Our eldest daughter, AJ, attended her first year of girl’s camp this summer. Since she needed another pair of knee length shorts I thought it would be a great time to up-cycle a pair of her old “holey” jeans to add to her bag. It’s super easy so I thought I’d share my method.
Go to kid’s closet. Sneak a pair of jeans that have holes in the knees which are otherwise sturdy. Cut and paste. Ummm…wait, you may want to read the directions below for a better outcome.
I love, love, LOVE my huge self healing rotary cutting board, cutter, and thick clear plastic quilting rulers for this next step. Lay the jeans down flat on the cutting board and line the leg up using the grid markings. Cut the shorts as long as possible using the knee with the highest rip as your guide. Yeah, it totally stinks to cut one leg then realize the other leg has to be cut shorter (thus having to go BACK to the first leg & re-cut). Booo!!!
Choose a thread which either matches the current stitching on your jeans or something that contrasts. You know I’m all for contrast! In the past, I have done a single line of stitching that matches the manufacturer’s top stitching and I have also done stitching in my daughter’s favorite color. This time, I am doing three lines of stitching, each 1/8” apart. One matches the regular topstitching & the two other colors just look fun with the first. This time I used Mettler threads in 0911, 0658 & 542.
My favorite stitch to use is the reinforced straight stitch on my dreamy Viking Designer 1 (sigh!). It is basically a straight stitch that stitches forward 2 stitches, heads back 1 stitch, forward 2, back 1, etc. It makes a really nice thick, and defined line of color which shows up nicely. You could also try a very narrow buttonhole style zig-zag to make the color show up. Always try a new stitch idea on that discarded piece of denim before trying it on your garment. It’s no fun picking out stitches (you know what I’m talkin’ about).
Another fun option at this point is to sew a great piece of jacquard ribbon around the leg leaving your ¼”- ½” of fabric for fringe. That is a SUPER CUTE way to go and I have done several pairs that way. I have used ribbon up to 1” in width but I tend to favor a 9/16” wide ribbon.
Take the table attachment off of your sewing machine so you can fit that lovely little pant leg around the arm & make a line of stitching ¼”- ½” away from the end of the leg. How far in you stitch really just depends on how much fringe you would like in the end. That being said, the narrower the fringe, the less work you will have to do in the next step (like this cute little pair here with a narrow 1/4″ fringe…much nicer scale for little shorts).
Dun, dun, DUUUUN…(next step)
Time to fringe! Okay, get out your friend and mine…that trusty little seam ripper. Go to the side seams and pick out the straight and serged stitches down to your stitching line. The side seams you have picked will be fringed as well.
I left them intact on my first pair of shorts I fringed and they were UGLY so I ended up picking them out in the end. I have never had a problem with the seam coming undone up above my stitching line after multiple washings so no worries there. Work from the backside of the denim (it’s MUCH easier to see that way) then start to pick the white (weft) yarns out of the fabric. It’s pretty easy going but can get a touch fluffy so watch the ol’ nose (ah-CHOO!). You will eventually have to watch out a bit and make sure you aren’t pulling these white yarns out past your stitch line. Once you get to that point just pull the white weft yarns down to the stitch line & cut them off. I left them the same length as the blue (warp) yarns once but ended up cutting them after washing the shorts once. The white yarns ended up super fluffy and super ratty looking so off they came. Blech!
Watch out for that seam ripper…it can really bite at times. I totally poked myself in the finger when picking out that little serged side seam. It’s okay though little guy…I still love you! xoxo
All notion love aside, once you have completed your fringe you’ll have a nice straight indigo fringe. Feel free to wear the shorts at this point, I mean heck, they have already been washed to death by this point anyway, am I right?
A fun thing will happen to the fringe when you do wash your shorts though. The yarns will loosen a bit and turn into a softer fringe. Since the blue yarns are much stronger and tightly twisted than the white yarns they won’t get terribly crazy looking with multiple washings. I have never personally felt a need to re-trim the fringe after multiple washings but that really just depends on your own preference. If you think you may want to trim them up here & there you will probably want to start with a longer fringe.
Have fun making some cute summer & back to school shorts and enjoy trying some different stitches and colors as you go.
These denim shorts are SUPER CUTE with tights and a sweater/jacket once the weather gets chilly too! They will be much cozier for my AJ than tights with a skirt for sure!
P.S. I thought I’d mention one more ribbon variation I have done in the past. When using a narrow ribbon around the leg hem it is fun to unpick the belt loop(s) at the center back waistband and replace them with ribbon loops! A ½-9/16” ribbon works best. Finish off the ribbon ends with a zig-zag, fold your ribbon under on each end and stitch them into place with a nice close zig-zag just like the manufacturer did with the original belt loops and you will have a fun little couture touch!