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How to Make DIY Denim Cut-Offs - Totally Green Crafts

How to Make DIY Denim Cut-Offs

Denim cut-offs, or jean shorts, or jorts (if you like) are a classic warm-weather wardrobe staple. They are comfortable and go with anything. 

They are also super easy to make yourself. Don’t throw away that damaged pair of jeans thinking you can’t wear them anymore. You can easily turn those jeans into cut-offs all by yourself.

And we’re going to tell you how! Here’s our easy step by step guide to making DIY denim cut-offs.


Step 1: Choose Your Style

Before you even pick up the scissors, you need to decide on the length and style of your denim cut-offs. There are quite a few different ways of styling your denim cut-offs, but we’re going to give you the steps for the most basic styles. 

You may need to alter the process if, for example, you want them to be a bit baggier or want a different kind of fit. But, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably new to this sort of crafting so we’ll keep things simple. 

Step 2: Measure and Mark the Length

Once you have decided on your style, you need to measure the jeans. If you’re going for a messy, frayed edge then mark the length exactly where you want the cut-offs to end.

If you want a neater, folded edge then you’re going to need to mark the length about two inches longer than they will actually be.

This is so you will have enough fabric to fold up the ends twice. This will give the neat, structured line and style.

Step 3: Cutting the Cut-Offs

Once you have marked the length, it’s time to get cutting.

Lay the jeans completely flat and cut along the line that you have marked out.

Take your time and don’t cut too harshly or roughly. If you do, you might accidentally move the fabric and make a mistake.

Step 4: Hemming

If you have chosen the messy, frayed look then this step isn’t necessary.

If you want them to be even messier, pull on the white strands of thread that are hanging from the cut edges of the cut-offs.

This will pull out some of the thread and make the edges more frayed, without ruining the overall weave.

If you have gone for a neater, folded look then there are a few more simple steps to go through.

Folding the hem is easy. Fold the end up about an inch towards the waistline. Then repeat this so that the messy hem is now tucked into the folds. 

If you want, you can leave the cut-offs like that. But it’s a good idea to add a couple of stitches on the outer and inner seams. You don’t need to hem the edges all the way around. 

This will change the shape of the cut-offs and they won’t sit properly. But adding a couple of stitches on either side will keep them from unfolding (and keep you from having to constantly fold them back up every five minutes).

Top Tips

Before you get to making your jeans, read through these tips and tricks so you can make sure your cut-offs are just how you want them.

(There’s also some info on how to avoid some common mistakes)

  • If you’re not confident that you will be able to cut in a straight line, don’t worry too much. If you’re going for a frayed look then the messy edges will just be part of it. Even still, if you want a neater look, any mishaps or bad cuts will be hidden in the folds.

If you really want to make a neat straight line, then you can either use a pencil (or preferably some tailor’s chalk that will rub or wash off) to draw a line across the jeans. This will give you a guide for cutting.

  • Cutting a straight line on any fabric is difficult. As denim is a thick and tough fabric, cutting through it carefully can be really tricky. If you’re struggling to keep the jeans still, use pins to attach the front of the pant leg to the back. 

This will keep the legs still and allow you to cut through the front and back fabric at the same time. This will make the process much quicker. It will also mean that the front and back ends will be the same length. This can be a tricky thing to master if you don’t have them laid on top of each other.

  • The way you hold the jeans while cutting is really important. The fabric needs to be flat and taut. Otherwise, the cut will be messy and uneven. One way to make sure you cut neatly is to lay the jeans out on a hard, flat surface. 

Place your hand over the line that you’re about to cut down. Your thumb should be on one side and your forefinger on the other. Press down and push the material in opposite directions. This will give you a flat, taut place to begin cutting.

  • Another way to keep the jeans flat and taut is to anchor them down. This is best for cutting the rest of the line. Again, the jeans need to be on a hard, flat surface. Place the waistline and the pant legs under something heavy (e.g. some books or a heavy oven dish). This will keep them from sliding about and scrunching up as you cut.

If you chose to draw a guideline using a pencil or tailor’s chalk, then this step probably isn’t necessary. But it might still help. 

  • If you went for the neater, folded ends then it’s a good idea to iron them. Once you have folded up the hem once, iron along the fold. Do this again when you fold them a second time. This will make the fold neater and keep it in place.

It will also allow you to see the edges better to make sure they are straight, neat, and even.

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