continue to cut so you have an actual circle and not a line. Then, use the tweezers to pull the threads all the way around the circle. 
  2. Another way to create the distressed look is to take a knife or a pair of sharp scissors to basically saw back and worth for a while until you break the fabric. Keep going down however big it is you want this area to be distressed. This will create a hole, but with the threads going from one end to the other and not having a physical hole in the middle. The very last step is to throw these babies into the washer and dryer to get the finished look! I love the way mine turned out!! Which style do you prefer? The lace and studs pair or the distressed dip-dyed ones? I’d love to know!

    I wore these ones today! I’ll have to wear the lace and studded one tomorrow :)

Here are some of the shorts my friends made!

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