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How To Turn Jeans Into Shorts (…with lace, trim, and embellishments!)

Wow.  So much has been happening this summer…..well, actually the past 8 months, really.  (Maybe even a full year. Sigh.) I don’t even know if anyone will even see this note up here at the top of this post, but I’d have to say that 2018 has been the year of regaining my health, so other things have been a little scarce while I figured things out.  But, I’m so happy to say that after seeing many specialists and working hard to level things out for most of this year; my body has started feeling alive again, I’ve dropped a very large amount of weight with a specific eating plan (uggh, such a big contributor to feeling so cruddy), and now I’m feeling more like the old me again!  I know blogs have changed so much in the past few years and aren’t as personal anymore (yes, I’m still sad about that!)…but I’m kinda old school and still tend to want to share what’s going on behind the scenes of this ol’ blog!  Anyway, maybe I’ll chat more about this in a whole other post, especially if someone is going through the same thing (or maybe not, I don’t want to bore anyone to tears, ha!)….but just wanted to update you on where the heck I’ve been!!!  I’ve missed you guys! :)

. . . . .

Okay, onto the good stuff.  Which is something that I’ve been wanting to share for weeks, but better late then never, right?!?!

After the kids got out of school a couple months ago, I gathered up all their old jeans that were too short (or had holes in the knees) and decided that instead of tossing/donating them, I wanted to cut them off and share How To Turn Jeans Into Shorts…with lace, trim, and embellishments!

And let me tell you… old jeans a second life as a pair of shorts is very satisfying!  Especially when you get to choose the length of shorts that are being worn by your little girls!  (Some of the itty bitty little shorts being sold for young girls right now, makes my heart hurt a little.)

There are so many design options and ideas….but here’s what I did with ours:

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And yes, I know I’m sharing this in August and summer is nearing the end, but maybe there are plenty of you who still have a hot August and September (or even October like we do here in Oklahoma)….and would love to turn some old jeans that you’ve stashed away, into something useful!

Chloe and Ellie have sure gotten tons of use out of these shorts this summer! (That I’m now finally sharing….ack!)

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The fun thing about turning your jeans into shorts though, is that you really could add anything to them.  The flowers on these shorts is just cut out from some scrap fabric…..but really makes these shorts so much fun!

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And Ellie (who is 11 now and about to start middle school…..(((gasp))) ), likes things to look a little more “grown up” these days, so she thought this lace was a great idea!  (Is lace more “grown up”??  I don’t know, haha….but she seemed to think it was!)

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The lace really turned out so sweet though….and only took a few minutes to attach!

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Another idea that could go so many different ways, is cutting shapes out of your old jeans and then letting that fray as you wash/dry again and again.  These hearts are kinda perfect for our little sassy pants Chloe!

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And I’ll admit, not having to buy a bunch of shorts for hotter weather is definitely a perk!

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Want to see how to turn jeans into shorts??

Okay, let’s do it…

SUPPLIES for How To Turn Jeans Into Shorts (with embellishments):

  • old jeans
  • embellishments (fabric scraps, lace, trim, etc.)
  • Fusible Adhesive (Find it HERE.  And more about what it is HERE.)
  • Sewing Supplies (here’s a list of my favorite sewing supplies, in case you need a few ideas) 

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

Time to gather up those old jeans and get ready to turn them into something really great!

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This first style is just made from cutting shapes out of your jean scraps….and really, it could be whatever shape you want….I just made hearts.  I placed the bottom heart and the little top one on the left face down, to give it some color variation.

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Once you decide on placement, stitch around each shape, starting with the bottom one first…..about 1/4 inch from the edge.  (I ended up stitching a second line of stitching right next to the first, about 1/8 inch from the edge, so the edge wouldn’t be too floppy.)

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Then, fold up the bottom edge 3/4 to 1 inch and sew in place with a double needle so that it will still stretch. (More on using a double needle HERE.)  Or you could use a zig-zag to allow for stretch too.

Then, toss your jeans in the washer and dryer to help fray all the edges.

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That’s it….and they’re ready to wear!!!

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This next style is made by cutting off your jeans at your desired leg, folding up the hem, and hemming them with a single stitch because these jeans didn’t have much stretch to them… it wasn’t super important to use a zig-zag stitch or use a double needle to allow for stretch.  (I also washed these before hemming them, to fray them first.)

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Next, you can cut pieces of any type of fabric and in any shape you want.  But I just kept it really simple and cut around some floral shapes in some fabric scraps I had.  Then, I ironed on some fusible adhesive to the back side of the fabric and then peeled off the paper backing.  (More about fusible adhesive HERE.)

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Then place your fabric onto your jeans (fusible side face down) and iron in place according to the package.  Then zig-zag around all the edges to secure the fabric in place.

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And that’s it……cute, huh?!!

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This last style is all about the lace.  First I cut some lace pieces and pinned them to the back pockets.

