Turn old jeans into fun summer shorts

I have been seeing these amazing colorful shorts for the summer all over the place. The marigold Citizens of Humanity Manic Cheeky shorts pictured above are available for $158 and the alice + olivia neon pink Cady Cuff shorts run at $165, both are available at shopbop.com. There are plenty of cheaper stores carrying these fun cutoff shorts, but I thought I could put together a fun DIY and spend less than $5 on making them myself.

Summer shorts

What You’ll Need:

  • Old pair of jeans or shorts
  • Bleach
  • Gloves
  • Wooden spoon
  • Large bucket or sink
  • Fabric dye (I used Rit dye in Fuschia)
  • Fabric marker
  • Scissors
  • Iron and ironing board or mat

The Process:

  1. Find an old pair of jeans or shorts that fit well. I used an old pair of skinny jeans from H&M that had a small hole in the knee.
  2. Fill a large bucket, sink or bathtub, with hot water, enough to cover the pants or shorts completely. You want to be sure that the container is large enough that the jeans or shorts can move around freely. Pour about three cups of bleach for every gallon into the water, then place the denim into the bleach water. Be sure to wear gloves and old clothes just in case you get any bleach on your clothing. Submerge every inch of the fabric into the water using the wooden spoon. Leave them in the water over night. Place the jeans into the washer to wash and rinse the bleach out of the fabric. If your jeans are not yet white, repeat the process until they reach a bright white. It took me about three days to get these jeans to turn white.

    Jeans in bleach
  3. Once the jeans are white, give them one final wash and dry and you are ready to cut them into shorts. Now, if you like them as jeans, you can dye them now and skip the entire cutting process. If you want to turn them into fun summer shorts, put the jeans on and make a small mark on the spot where you want to cut them on one side seam on one of the legs. Be sure not to cut too short or to cut the back pockets. If you want to make cuffed shorts, mark them a couple inches lower than where you want them to lay on you. I marked mine about two to three inches below the back pocket to be safe. If you want cutoffs, you don’t need to add the length, just be wary of the back pockets. Now you’re ready to cut!
  4. Take the jeans off and fold them in half lengthwise. Lay them on a flat surface and check and double check that there are no big wrinkles or folds. Place your scissors at the spot where you marked your jeans and begin cutting. Be sure to cut down at an angle, not straight across, otherwise you will cut off the crotch or it will be too short in the crotch area.Cutting the jeansTry your new shorts on! If they’re a little too long to your liking, cut a little more off the bottom. Remember to do little cuts at a time. You can always cut more off, but you can’t add more length if you cut them too short.
  5. Now for the really fun part, the dying process. Prepare your dyebath according to the instructions provided with the dye you purchased. I used the sink method. Follow the instructions that came with your dye on how to dye your new shorts, or jeans if you decided not to cut them. The longer you leave the fabric in the dye, the deeper the color you are going to get. Be sure to wear gloves and thoroughly clean your sink, bucket, bathtub, or washing machine and anything else you used to prepare your dyebath with bleach.Dyeing the shorts
  6. Place your new colorful shorts in the washing machine (be sure to thoroughly rinse any excess dye out of the fabric first) for one last wash cycle. Once they are dry, put on your new colorful summer shorts and enjoy! If you want to make them cuffed, iron about an inch of the bottom of the shorts up. If the cuff doesn’t want to stay up, take a needle and thread and thread the side seams up a little, or use fabric starch to keep them pressed.

    Cutoff shortsCuffed shortsYou like my sweet floral ironing board cover I got at WalMart? 😉

Ta daa! You now have an amazing pair of colorful shorts that cost less than $5! Please post pictures and let me know how your shorts turned out if you tried this DIY.

Carina Jaynes


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