Can you tell from the title that I’m excited about today’s topic? It’s because I have a jorts problem.
Image from the Arrested Development wikia page
I own an embarrassingly large number of jean shorts. At least a dozen pairs. I can kind of halfway justify it because of where I live, except that I owned most of them before I ever got here. There’s something about a pair of soft, broken-in jean cutoffs that makes me so happy. Actually, all denim makes me happy. I own the WordPress and Tumblr handle “denimfetish” and seriously considered it for this blog. See more about my denim problem here.
I think I’ve bought two pairs of jean shorts in my life. All the others, I’ve made myself from jeans I’ve found at garage sales and thrift stores. I’ve ruined many a pair trying to cut them super-short-but-not-too-short, frayed-but-not-too-frayed. Luckily, I’ve developed a technique that returns custom-fit, absolutely perfect shorts every time. And it couldn’t be simpler. (Warning–lots of pictures in this one!)
If you’d rather do this thang on your phone, I made a great Steller story with the same content.
First, you’ll need an old pair of jeans. I went to Goodwill and found a pair with a half-off tag for $3. Try to pick something non-stretchy with a high cotton content–it’s much more difficult to distress polyester and spandex. Then, grab scissors, a marker, a ruler, a utility knife and a piece of cardboard.
Chop off the legs of the jeans, leaving the shorts 1.5-2″ longer than you’d like to wear them. Then put the jeans on.
Fold the hem of the shorts up. Look in the mirror and make sure that with the fold, the shorts are the exact length and cut you want. Play around with it…try folding at different lengths and angles and see what’s most flattering. On many people, shorts that slant subtly upward toward the outside of the leg look best.
Make sure they’re the right length. I like my shorts pretty short, but they have to cover the necessary stuff.
Once you’re happy with how the shorts look, get your marker. With one hand, pinch the fold you just made; with the other, run your marker along the edge of the fold. You want to make a line that traces exactly where you’ve folded the fabric. Go all the way around both legs.
For a more precise line, you could pin the fold, take the shorts off and press the crease with an iron. I’m too lazy for that.
Take the shorts off, turn them inside out and cut along the line you just made. Don’t cut the front and back of the shorts together–the whole point of this method is making a more flattering asymmetrical cut.
Et voila! A pair of Daisy Dukes custom-made for your booty.
Now let’s distress them!
I used to painstakingly fray my shorts by pulling out individual threads with a seam ripper. It was tedious beyond belief. Luckily, I found a great alternate method in a video on the Free People blog. Basically, it involves cutting slits in the denim with a knife, creating narrow strips that fray and degrade with wear.
First, we’ll fray the hem. Insert your cardboard into the leg opening to protect the fabric on the other side. Start your cuts a half inch up the legs of your shorts, using the ruler to make them straight-ish. The slits don’t have to be evenly spaced or run the entire width of the leg; you’re just creating lots of narrow strips at the bottom of the shorts.
Now let’s make some natural-looking distress marks on the jeans. Cut some little slits at the top of the pockets, front and back, where your hand would rub against if you reached into the pocket over and over. Sometimes I also make little slits on the belt loops and the bottoms of the back pockets.
To “break in” the front of the shorts, drag your blade across the denim until little pulls and holes start to form. Lightly glide the blade over the fabric with just enough pressure to snag the top threads. Don’t overdo it; the holes will get bigger in the wash.
Then, throw the jeans in the laundry. I put them in for the longest, heaviest duty cycle and then let them tumble in the dryer for at least half an hour.
Just one wash later, you’ve got a perfectly distressed pair of jean shorts. And they only get better with time and more washes.
Any other jorts junkies out there? I want to hear your best tips!