How to Cut Denim

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Turn your denim jeans into shorts.
Turn your denim jeans into shorts. (Image: Dark blue jeans texture, jeans pocket image by Antalia from Fotolia.com)

Rather than let old denim jean pants go to waste, you can cut the denim pants to make shorts. Cutting denim and sewing, when necessary, allows you to transform one denim creation into another fashionable item. Cutting denim can be a little tricky because it is a thick material. Since denim jeans already have a seam, it can be hard to cut through this portion of the jeans as well, so you have to make each of the cuts carefully.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Marking chalk
  • Scissors

Place the jeans on a flat work surface. Smooth the fabric out with your hands so that all of the wrinkles and folds are out of the jeans.

Measure from the waistband of the jeans down the right leg to the length you want the shorts to be. Mark the length with the chalk. Measure and mark the length of the left leg of the jeans as well.

Hold the jeans in place with one hand while you carefully cut with the scissors along the chalk line. It is easier to cut denim if you hold the denim as taut as possible while you cut. Cut the left leg of the jeans off and then cut the right leg of the jeans off.

Tips & Warnings

  • To fray the bottom of the shorts along the cut mark, run the jeans through a couple of wash and dry cycles in your washing machine and dryer.
  • If you prefer a finished edge on the leg of the denim shorts, cut the length of each leg long enough to accommodate folding the shorts in about 1 inch, and then sew a seam to hold the fold in place. You should use a color thread that matches the threading in the side seams of the denim jeans so the new seam matches the old seams.
  • Choose worn denim jeans that are softer than new denim. Softer and older denim is easier to cut than stiff, newer denim.
  • You can also use pieces or strips of the denim to create other fashion items or craft projects. Sewing enthusiasts have turned denim fabric pieces into bikini bathing suits. Crafters have also turned strips of denim into braided denim rugs to decorate a room in a home or office.
  • If your project is more involved than turning denim jeans into denim shorts, then you made need additional materials, such as a sewing machine or needle and thread.

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