How to Cut Pants into Shorts

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Learn how to cut pants into shorts for the summer heat. This easy sewing alteration is a great way to give pants or jeans new life!

Whenever summer starts, I think I can get by with cropped pants and wide leg jeans. Once the full heat hits and keeps marching on relentlessly, I start to itch for shorts to keep me cool. I put together this post with lots of examples of how to cut pants into shorts so that you can do it too!

Not only is this a great way to add shorts to your closet, it’s great for pants that have holes in the knees, pants that have a stained hem, or pants that just need a change to get you to wear them.

How to Cut Pants into Shorts

Do you love to sew and alter? Try some of these fun sewing projects:

How to Cut Pants into Shorts

There will be several examples of pants cut into shorts, but I don’t go into great depth for each one. You should know how to sew a hem to be able to do this process.

All of the pants in this post, except for the leggings, are made from a woven or a stretch woven fabric. It would be slightly different if you were cutting knit pants.

Supplies

  • Pants to cut
  • Marking tool
  • Ruler
  • Cutting mat and rotary blade
  • Sewing machine
How to Cut Pants into Shorts

How to Cut Jeans into Shorts

My favorite kind of jean shorts are one with a cut-off and frayed edge. I like my summer denim to have a little bit of an edge.

I have a different type of jean hem after this example if that is what you are looking for.

cut at hem allowance

Start by putting your jeans on. Walk around your place for a bit so that they get settled in and fit like they usually do. Use a marking to to mark your desired finished length. When you bend over and lift your leg up, the pants will adjust slightly so check the length once you are standing up straight.

mark jeans

For a cut-off look:

Line up the hem leg with a line at the edge of the cutting mat. The grainline is perpendicular to the hem so the new lines you cut will also need to be perpendicular to the shorts hem.

Cut across the pants leg at the shorts making sure that you cut with a straight line on the cutting mat. Do the same to the other leg.

For a hemmed look:

Do the same as the process above, but cut 1.25 inches below the mark. This will create a 5/8 inch double fold hem allowance which is the most common hem size for denim.

cut at hem allowance

For a cut-off look:

Sew around the leg with a matching thread 1/2 inch away from the cut edge. This doesn’t prevent fraying but it gives strength to the edge and keeps the side seams from coming undone. You finished!

For a hemmed look:

Fold the edge up 5/8 inch and then another 5/8 inch. Sew the hem in place 1/2 inch from the edge. Press the new hem. You finished!

finished jeans to shorts

Another option for the hem is to add a cuff to the hem. Learn how to hem jean shorts with a cuff.

cut jeans into shorts

How to Cut Joggers into Shorts

I’ve loved joggers and/or cropped pants for years, but for some of them I was ready for something slightly different. They make great shorts and since they have elastic waists, they are very, very comfortable.

cut at hem allowance

Start by putting your pants on. Walk around your place for a bit so that they get settled in and fit like they usually do. Use a marking to to mark your desired finished length. When you bend over and lift your leg up, the pants will adjust slightly so check the length once you are standing up straight.

mark joggers

Joggers are often hemmed with a regular hem or a “cuffed” hem. I say cuffed in quotation marks because it’s not a true cuff, but more of a reverse hem. I will show you how to do both options.

Regular hem:

Line up the hem leg with a line at the edge of the cutting mat. The grainline is perpendicular to the hem so the new lines you cut will also need to be perpendicular to the shorts hem.

Cut 2 inches below the mark. This will create a 1 inch double fold hem allowance which is the most common hem size for lightweight shorts.

cut at hem allowance

Fold the edge up 1 inch and then another 1 inch. Sew the hem in place 7/8 inch from the edge. Press the new hem. You finished!

finished joggers to shorts

“Cuffed” hem:

Line up the hem leg with a line at the edge of the cutting mat. The grainline is perpendicular to the hem so the new lines you cut will also need to be perpendicular to the shorts hem.

Cut 2 inches below the mark. This will create a 1 inch double fold cuff allowance.

cut at hem allowance

Fold the edge up 1 inch towards the outside of the shorts and then another 1 inch towards the outside of the shorts. Sew the hem in place 7/8 inch from the edge.

I sew all the way around the hem and even though the stitching will show, I find it gives a much stronger hold than just tacking the cuff in place. The fold of the hem will be on the outside and will show like a cuff, but it won’t be too bulky like a traditional cuff.

Press the new hem. You finished!

finished joggers to shorts

How to Cut Leggings into Shorts

I have a full in-depth tutorial for how to cut leggings into shorts, so I’m not going to go into detail here. I have cut so many leggings into shorts, and I love it!

cut leggings into shorts

How to Cut Wide Leg Pants into Shorts

I’ve been loving the wide leg trends, and I wanted to try it as shorts to see how I liked it.

cut at hem allowance

Start by putting your pants on. Walk around your place for a bit so that they get settled in and fit like they usually do. Use a marking to to mark your desired finished length. When you bend over and lift your leg up, the pants will adjust slightly so check the length once you are standing up straight.

mark wide leg pants

Line up the hem leg with a line at the edge of the cutting mat. The grainline is perpendicular to the hem so the new lines you cut will also need to be perpendicular to the shorts hem.

For a regular hem:

Cut 2 inches below the mark. This will create a 1 inch double fold hem allowance.

For a traditional cuff:

Cut 4 inches below the mark.

cut at hem allowance

For a regular hem:

Fold the edge up 1 inch and then another 1 inch. Sew the hem in place 7/8 inch from the edge. Press the new hem. You finished!

For a traditional cuff:

Sew the cuff with the instructions from how to cuff dress pants. You finished!

finished wide leg pants to shorts

If you make something using this sewing project, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!

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