Thursday, July 20, 2017

DYI Shorts -- The only time I’ve ever liked shorts

Sorry for the long absence, we just made it through “Birthday Season” over here -- our 3 kiddos all have birthdays within two weeks of eachother. So I’ve been celebrating, and visiting, and such. Then recovering. Then visiting with more family for part of their vacation, which was nice.

But I’m back and today I would like to show you an update to my wardrobe.
Today I’m talking about shorts. Which have always been tricky for me, ever since puberty. For some reason shorts seem even harder than pants (which seem hard.)

This spring when it turned hot over night I quickly grabbed a pair of jean shorts from Old Navy because I am starting from scratch for shorts due to size shifting so I needed SOMETHING for the heat.
Those shorts were pretty decent, especially considering I have never been able to find correct fitting shorts.  But these shorts did what I thought every pair of shorts did on me -- bunch up between my legs when I so much as move. I pretended I was ok with this and that it looked ok, because what else could I really do? (However, if I ever looked in the mirror after walking across a room, especially if I looked at my butt….crylaugh-emoji…not so good.) But like I said -- that’s just what shorts do on me! 

I thought!!

Well, not anymore! I figured it out. There IS something I can do!

I currently have 4 pairs of fantastic fitting shorts in my possession. 

The secret?
They did not start out their life as shorts.

The magic is turning pants (or something longer than the shorts you want) into shorts. 

Why is this SO SPECIAL?

I find this new concept magical for two reasons.
      First and foremost, I don’t have the legs for short-shorts (both esthetically speaking IMO, but also in the functionality arena…the bunching) However…when at the stores, any shorts that I think look cute seem to be VERY short. So the shopping never goes well.
      Second of all, I’m an hourglass figure (Don’t leave yet, if that’s not your body shape -- this is applies if you keep your shape in mind), and as far as I can tell shorts seem to focus less on different body shapes options than jeans do. Meaning I can find curvy jeans. I cannot find curvy shorts. 
It seems to me that shorts creators mainly make rectangle shaped shorts. Which might be fine for some/many people. But so not fine for me.
In the instance of my Old Navy shorts they are quite roomy in the waist for me, and snugged on my thighs. Which only amplifies they bunching up problem. Because the waist has no say in holding things, as the legs are forced up as I walk.

It finally all came together for me as I realized pants have many different cuts and I could take advantage of that. (So if you aren’t a hour glass shape, but you have shorts issues, just take the concept of buying pants that fit your waist/butt/legs and making them into shorts. And then this idea works for you too.) And I also got excited realizing, if I do that, I control the exact length. (Which at 5’3” …length of everything is often tricky because regular length is always made for someone taller than me, but petite sometimes doesn’t hit right either….so custom is delightful.)

So, if you know me, then you know I started by thrifting.
(You can do this with new pants too.)

Actually that’s not true, I started by planning. I looked at Emily Henderson’s recent summer wardrobe post, a lot of un-fancy’s outfits, and Lauren McBride’s Instagram for inspiration. None of these lady’s are “my style” exactly, but I really enjoy them and their looks, and they inspire me. And as I’m still releaning my new style personality... I think, in a way, if I smashed their looks together I’d get something me. 
(By the way Emily Henderson is an interior designer/stylist -- and my number one source for learning how to design interiors, she is so generous with her knowledge, breaking down all the “science” of why things look good -- sooo awesome.)


First up, distressed Levi jean shorts. These started life as Levi jeans.
These were as close of a copy as I could muster to the Levi long jean shorts Emily has and loves, as I could muster. I was very happy to actually find Levis for this, and ones that fit me very well. (Thrifting super win!)

 I didn’t like them as pants (which is good because otherwise I’d be torn on what to do.) But that’s the great thing, you don’t have to like them as pants, most of that will be removed. You just have to like the waist, butt, and top of the legs.

