Boy’s shorts upcycle tutorial

shortsYou know when your kids outgrow their denim shorts, but they are still perfectly wearable? Or when kids wear holes in the knees of their jeans during the winter, and by the time it’s warm enough for cutoffs the jeans are too small in the waist? Add panels on the sides and bind the bottom, and you’ve got a new pair of shorts!

Here’s what to do!

What you’ll need:

– 1 pair outgrown shorts or pants (jeans with holes in the knees are great for this)
– two pieces of fabric for the panels, approx. 6 inches wide by 15 inches long (length will vary depending on the length of your shorts, 1/4 yard is more than enough total)
– two pieces of coordinating fabric, approx. 16-18 inches wide by 2.5 inches tall (width will vary depending on the size of your shorts and how much width you add) for the binding (or use store-bought 1/2″ wide double-fold bias tape)
– Coordinating or contrasting thread for the binding
– approx. 6 inches of 3/4 inch no-roll elastic
– Pins, needles, sewing machine, yadda yadda.

1) If working with jeans, cut legs off at the knees/holes, and even the length.
2) Separate the side seams ONLY. If the waistband is one piece, cut through it in line with the side seams. Leave the center seams intact.
3) Measure the sides of the shorts to determine the length of the panel. Add at least 2.5 inches to the top edge of each panel for the casing.
4) Determine the width of the side panels by looking at the fabric you’ve chosen – you want to make sure to include any significant patterns, and allow for a 1/2 inch seam allowance on the sides (remember that portion will not be seen in the final shorts). You want to add at least 3 inches in width, and can add up to 6 inches.


For these shorts, I wanted to match sure all three “chuggers” (from Chuggington) were featured, along with their “tickets” (right side) and “Let’s Ride The Rails” (left side). side-seam2
5) Pin your panels into place into the opened side seams of the shorts. (Make sure to pin them so that you still have two legs, lol.) Align the bottom of the fabric with the bottom edge of the shorts, leaving the top edge hanging past the top.
6. Sew the side seams, starting just below the waistband of the shorts.


7. Fold over the fabric at the top to form the casing. First fold it so that the fold is aligned with the top edge of the shorts, and press. Then fold the edge up into the casing, making sure your casing is at least 1″ tall so that it will be easy to thread in your elastic.

8. Sew the bottom of your casing, close to the folded edge.

9. Measure one side of the bottom edge of your shorts to determine the width of your cuff. Multiply the measurement by two and add at least an inch for overlap. (If using store-bought binding tape, skip to step 14.)

10. Cut two pieces of your coordinating fabric, using your measured width and 2.5 inches tall.


11. To make the binding, first fold the fabric in half lengthwise and iron.


12. Open the binding out, and fold the edges in toward the center, then press. cuff4

13. Fold back in half along the original fold line, and press.

14. Open out one end, fold in a quarter inch and press; fold back in the sides and along the center fold; press. All edges should be inside.
14. Pin your binding (or bias tape) along the bottom edges of your shorts, with the edge of the shorts inside the folded binding or tape. The overlap should be toward the center seam (but not exactly on the seam). Make sure the folded edge is on the outside of the overlap.

15. Stitch in place, making sure to catch  all layers. I used two rows of contrasting top stitching to make it look like railroad tracks.

16. Thread your elastic through the casing, and adjust for size; sew closed both ends of the casing, completing the waistband.

17. Enjoy your new shorts!

Check out the Cars version of these shorts on my son!


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