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DIY Chic: Distressed Denim Shorts


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Staying stylish on a budget can be a challenege, especially in College. That’s why DIY Chic is here to show you how to update your wardrobe without breaking the bank. If you are looking for more DIY inspiration, take a look at our past tutorials on making a multi-strand statement necklace, bow hair accessories, flower hair clips, a printed word scarf, transforming a pair of old jeans, recreating an old or thrifted item, or creating a pair of cap-toe flats or shortening a hemline.

Warm weather is here and no summer wardrobe is complete without a pair of denim shorts. Whether you wear this summer staple with a classic white tee or mix things up by opting for a high-waisted style, a good pair of cutoffs will carry you straight through summer.

If you’re still looking for that perfect pair of cutoffs, why not make your own? This week’s DIY introduces an inexpensive and easy way to create your own distressed denim shorts out of a pair of old jeans.

DIY high waisted denim shorts

What you’ll need:

  • An old pair of jeans. I found a super cheap pair of high-waisted jeans at my local thrift store.
  • Scissors, preferably those meant for fabric. You’ll need a high-quality pair since denim is usually so thick.
  • Sandpaper. Check out a local hardware store or even Target. You generally want a coarse, low-grit sandpaper to really distress your jeans.

The step-by-step process:

1. Figure out just how short you want your shorts to be. It’s easiest to lay a different pair of shorts you like over the top of the jeans to compare. Then, use a pen or some chalk to mark your length. I opted for about a 2 inch inseam.

2. Carefully make your cut. Denim is a thick fabric, so a good pair of fabric scissors is really going to help.

DIY high waisted distressed denim shorts: Steps 1 and 2

3. Once your shorts are cut, it’s time to rough them up. Using the sandpaper, begin distressing the edges of your shorts. You’ll want the fabric to begin to wear and fray. I folded a piece of my excess denim and wrapped the sandpaper around it for an easier grip. Do this over a shoe box or other surface that won’t be damaged.

DIY high waisted distressed denim shorts: Steps 3 and 4

4. Once you’ve worked the edges with your sandpaper, throw your shorts into the washer and dryer. This will finish the process and really give you that worn, distressed look. Check out the before (seen in step 4) and the finished product above.

And there you go! Denim cutoffs are definitely a summer staple, and as you can see, they’re incredibly easy to make. This project is a great way to recycle and repurpose an old pair of jeans – after all, what girl doesn’t have an old pair languishing in her closet? Be crafty and make your shorts this year instead of buying them!

What do you think?

Would you try creating your own pair of denim cutoffs? How do you style your shorts for summer? Do you have a do-it-yourself project you’d like to see on College Fashion in the future? Let us know in a comment!

Posted on on June 6, 2012 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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8 Responses to “DIY Chic: Distressed Denim Shorts”

  1. 1
    June 6th, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    I just wanted to say that skinny jeans do not work for cutoffs.

  2. 2
    June 6th, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    What a great idea!

    I’ve been looking for a good pair on high-waisted denim shorts but could never find any, so this post is great! I can’t wait to head to my local thrift store.

  3. 3
    June 6th, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I just did a DIY on this. You can also upgrade a distress denim shorts by changing the color through bleaching and dyeing. Better try on this one, its fun!

  4. 4
    June 6th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Oooooh! Thank you SO much for yoru ideas!!! The hard part is FINDING the pair of jeans that you want to cut! LOL. I want to try that, though! Thanx, girls, for the suggestions! :-)

  5. 5
    June 7th, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Any tips on finding a good pair at the thrift store? I try them on and never know how they should look before being cut.

  6. 6
    June 7th, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I love this post, I recently made denim cutoffs and they were awesome!

  7. 7
    June 7th, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    love this idea! i just made some last week, and here’s a tip: you don’t even need the sandpaper! putting them in the wash/dryer roughens them up!

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