Turning Long Pants into Shorts (and making it look good)

Oh my word, I have such a treat to share with you.  My newest sponsor, Kangaroo Care, is great little shop, filled with all sorts of natural and safe teething jewelry, which babies can yank on, chew on, and teeth on.  All parts are made with chemical free wood, untreated cotton thread (which they use to knit covers for the beads…..so cool), and lots of love!  Perfect for little hands and little teethers!  Also, Kangaroo Care also creates jewelry (and toys) for kids, which I love the look of!  And because it’s all made naturally, it’s completely safe for babies/children.  To top it off, shipping is crazy low.  I know 3 little kiddos (yeah, mine) who would all LOVE something from this shop.

. . . . .

Turning pants into shorts is nothing new.  I know.  (I’ve even done it before on this ‘ol blog.)  But sometimes we need a good reminder that we don’t have to go out and buy all new shorts for our kids (or even ourselves) for the warmer weather.  Okay, maybe I’m the only one that needed the reminder. 

So I recently dug through all my kids pants and set them in a pile……..and turned them all into shorts.  It was an instant wardrobe update for my little ones.  (Okay, and I also bought a pair of clearance pants that I changed into shorts.  Now is the time to buy pants for really cheap.)  Do you need to hurry and do the same thing?  I bet your kids have outgrown many pairs of pants and maybe you were planning on donating them?  Wait!  Don’t donate!!  (ha…..that sounds horrible!)  But keep them and make those little pants last another season.  And then thank yourself for saving your budget some money.  (And then consider buying a new purse with all that saved money.  Because who doesn’t need a new purse for spring?!)

And here are my 2 preferred methods as of late.  The double hem for a cleaner (and more store bought) look or the frayed and weathered look.  Both are great and are quick fixes.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

I can’t help but love this weathered and cutoff jean look.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Even though some may cringe at the sloppy cutoff style……I kinda love it.  You know adding frayed sections to your clothing goes against all traditional sewing rules, so don’t tell your mothers/grandmothers that I purposely damaged the fabric.  Eeeeek, she’ll want to try and help me mend them.  (Because I think my mom sort of flinched when I told her I put those frayed spots there on purpose.)

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Cutoffs always seem to come back into style.  Maybe because all it takes is one little whack, and your old jeans still have some life in them.  Thank goodness!

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Love them.  (and that kid!)

However, if you want to keep things a little cleaner……..how about making your alterations look store bought.  And add a double hem.  (Don’t be afraid……the double hem is super easy with a double needle.  And definitely something you want to try on your regular ‘ol sewing machine.)

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

And after sewing them and giving them a good press, they look like they came from the store that way.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

I’m sure you have mounds of long pants with holes in the knees, maybe some pants that are outgrown in length and are now high-waters, or hand me downs that are just now fitting but it’s the wrong season to wear them.  Don’t get rid of them…….use them!

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

And then marvel at your handiwork.  And your bigger bank account. ;)

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Need a refresher course in turning pants into shorts?

First of all, decide on the length that you want.  For boys, I like them around the knees or a little longer.  And since it’s early in the season, I want them to be long enough until the end of the summer.  So I went with “plenty long” in length.  The easiest way is to set a pair of shorts on top of your pants, that already fit your subject.  Then add an extra inch to that length and then cut.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Then fold that pant leg over to the other side and use it to cut the second side.  This will assure you that your pant legs are the same length.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Then, serge or zig-zag the raw edges.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Then, fold under each pant leg one inch, pin in place, and then look to see if they look straight and even.  Adjust if necessary.

Then pop in your double needle and use about a 3/4 inch seam allowance.  Remove the pins as you go……and remember that you can backstitch just like normal with the double needle.  (Need help with the double needle?  Click here.)  However, if you don’t have a double needle or don’t like using one……..just create 2 seams right next to each other, about 3/4 of an inch from the bottom.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

**As a side note, if you are sewing your 2 seams separately, go slowly and keep those lines and straight and as evenly spaced as you can.  Otherwise, it will look extra homemade if the lines are squiggly and all over the place.

Then iron flat.  Always iron.  It makes a world of difference.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

If you use the double needle, here’s what the other side will look like.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Now, onto those crazy frayed jeans. 

