Is there an old pair of khaki pants with frayed bottoms, stains, and/or worn-out knees sitting in your closet?
Before you throw those pants away or give them to Goodwill, consider giving them a second chance at life by turning them into shorts.
Don’t think you’re up for it, because it requires making a clean hem, and you don’t know how to sew?
Never fear, hem tape is here. By just ironing this stuff on, you can create shorts with a nice clean hem line — no sewing skills required.
In about 15 minutes and for a handful of cents, you can breathe new life into an old garment and add a new pair of shorts to your wardrobe.
Below I’ll show you how it’s done.
- Pair of old pants
- Hem tape (you can buy this online, or at any number of retail stores)
Turning Pants Into Shorts
Step 1: Determine desired length of shorts.
Put on your pants and mark with a pencil where you want your short line to hit on your thigh. You may need some help from someone else to make this line. It’s kind of tricky to do by yourself while you have your pants on.
Step 2: Mark a cut line about 1.5″ beneath your original mark.
Grab your ruler and measure about 1.5″ beneath the original mark you made. Make a mark. This is where you’ll actually cut your pants. That 1.5″ extra fabric will be used to make a hem with the hem tape.
Step 3: Cut your pant legs off.
Take your ruler and draw a line across your pant leg at your cut mark. But here’s the trick: Don’t draw the line straight across the pant leg. Instead, angle it between 10 degrees and 15 degrees upwards towards the inseam of your pants. It might be counterintuitive, but this slant will actually make your hem straight.
Once you have your cut line marked off, cut off the legs of your pants.
Tada! You now have a pair of shorts. You could stop here if you wanted, but the hem of your shorts will start fraying. That’s fine if you’re going for the Jimmy Buffet “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” look. But if you want a clean hem on your shorts, you’ll need to proceed to step 4.
Step 4: Create hem.
So you want to make a clean hem on your new pair of shorts. Now you need to decide what you want the hem to look like. You could have it so the fold is on the outside of your shorts. That’ll give ’em a 1990s Bugle Boy vibe. Nothing wrong with that. Apparently, the early 1990s are making a comeback amongst the youngsters. Or you can have it so the fold is on the inside of your shorts. In this case, it will look like a regular pair of shorts that you’ll typically find on the rack at a store.
I went with the fold on the inside.
To do it that way, turn your shorts completely inside out. It will make creating the hem much easier.
Heat up the iron to the hottest setting.
Iron along the hem on one side of a leg. You want that fabric nice and hot for the hem tape.
Place the hem tape along the hem that you just ironed and press down. It will stick to your shorts.
Fold the hem up until you see the original mark you made for the length of the shorts. Then iron this folded part of the hem. Pay attention to the areas near the inseam and outseam. Those parts tend to get bunched up.
Turn the pants over and repeat the process on the other side. Iron hem, apply tape, fold up hem, iron hem.
Repeat on the other leg.
Boom! Pair of shorts from an old pair of pants.
Now if you’re feeling particularly bold, you can make a pair of 1980s dad jorts (jean shorts) from an old pair of jeans. Let them fray. No nicely done hem required. Tube socks and raglan tee obligatory. Great for mowing the grass or lifting weights. Hell yeah, brother.