How to Make Ripped Jean Shorts

jeans... image by Saskia Massink from

When your old jeans have rips in the knees or ragged hems, you can still squeeze a bit more life out of them by turning them into shorts; in fact, the more beat-up and worn your jeans are, the better shorts they will make. Ripped, frayed jean shorts add an “edge” to your look and are a classic summer wardrobe staple. They are simple to make and look better the more you wash and wear them.

Things You'll Need

  • Seam ripper
  • Jeans
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

Try on your jeans inside out in front of a mirror. Mark the length you want your shorts to be with the pencil on the front of one leg. Take the jeans off and place them on a hard surface.

Use the measuring tape to ensure the line across the front of the jeans is straight, and adjust if necessary. Measure from the top of the waistband to the line you just drew. Write this length measurement down. Move to the opposite leg and use the measuring tape to measure from the top of the waistband down the leg. Make a mark at the length measurement and draw a straight horizontal line across the front of the leg at this mark.

Use the seam ripper to make a small notch along the line on the front of each jean leg. Poke the seam ripper through the top layer of the denim fabric along the pencil line. Make the notch large enough to stick your index finger through it.

Stick your finger in the notch on one leg of the jeans and rip the fabric across the horizontal line you drew. The grain of the fabric will make a straight tear across the jeans, but since the end result is a jagged, frayed edge, do not worry if the tear is imperfect. Continue tearing along the entire front over to the side seam of the jeans.

Cut through the side seam carefully with your scissors. Because the side seam is several layers of fabric, it is nearly impossible to tear. Cut only through the side seam, and then continue tearing through the entire back side of the leg to the opposite side seam.

Cut the opposite side seam with scissors and continue tearing all the way around the leg until you reach your starting point. Set the bottom portion of the jean leg aside. Repeat the steps for the opposite jean leg.

Add any additional tears you may want by making a small notch with the seam ripper and tearing. Always start by making small tears, as they increase in size with washing. This method works well for additional tearing in the legs or seat of the jeans.