First, chop them off……right at the length you’d like them.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Then, reduce your stitching length a bit.  I lowered mine from about a 3 (which is the standard length on my machine) to a 1.5.  Using a smaller stitch at the bottom of the jeans will hold the fabric in place where you want it to and won’t allow it to fray past the seam that you make, after lots and lots of washing/drying.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Then stitch about a 1/4 inch (or less) from the bottom of the jeans.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Here’s your seam.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Now, for the fraying.  Grab some sand paper and start rubbing.  Here’s my tip though………only sand an area right to left.  That way, you’ll still have some of the base threads to cover the actual hole.  If you rub left to right, you are cutting through the vertical threads in the fabric, but the horizontal ones will stay intact.  So don’t go crazy……..you don’t want gaping holes.  Just keep rubbing until you get the look you want.  And remember, it will always fray more after you wash it.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

Then throw those jeans in the washer and dryer (you need to do both for optimal fraying) and that’s it.

Now you have some quick shorts for summer.

Enjoy.

Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This post is sponsored by:


Turning long pants into shorts (and making it look good)

66 Comments

I’ve been stocking up on pants in the clearance sections to make into shorts! Good think I haven’t yet, it’s cold today! If only there ways a way to make shorts into pants.

it’s only 10 degrees, so not that warm here in britain, but i love the idea. im definatly going to try it when it gets warmer. (if it gets warmer!)

I have just recently went through all of the kids clothes. I have a pile of pants that I am turning into shorts. I was actually just looking at them and trying to determine how I wanted to hem them….. thanks for the ideas!!

I saw a double needle in the store the other day and thought, “hum?” Thank you. Now I know what to do with my four year-old’s beloved camo pants with the hole in the knee. There’s no way they’ll fit next year, so a patch is out of the question.

Wow. Just trimmed MY just turned 5 year olds beloved camo pants with the hole in the knee! Please tell me your child’s name is Simon! That would be just too strange!

Too funny. We live parallel lives. It would be really weird if his name was Symon (spelled a little different like our names). But alas, he’s Dillon.

A double needle!! That’s how they do that….I need some sewing lessons obviously. Thanks for posting this!

awesome ideas. we live on a farm so i do this to chore pants. sometimes the pants fits in the waist but not the lenght so this is a wonderful idea.

Double needle question.
I bought a double needle, and have tried three different types of fabric (sweatpants, teeshirt type and then a regular cotton) and with all three, a top thread kept breaking. Any tips??

Any tips for making a rolled cuff on the frayed jeans for my girlie? And would this also work with skinny jeans?

I love it! I just did this about 3 days ago….I wish I had seen it before haha! But I have quiet a few pants I need to cut! Thanks!

Great idea, have a pair of trousers that I accidentially singed with the iron last week (thank goodness was on the bottom of the leg) and I noticed my son’s jeans were getting kinda short so bought him new ones today. Any ideas on how to make the waist smaller as his new jeans fit him in length but kind of big on the waist – wish I had the same problem, lol.

i have done this with my jeans :) here are a couple of pics

this is how they look
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h168/dinosaurkatie/make%20pants%20waist%20smaller/DSCF0559.jpg

and this is the inside
http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h168/dinosaurkatie/make%20pants%20waist%20smaller/DSCF0561.jpg

basically just see how much you need to take in and divide in half. then make a V with chalk behind the pocket and go all the way up and sew the sides of the V together. do this on both sides. and you’re done! :)

oh, and when they start getting smaller on his waist, just seam rip it right out for more room :)

You had to make the worn spots yourself? Sheesh. My 6 yr old daughter does that to her pants just by wearing them. I have to mend her pants or I’d be buying new pants every month. Sometimes I wonder if she even walks on her feet, then I look at the shoes I bought her 3 months ago that she has worn a hole through the toe. And I don’t mean her foot has grown so much that the toe has worn through, she has just worn a hole through the toe.

the shorts look really cute on your little guy though!

