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

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!

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 per cent 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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

 

Final Product
Cuffed Shorts

Levi’s 501 Jeans ($78) in Sun Bleach

Turn Inside Out

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

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.)

 

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

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

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

Final Product