Got an old pair of jeans that you don’t want to throw away? With this guide, you’ll be able to cut and shred them into your own stylish frayed denim shorts. No more reason to worry about a tear when controlled fraying can rescue you!
In these thrifty times, people are upcycling furniture, decorating their own houses, and finding interesting ways to save money everywhere. But the ladies are well ahead of the men when it comes to customizing their own clothes.
Want to figure out how to wear jean shorts, style cutoffs, or find the right denim? Keep on reading and find out more about comfortable new pair of shorts.
Tools to Use to Fray Denim
Before you learn how to fray your denim shorts you need to find the right tools for the job. Whether you’re going to be cutting your jeans into shorts, fraying the shorts you already have, or distressing your denim you’ll need more than just a pair of scissors.
Here are a few of the tools, most of which can find around your house, to cut and fray your jeans:
- Scissors: These are the most obvious tool you need to cut and fray your shorts. A large pair of fabric scissors would be best, the sharper the better. But if you’re just looking for a rough fray any scissors will do + aim for a pair of tweezers for ultimate precision.
- Pinking shears: If you only want a slight fray these are the best tools to cut your denim. The zigzag pattern means that the material won’t automatically fray and you can control how much it shreds. You’ll find these in your girlfriend’s (or mom’s) sewing kit. If not you can buy them from any craft store.
- Craft/Utility knife: A craft knife is more precise than using scissors and it works well if you want frayed slashes in your jeans. If you want perfectly straight lines you’ll also need a ruler. But be careful, you need the knife to be sharp to cut through the denim. This will help with any scrapes, along with a disposable razor.
- Sandpaper: Once you’ve cut your shorts you’ll need something to rough to fray them. High-grade sandpaper is easier than using your fingers. Even if you only have a used off cut, it can also be effective if you want to distress your jeans to match the fray.
- Cheese grater: Ever wondered what the side of a cheese grater with the small holes is for? We don’t know either, but it works great to fray and distress the thick denim material of jeans. It will style your pant legs for that overall distressed look.
- Razor: This works in a similar way to the cheese grater, but it can be used to fray in smaller areas. You don’t have to go out and buy new razors. They don’t have to be too sharp so you can just use an old blunt one. It is as precise as a box cutter + can be used on linen.
- Seam Ripper: This is another option to make fraying your jeans easier. Watch out for individual threads. It’s a great tool if you want your fraying to be more precise or if you want to fray holes in your shorts. You can easily fray your jeans without this tool but it’s pretty cheap to pick up from your local craft shop.
- Chalk: To mark out your jeans for cutting and fraying, chalk is best. You can use a felt pen or Sharpie if you’d prefer. But the great thing about chalk is that it rubs off after you’ve finished transforming your shorts.
How to Fray Denim Shorts
The first thing you need to do to create your own frayed denim shorts is cut off the hem. This is what’s stopping the shorts from fraying in the first place. It’s also a good time to alter your shorts if you need to. But remember, fraying your shorts will shorten them too so keep them slightly longer than you want them to be in the end.
If you don’t have a pair of shorts to fray you can use an old pair of jeans and cut them into shorts. It doesn’t matter if the jeans are worn out as you’ll cut most of the bottom off them anyway. Here’s a quick three-step guide to creating denim cut off shorts:
- While wearing your jeans mark out (in chalk) how short you want your shorts to be. Using a mirror would be easiest for that final look.
- Take the jeans off and fold them in half and lay them on a flat surface, making sure all the edges are matched up perfectly.
- Cut your jeans straight across, cutting both legs at the same time. When they’re folded back out they should look equal.
Now your new denim shorts are ready to fray. So read on to see how to fray cut off shorts.
How to Take Care of Frayed Denim
Now you know how to cut jeans into shorts you need to look after them and make sure all your hard work doesn’t go to waste. The problem with fraying is that once something starts to fray it just keeps going. But there are a few things you can do to stop this.
First of all, make sure that the denim you are fraying is made out of 100% cotton sans-stretch fibers. If not your shorts are probably going to warp and stretch once you’ve cut, frayed, and distressed them. A hot wash will shrink your jeans back to normal, but it can also wear them out faster. Heads up when working with raw hem.
If you do a quick search you will see that there are many kinds of fray glues and sprays to stop your shorts from shredding into oblivion. But Hi-Tack Fray Stop and Hemline Fray Stoppa are the most high-rated online. If you want a cheaper option you can try a cheap fabric glue or even PVA glue, as long as it dries clear. You’ll have to reapply it a lot more often, but if you’re going for the messy frayed look it won’t matter. Heads up since such mishaps can happen with some thread & glue combos.
If you’ve frayed and distressed your jeans in more than one place you’ll need something to spray all over them to hold the loose ends in place. Want to try out some alterations and need a little variety? You don’t want to be spreading the glue all over your jeans, especially if you’ve only slightly distressed them. Another way to slow down fraying is by using fabric stiffeners. You can also use sandpaper to get to the bottom of the shorts and your cutting line to look in order.
There are plenty of cheap ones on the market but here are three easy, natural ways you can make your own. Just put them in a spray bottle and spritz them all over your denim shorts:
- Cornflour and water – Just make sure the water is warm so that the cornflour dissolves properly. This is a cheap way to create a fabric stiffener, and it dries clear.
- Flour and water – This doesn’t quite dry clear, but if you are looking for a more vintage look it would be perfect.
- Rice Water – Once you’ve boiled your rice (it has to be white rice) it leaves behind starchy water that is perfect for stiffening fabric.
How To Fray Denim Shorts
- Use pinking shears instead of scissors to cut if you only want a slight fray.
- Use a craft knife and ruler if you want to create perfectly straight lines.
- You don’t need to go out and buy tools; razors, cheese graters, and sandpaper make great fraying tools.
- Use chalk to mark where you’d like to cut as it rubs right off.
- If you fold your jeans in half before cutting them both legs will be equal.
- Keep trying your shorts on as you go along to see how they look.
- Fray and distress your denim in places they have already worn down for a more natural look.
- Once you’ve cut your jeans put them on a spin cycle to fray them easier.
- Use fray glue or fabric stiffener to stop the fray from going too far.
On That Note
Now DIY denim doesn’t seem so daunting there’s no need to throw out your old jeans; you can make them into something new. Do you want to get some cute shorts with your own original mark? Do you want to try out a distressed look with a pair of old jeans? Time to fray jean shorts and take care of some loose threads. You’ll have a little extra cash in your pocket to treat yourself. So it’s time to go through your wardrobe to see what else you can makeover. Ready for that clean cut?
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