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Cut-Off Jeans…with Fabric Hem and Side Knots

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Cut-Off Jeans…with Fabric Hem and Side Knots


I’m not trying to speed up spring at all….but since we now live in Oklahoma, the weather has gotten warmer so much faster than we’re used to.  And every time the kiddos dress themselves in the morning and come out with a long sleeve shirt when it’s 82 degrees (F) outside, it reminds me that I need to start “summer-izing” their clothing.


And I know I mentioned last week that my girls don’t really wear pants — they prefer skirts.  Well, I always buy them at least one pair of jeans each year (in case we go camping, are out late on a chilly evening, etc.) and they inevitably receive a few hand-me-down jeans from someone….so there are always a few pairs kicking around.  Well, when I was going through their drawers the other day, I realized none of the jeans they had actually fit anymore.  All of them were too short.  I asked Elli if she would wear them if I turned them into shorts this summer….but added a little bow or color of some sort to them.  She was excited about that and told me YES!  And Chloe will do whatever Elli does, so she agreed as well!


So, I whacked those jeans right off and turned them into Cut-Offs with a Fabric Hem and Side Knots!




Cut-Off jeans are so simple and are great for summer too (and we’ve done that in years past as well)…..but how much cuter are these with a little fabric around the bottom….and that darling knot!




I know you must have old jeans around your house too…..with those rascally holes in the knees. (Those are actually Connor’s jeans down below….because my girls don’t wear theirs enough times to get holes.)  Or maybe they are just too short.  Well — give them another life!




The bottom edge of the jeans is completely enclosed, so don’t worry about any fraying.  And those little side knots give the perfect little accent to the sides….with a tiny peep hole of skin.  (And I’ll show you how to tie the perfect knot down below….that always stays straight and perfect.  Every time.)




Perfect for summer…..or Oklahoma spring! ;)



The best part……all you need is a few scraps from your fabric stash.  A cheap fix!!!




According to Elli and Chloe, long jeans are a no.  And jean cut-offs (with some flair) are a yes.  These girls of mine sure crack me up! :)




Want to fancy up your jeans??


Of course you do!




  • An old pair of jeans to cut off
  • Cotton Fabric scraps (amount depends on the size you’re making
  • measuring tape

***Check out my Sewing Terms 101 post, for additional help.


***Okay, first of all, there’s probably several ways to do this….but here’s why I chose this method.  Ultimately, you can just attach fabric to the very bottom edge of the jeans and call it good.  But, I really wanted to sandwich the fabric around the bottom edge of the jeans, so that it would keep all the raw edges enclosed, but ALSO, so that there was a layer of jeans between the fabric to keep it thick and sturdy.  If I only attached the fabric to the bottom edge and kind  of let the fabric hand down from there, I was worried the fabric would wrinkle or get smashed every time it was washed/worn/etc. (And they’re just play clothes, so I didn’t want to have to worry about maintenance.)  And then the side section is folded up and sewn, so that the ties have room to be knotted at the sides of the jeans.  (And also so there’s no frayed edge.)  This will all make more sense as you read on….but, just wanted to share what’s going on inside my head! :)


Okay, before cutting anything, have your subject try on the jeans and mark with a pin exactly where you want them cut off.  Feel for the top of the knee and decide from there.  (You don’t really need a pin on both sides….because you’ll be using the one cut leg to measure and cut the other.)  But you can make these as long or as short as you want.  Perfect! :)



Now, as a reference, this is the left pant leg that I’m working on below.


From the desired pant leg length (where your pin should be, but I removed mine in the pic below), measure down one inch on the OUTER LEG SIDE SEAM.  Then, make a cut over to the right, 1 1/4 inches.  Then, cut up 1 inch.  Then, cut off the rest of the pant leg off, right at the desired length (where your pin was originally).



Now, if you need some idea of what to do with those pant legs…’s 35 denim projects that I shared over the weekend.  SO many fun things to make with old denim scraps!



Now, back to the pant leg.  From that inner corner where that extra flap meets the desired pant leg length, make a 1 inch cut, straight up.  Repeat  all steps on the other pant leg.



Now, turn the pants inside out.  Fold up the flap on one of the pant legs 1 inch…



…then fold it up 1 more inch.  Pin in place.



Then sew in place.  (I used white on this side to show you the seam but navy on the other side so that it wouldn’t be noticeable.)  Repeat with the other leg.



Now, I know your pants won’t look like the image below but I just want to be clear that you now need to measure the entire width of the pant leg, right at the very bottom near the desired length.  Write down that number.



Now, you need to figure out how much fabric to cut.


