How To Make Your Own Cutoffs--An Editor's Diary

An expert crafter I am not (legally, I probably shouldn’t be allowed to touch a glue gun), but I do love a good D.I.Y. project from time to time. That's why making denim cutoffs might be the perfect summer activity; they’re clearly a season essential—hello, Alexa—plus it's a great way to get new life out of jeans or transform an inexpensive vintage pair.

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    While most online tutorials simply tell you to pick a length and cut, I knew there was more to it than that. So with some Levi’s 501 jeans, scissors, a ruler, and chalk, I set out to create two shorts, one cuffed and one frayed—and I'm really thrilled with the results. Keep reading for the jorts secrets you need to know when making your own pair!

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    Frayed Shorts

    Let’s talk style and fit first. This is not a project for your stretchy skinny jeans, so leave those alone. I think that 100 percent cotton denim, like Levi’s 501 Jeans ($78), is your best bet. As for fit, go for a straight leg or boyfriend silhouette that is slightly baggy throughout the leg. 

    Levi’s 501 Jeans ($78) in Dark

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    Turn Inside Out

    That may sound odd, but you're going to mark them up with chalk and you need to see where the pockets are (you don't want to cut through them), so this is an essential step.

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    Measure

    Lay the jeans flat on a smooth surface and measure 12 inches along the outside edge, starting at the top of the waistband. Mark with chalk.

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    Mark

    Once you have your correct measurement, mark it with chalk. Using the ruler, create a dashed line across the pant leg, starting at the outer seam and moving inwards. I recommend angling the line downwards toward the inner seam to allow for an extra inch of length. This prevents the shorts from bunching along the inner thigh area and is ultimately more flattering.

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    Cut

    With a pair of sharp scissors, cut across the dash line with scissors. Repeat steps one through four on the other leg. 

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    Fray

    The finishing touch: frayed edges. Turn your shorts right side out and use a seam ripper or a needle to tear the seams along the hem (this will give them a naturally frayed look). If you want a more dramatic fray, throw your jorts in the washer and then dry on low heat.

     

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    Final Product

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    Cuffed Shorts

    Levi’s 501 Jeans ($78) in Sun Bleach

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    Turn Inside Out

    Again, you’ll want to turn your jeans inside out before starting. 

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    Measure

    Lay the jeans flat on a smooth surface and measure along the outside seam. It’s best to add two inches to your desired length to account for the cuff. I wanted a slightly longer look that hit mid-thigh, so I measured approximately 17 inches from the top of the waistband. For a shorter style, measure 15 inches. Once you have your correct measurement, mark it with chalk. (Note: another good way to determine your desired length is by putting on the jeans and marking the point where your middle finger hits the side of your leg.)

     

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    Mark

    Using the ruler and chalk, create a dashed line across the pant leg, starting at the outer seam and moving inwards. 

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    Cut

    Using a pair of sharp scissors, cut across the dash line. Repeat steps one through four on the other leg. 

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    Cuff

    Turn your shorts right side out and roll the bottom of each leg twice to create a clean cuff. 

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    Final Product

Shop this Story
501 Jeans in Sun Bleach

501 Jeans in Sun Bleach

Levi’s, $78
SHOP
501 Jeans in Dark

501 Jeans in Dark

Levi’s, $78
SHOP
EXPLORE: How To, How To, Levi's, Levi’s, jean shorts, cutoffs
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