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


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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.






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





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.)





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!



Love them.  (and that kid!)




However, if you want to keep things a little cleaner…… 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.)





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





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!





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




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.


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.


Then, serge or zig-zag the raw edges.


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.

**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.



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




Now, onto those crazy frayed jeans. 


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


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.


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


Here’s your seam.



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…… 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.



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.







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This post is sponsored by:


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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