Oh, Ashley, I have infinity pair of pants for myself and Paige to do this for. I love how easy it is! And you’re so right-the double hem looks fantastic! :O)

Thanks for this post. I have been trying to find maternity shorts at local consignment stores and can only seem to find pants! I am definitively going back and buying the pants and cutting them into shorts! Thanks for showing me how!

cutoffs really never go out of style! You did a great job too! It’s old news but I made one of those ruffle shrugs you had a tutorial for from a long time ago. My little girl looked so cute in it with her Easter dress, her Grandma had to make two more just like it for the other cousins! what a hit! You come up with the cutest things and your tutorials are easy to follow. Thanks!

Dear Ashley

Please don’t think basic refreshers aren’t worth posting I’m about to become a beginner (getting my first sewing machine this weekend) and it’s blogs like this that make me believe in myself. You give me the confidence to try. Keep post the basic and the harder things and we will all keep appreciating every one of them.

Thanks from Lillian in PA

I love this!! Perfect also for getting the appropriate length shorts when you can’t find them! Both my girls are tall and thin and we always have trouble finding shorts that aren’t too short. Excellent post :)

you are so right on with this tutorial. i was looking to buy my little man some new shorts, i went to american eagle for kids (77) and i could not believe it?!?! every pair of jean shorts were cut off and hemed just like this- $25-32 a piece!!! so i just went to chopping off them bad boys and viola- new cool shorts!!!

While I admire the tutorial, I just have to say that you are so right. The first priority for money in spring is a new spring purse!! What is it about spring that makes me want a new purse? (My new purse was perfect for a trip, and cost $13 at Target, BTW). :-)

Thanks for the reminder. I needed it. Also makes a little more space in the full drawers if I don’t buy more!

Wow! I just discovered this website and it is amazing. These hand-made clothes look like they came from The Children’s Place or something!

You know, I have no idea why I never think to do this. Such a perfect idea considering winter was SO mild. I feel like the kids were only wearing long pants for a few weeks! Definitely going to do this.

Very good sewing tutorial! I’m searching for full one… Can anyone help me to find out similar tutorial which help me to sew full jeans pent for boy.

So now all you have to do is come up with a great tutorial on how to use the cut-off pieces of the pants to make something fabulous. I always hate throwing away them away, but there never seems to be a good use for them.

I was at a yard sale today and found two pairs of lightweight plaid pants and thought they were kind of cute but not really sold on them. Then I remembered this post and I know they will make great shorts for my little girl in a couple of years. Thanks for the great reminder on repurposing!

thanks for the reminder. i’ll look for cheap pants. i had to turn my 3yr old sweat into shorts because of the holes. they don’t look as great as yours, but that’s ok. he doesn’t care.

I finally got around to doing this. I seem to be really unlucky with needles (I break them all the time). About 3 inches from finishing my first pair of shorts, I broke my double needle. Urgh! I used a regular needle for the second pair, using the foot as a guide for the second seam. They came out perfectly. I showed my husband and he didn’t even understand what I was having him look at because he thought I just bought the shorts. Yay! My five year-old is wearing them today!

Thanks for the tutorial. I used them on a pair of my jeans that had some spots around the cuffs and were wearing out. I now have capris. :) And I bought a new pair of summer shoes instead. I think the “capris” aren’t hitting quite right, so I’m going to make them into shorts in a couple weeks as it gets hotter. I’m sure I’ll use this technique on my girls’ clothes, too, but I enjoyed the benefits of my first try.

I used to do this a lot when my first son was your sons age. Now he’s 16 and doesn’t think it’s cool anymore. My 7 yr. old on the other hand, thought I was ‘awesome’ (well, at least for now) when I turned his favorite pant with the holes in the knee to a short.

I never even thought about this and now I’m mourning the pair of GAP grey chinos my friend gave me for my kid that had a hole in the knee and I threw away! Hopefully I won’t ruin my karma because I am hoping to go to our Sally Ann to find some jeans for myself that I can turn into shorts. Thank you so much for this tutorial.

If you cut jeans really short, Be sure you are cutting so the hem will be straight across the thigh. At knee length or mid thigh, it is easy to keep it straight, but when it gets shorter (for girls mostly) you want to be certain they don’t slant up. I have also seen shorts that have the pocket hanging out—ewwwwww! Don’t go that short!

Comments are closed.