How To: Make Cutoff Shorts

Its happened to all of us.  We walk into a store, and find the PERFECT pair of cutoff shorts, they are the perfect length, are distressed just the right amount, and fit like a glove.  You are just about to checkout when you glance at the price tag… 50.00$… umm, no.

how to make cutoff shorts

Hey Everyone,

Today I am going to be sharing how to make your own cutoff shorts.  Cutoff shorts are something every girl needs in her wardrobe; however, it’s hard to find a pair that are both affordable, and look good.  That is why I am going to be sharing how to make your own cutoff shorts without breaking the bank.

For my senior project a little over a year ago, I decided to make a line of cutoff and distressed shorts, and ever since I have been extremely reluctant buying them from stores.  Making your own shorts may seem intimidating; but I promise, it is much easier than you think.  Plus, you can have so much fun with it!  It will take a little bit of patience, but the great thing is that you can customize your shorts to your individual style.

 Starting Product


                                     Ending Product






distressed cutoff shorts












The first thing you have to do is find a pair of old pants.  You can use a pair that you already own, or you can hit the thrift shops, and pick up a pair for a few dollars.  I found that it works best if you use boy’s or men’s pants, that way they will be high-waisted, and are a thicker material (making them better for bleaching).  However, if you don’t want high-waisted, stick with women’s pants/shorts.

Once you find the perfect pair, it is time to cut them to your desired length.  You can do this using a pair of sewing scissors, or you can use a rotary cutter like I did.  Make the initial cut longer than you want them, and keep trimming them until you get your desired length.  In order to get the perfect length, try them on and make pencil marks where you want them to hit.  You can also use your favorite pair of shorts as a guide.  Some other things to think about while cutting your shorts are that in order for them to lay right, the inseam should be longer than the outer edges of your shorts.  Also, make sure to cut them a bit longer than you want them to be because once you distress them, they will get shorter.


how to make cutoff shorts how to make cutoff shorts how to make cutoff shorts


After your shorts have been cut down to your desired length, you can start distressing them.  In order to distress your shorts, mark where you want your rips to be, and use sewing scissors to cut two horizontal lines marking the top, and the bottom of the rip.  then use the inside of a pair of scissors to roughen up the edges.  In order to get a distinct rip with a run-like effect you have to use a pair of tweezers to pull out the vertical threads.  If you choose to do this, I recommend doing it while watching TV, or talking to a friend, because it will take a while.  However, once you are past that step, all you have to do is roughen up the bottom edge of your shorts with a pair of scissors, and it is time to bleach.


how to bleach shortsbleaching shorts


The amount of bleach you use, and how long you leave your shorts in the bleach, will vary depending on what effect you are going for.  However, the most important thing to remember while using bleach is to wear gloves, and to always bleach outside.  Trust me, you DO NOT want bleach fumes in your house.  Also, try to bleach while it is sunny, because the natural sunlight will make the process go faster.  The bleaching process will occur pretty quickly, so I recommend keeping a constant eye on your shorts.  In my experience,  this process took no longer than forty minutes depending on the color of my jeans, and how diluted the bleach was.  Also, if you leave your shorts in the bleach for too long, your shorts will turn yellow and fall apart (trust me, I know).

When I first started bleaching my shorts, I literally had no idea how they would turn out, so I  just experimented with a bunch of different methods.  You can…

-use a  spray bottle, and spray it on

-fill a tray with diluted bleach and put the bottom half of your shorts in for an ombre effect

-pour splashes of bleach directly on your shorts to get a splattered effect

…or any variation of the above.  Just have fun with it!


spraying on bleachpouring on bleach


Once you have your desired effect, rinse your shorts out immediately.  You can rinse them out with a hose or in a laundry room sink, anywhere that you don’t mind bleach getting near.  After rinsing them thoroughly, put them in the dryer; this will help break down the pant  fibers, making your shorts look more distressed.  This could be your final step, or you can go further, and add studs.  I purchased my studs on Amazon, but I am sure they are available at crafts stores as well.

And that’s it!

Let me know whether you have ever made your own shorts; and if you have, how did they turn out?





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Written by Angela

Hey Everyone, I'm Angela... an average girl who loves fashion, family, friends, fitness, and fun! Hungry for more? Read my About page! Also, don't hesitate to email me at

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