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Then I stitched around the edges with a zig-zag stitch. (Doing this makes the pockets unusable….but who needs ’em anyway!!)

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Along the bottom edge of the jeans, I added some thicker lace by overlapping it onto the raw edge of the jeans by about 1/4 inch and stitched along the top edge.  (Start at the inner thigh seam, to keep the ends hidden.)

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Once you almost make your way around the entire pant leg, fold the end of the lace under about 1/2 inch, overlap onto the first end about an inch, and then continue sewing the rest of the way.

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Repeat with the other pant leg.

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And that’s it…..this last style is ready to be worn!!

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Pretty easy to do…..and only takes a few minutes!




Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner 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 my 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!
How to turn jeans into shorts (…with lace, trim, and embellishments!)
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  1. Cindy says:

    I have missed you! And I have prayed for you, too!!!

  2. Hannah B says:

    I have missed your personal stories on the blog! But when I come snoop and you have not posted I think, “Good. Ashley is putting her life before her blog. Good lady!” You do what you need to heal, and we will all be patient for your personal updates, or wish you well as you enter another season of life!

  3. Christel says:

    Hi Ashley,.

    Your blog is my fave of all I follow because of your style. I love reading about how you come up with ideas and seeing your family grow. Don’t change what you are doing!

    Glad to hear you are feeling better.


  4. Kristie says:

    Super cute! I also HATE how short the RTW shorts are for little girls. I don’t love it for my girls. Thanks for sharing these simple embellishments!

  5. Nancy Gross says:

    Thanks for sharing and I’m glad to see you’re back. These ideas are great and so cute! I can’t believe how fast your girls are growing up, wow! Welcome back!

  6. Robin D says:

    Glad to hear you are feeling better. Missed you.

  7. Corrine says:

    So happy to see you again! And please don’t change your blogging style. We all love it! Your “real-ness” is what makes you so influential. Please share your health story. I’m at the very beginning of my journey back to my old self and would love to be inspired by your success and learn what has worked for you!

  8. Laura Chipman says:

    I love hearing from you and am so glad that you are starting to feel better. When you add embellishments do you have an extra skinny sewing arm or something that helps get the skinny legs to the needle? I was wondering if you have any tips for doing that. Thanks in advance!

  9. katiasafia says:

    great work beautiful

  10. Adriann says:

    I actually made a pair of cutoffs for my daughter with the same (or very similar) lace trim on the bottom. BUT when we washed them the trim curled into a ball and would not stay down. Did yours do that? Do you have to iron them every time you wash? Or do you have a solution for me??

  11. Nafiseh says:

    Dear Ashley,

    So cute jeans and so adorable girls. Thanks alot for sharing with us…

  12. Charlotte says:

    So excited to see you are back blogging! Would love to hear about your health journey, if you’re open to sharing.

  13. Ellen says:

    Sorry to hear things have been tough this year, but glad you are on the mend. Love your blog and your awesome ideas. And I’m glad you still keep things personal! Good luck with everything! Life is Good :)

  14. Kathy A says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. Wish more people were into making the most of what they have. Glad you’re feeling better and the girls are growing up so fast!! Very adorable!

  15. Beth says:

    I like the little personal update. I had been wondering how you are! I’ve been following your blog for years, and my sons (8 and 10) have benefited immensely from your creative brain and your willingness to share your ideas. In fact, I think it was this blog that gave me the courage to start sewing “real” patterns for my boys’ pants, which I still do today! I am glad to hear things are improving for you, and I hope you continue to feel well – or at least, better. :) Hugs from NY!

  16. sarah says:

    Glad you are back. I love your blog. glad you are feeling better as well

  17. Elisheba says:

    So glad you’re doing ok! I like your blogging style. Thanks for sharing with us!

  18. Marie says:

    Well if you’re An old school blogger- I’m an old school blog reader ? glad you are feeling better!

  19. Kim N says:

    So glad to see you back, Ashley, and sharing another of your cute, fun and easy projects with the rest of us! I have been praying for you while you have been away. Please continue to share what is going on in the lives of you and your beautiful family as well! You all have a special place in my heart.

  20. Ashley says:

    These are too cute! My little one is only 3 and not really wearing jeans just yet but I have this pinned for when she does! I am not a sewer (yet!) and appreciate all of your photos and links within the post on how to do each step. Your blog really gives me confidence to start sewing!

  21. Pat Skelton says:

    Glad you are feeling better? !!
    Missed you!
    Great job with the shorts- I have done similar with Grandkids jeans. Wish I knew more when my own girls were young !
    Pat – Gramma from Ksnsas

  22. Louise says:

    Glad your back, enjoy reading your blog for all the useful sewing tips, beautiful pictures of your family and projects, like keepi g in touch with an old friend. Take care of your health.

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Hi, I'm Ashley

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

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