So take the number you measured above and multiply it by 2.  Then add 11 inches to that number.  That is the LENGTH of the fabric strip you’ll be needing.  The WIDTH of the strips will be 5 inches.  (If you change the width of the strip, you’ll need to adjust the cuts in the pants.)  Cut 2 strips the exact same size.

***For example:  Elli’s pant leg was 6 1/4 inches wide.  So, 6 1/2 x 2 = 13.  And then 13 +11 = 24  So, I cut two strips for her, that were 24 x 5 inches.



Now, fold the ends of both strip over 1/2 inch, WRONG sides together.



Now, take one strip and turn it into the same type folds as double folded bias tape.  (More on bias tape here.)  Fold it in half lengthwise, with WRONG sides together.  Iron flat.  Then, open it up and fold both edges in toward that center fold. Iron again.  Then close it up again, along that original fold…and iron again.



This is how your folded strip should look.



Now, open up each end and fold the bottom corners up towards the center line, creating a pointed end.  Iron flat.



Then close and iron flat again.



Now, let’s attach your strip.


Fold one of the strips in half and mark with a pin.  Then make sure that the OUTER LEG SIDE SEAM (which is on the left down below), is folded right along the seam.  Then flatten the pant leg and make sure there’s no bunching in the back, and place a pin along the INNER LEG (on the right side down below).  It won’t be right along the inner seam because jeans are generally wider along the back to give room for the bum, and then they gradually become the same width as you reach the bottom of the pant leg.



Now, open up your fabric and slide under the pant leg, matching up your pins.



Close your fabric, sandwiching it around the edge of the pant leg. Pin in place.



Continue sandwiching the fabric around the bottom of the pant leg and add more pins as you go.



Once you reach the portion of the side of the pant leg that is hemmed up, stop pinning.  Repeat with the other pant leg.



Now, it’s easier to sew the next part if you turn the pants inside out.


Slide the pant leg under the presser foot of your machine and begin sewing along the INNER LEG SIDE SEAM.  Sew through all the layers (fabric on top, jeans in the middle, more fabric on bottom) top-stitching about 1/8 of an inch from the upper edge of the fabric.  Remove pins as you go.



Continue sewing until you get about an inch away from the hemmed section of the jeans.



Since the folded over fabric folds over 1 1/4 inches and the cut in the jean is only 1 inch, the fabric should fold over taller than the hem.  Adjust your fabric so that this is so…..and then locate a spot about 1/4 inch onto the folded fabric.  Once you fold over the fabric, this is how far you’ll sew….just to be sure all of the raw edges are hidden within the seams.



Fold over the fabric back in to place, still keeping an eye on that spot that you located in the step above.  (You can place a pin there if that helps.)



Continue sewing until you reach that spot.  Then stop and keep your needle down in the fabric.



Lift up your presser foot and move the jeans over to the left and out of the way.  It’s okay if the jeans pucker up a bit….but keep the fabric nice and flat, and still lined up straight in front of you.



Continue sewing the edge of the fabric shut, 1/8 inch from the edge, and away from the jeans.  Continue sewing the rest of the fabric strip.



Once you reach the end, rotate your fabric and continue sewing the bottom of the strip, along the diagonal edge.



Now, rotate your jeans to the other side of the presser foot, so you can sew the other half of the pant leg the exact same way.



Now you should have one pant leg complete.  Repeat with the other pant leg.


Not so bad, right??


Okay, moving on…



When I was in college, I had a summer job at Ann Taylor Loft.  There was a pair of capris for sale that summer, that had a belt sash that needed to be tied at the waist.  The lady training me showed me how to create the perfect knot, so that each tail of the knot was even and hung the same way.  And the fabric from the center knot was flat, non-twisted, and non-bulky.  I’ve remembered it ever since….and it’s works like charm!


And yeah, it doesn’t really matter how you the tie the knot on each leg….but if you want to tie the PERFECT KNOT, here’s what I learned.


Cross the right side over the left…



Then tuck the left side behind and up through the top…



…then bring that left side down so that both ends are pointing down.  Pull on the left side so that it’s slightly longer.



Then cross it over to the right side…



…and then pull that right side around the back of the other tie, over to the left side.



…..and then up and through the hole of the fabric loop you made and pull it through.  Just be sure to keep the fabric in the center (that is becoming your knot) flat and straight up and down.



Then, continue pulling both ends straight out, right and left.  You can leave it loose for a big chunky center knot….or tighten it to make the ends longer and the knot a little smaller.





A perfect knot EVERY time!!!



Now, go enjoy your new cut-off jeans!



. . . . . .

Looking for other ways to use up old jeans?  Check out these 35 Denim Projects made from Old Jeans.

Or how about these 25 Modern Quilting Ideas…  So fun!

Cut-Off Jeans…with Fabric Hem and Side Knots

Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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