Beat the Summer Heat with DIY Cut-Off Jean Shorts

If you’re looking for an easy, inexpensive way to revamp your casual summer wardrobe, then look no further than your local Goodwill®. Most of us live in shorts and t-shirts all summer long. After all, who wants to fuss with a complicated outfit when that mercury starts to rise? However, this simple clothing combination need not be boring. You can show off your personality and knowledge of the latest trends with your own DIY summer shorts.


Novelty shorts are back in fashion, with retailers pushing a menagerie of styles. Short shorts with a high waist are enjoying a revival, and 90s bike shorts look great when worn underneath a short summer dress. Both of these can be bought straight off the rack at the thrift store, with little to no alterations necessary. However, if you want to get a little bit creative, then head straight to the pants rack of your nearest Goodwill store and start your search.


When looking for a good pair of pants to cut into shorts, remember the following guidelines:


  • Stiffer jeans (such as was the normal before stretch thread blending became mainstream) are going to give you more structure on the bottom, creating a more flattering shape.
  • It’s best to avoid stretch jeans because they are designed to fit too tightly through the thigh.
  • Rises have also changed drastically throughout the years, so pay attention to the length of the front zipper when browsing the racks. Some women prefer a mid- to high-rise, while for others low-rise works better. At this point in the trend cycle, it’s only a matter of personal preference so choose what makes you feel best.



If you’re curvier on the bottom, men’s jeans may actually be a good option. My DIY lace shorts pictured here were made from a men’s pair of jeans, giving me a more relaxed fit throughout the thigh. If considering a men’s jean, just remember to make sure that they fit snugly around your natural waist, preventing any creases in the front. Since the crotch sits lower on men’s jeans, it will appear that you’re cutting your shorts much shorter than you actually are. If you like the pockets to hang out the bottom of your cut-off shorts, then men’s jeans are your best bet.



I took a trip to my local craft store to pick up a few supplies to customize my cut-offs. I have been in love with the concept of the flag short for quite some time now, and decided to give it a whirl. All you need to recreate these is a pair of cut-off shorts, a fabric flag, fabric glue, and a sewing machine. Simply cut the flag into two sections and then glue it onto the front panels of your shorts. After the glue dries, just sew around the edges to secure it into place.


The lace shorts are even simpler. You just need about two yards of lace and a sewing machine to recreate these. I sewed the lace inside out along the bottom, and then created a faux flap of lace on the back pockets. Other ideas for DIY shorts include studs, spikes, fabric paint, stencils, glitter glue and paneling the back pockets. The possibilities are truly endless.



Remember, when you’re thrifting for the perfect jeans, that 82 percent of collective revenues raised through the sale of donated goods go directly toward supporting and growing Goodwill’s critical community-based programs and services. In 2011 alone, more than 190,000 people in the USA and Canada obtained meaningful employment as a result of Goodwill career services programs. You’re not only helping yourself to save money, but you’re helping the economy as well.


Have an idea that wasn’t mentioned here? Leave it in the comments section below!