I gave these an 6” inseam. (You measure from the very middle of the crotch down one leg’s interior seam 6” and cut across.)
Before getting to 6”, I tried these out a few longer lengths first, just to be sure. This length on me is great. I can leave the legs down, as is, and have a “nearly Bermuda” length (I can’t ever feel right in true bermuda -- it’s not for me, I look shorter and rounder.) But I can also cuff up the legs up and get a “short short” vibe without it being short at all. 
And this length, when paired with correct fit, really help the legs not bunch.

And then looked at Emily’s levi short’s online photos and did my best to distress them similarly. And I really like how they turned out.

To disstress, I watched a couple youtubes and proceeded to take a razor blade to slice horizontally, the top and bottom of the patch area desired, then take a tweezer and pill out the blue vertical strings and you get these patches. Washing also helps finish the look.

Here are a couple photos of my Old Navy shorts on top of my new Levi DIY shorts. In the first you can see the difference in inseam length. It may not look all that much longer, but it really is significant when on your body.
The next shows (maybe not well, but I tried) how the waist is more tapered on the DIY Levis (the top pair) than the Old Navy (the bottom pair.)

Then, based on those ladies’ photos, I decided I also needed white shorts. I’ve actually never had white shorts or pants. So I was excited about trying them out. However I remain skeptical about practicality, (despite them being able to pull them off with kids, well Emily and Lauren anyway) but yeah I really did want to thrift these, incase they immediately get pelted with ketchup.
 I found these white capris.
 As capris these made me look terrible. (I looked shorter and heavier in capris.)

But hack them into shorts and problem solved. Now they are really quite cute.
I actually went ahead and removed the front pockets because I felt like you could see them too much through the legs. To do that I sewed directly over the two seams of the pocket opening to seal them closed, and then on the inside very carefully cut the pockets out along that seam.
I wanted these to be less distressed, so after I cut these to have a 5 inch inseam (6 seemed too long on the white for whatever reason. Customization keeps on winning) I sewed a straight stitch around the leg opening and then washed them to fray. That seam will keep the fraying from getting any longer than where the seam is placed. I trimmed the longer frays off for these.

So then it was like “Yeah, since now I’m gonna have white shorts, lets try black too.” I wasn’t sure I’d like black shorts (despite loving black pants) because once I tried on too-short black shorts and the color contrast between my legs and the black really over emphasized skin flaws (ehh hemmm cellulite looked fierce.)
But, like I’m learning, when you are calling the shots you can make this stuff work out.

I found these Merona bootcut black denim, still new with tags. But I have a feeling they are dated because the style.
Now these are interesting because they are clearly made for a curvy person, the waist is small and the legs are wide, however the zipper is just barely long enough to get that small waist up over my full hips. Once they are on, they feel fabulous, but bathroom trips always have a small bout of emotional-ness. I think it’s worth it. But I can see why they didn’t get worn by original buyer.

I gave these a 5 inch inseam as well. I gave these that same straight stitch around the legs and washed to fray and trimmed the longer strings off.

(This looks weird because this shirt is really long in the back and I’m holding it up.)

Ok and now for my controversial shorts.
I bought these beauties.  ;)  Because I have weird love of vintage and different and felt like I could do something with these.

I cut a few inches off (sorry I didn’t measure on these.) And did an official hem -- folded twice, ironed and sewed. Then with what I cut off, I pieced together enough to make a belt.

Now I personally really enjoy these. I think they are dorky chic. And I LOVE the super roomy legs.
But I can tell people don’t quite know what to think when they see me in them.
I’ve gotten one compliment when wearing them.
 But mostly I get an elongated look at the pleats in the first moments of walking into the room, usually followed by a contemplative look.
So I’m not sure anyone is sure about them.
But that’s ok.
I like them.

I’m not claiming model status with ANY of these shorts. But I am claiming happy status! :)

So yeah. Those are my shorts.
All customized by me.

And you too can do this.
Some of these required zero sewing skills.
The rest are very minimal.

Overall I believe I spend $20 - $25 to get 4 pairs of shorts that fit REALLY nicely.
None of them wedge up.
The denim, black and white do slide up my legs a little bit, sometimes. But not all the time. And when when they do -- and I look at my butt in the mirror, it requires no emoji at all because it looks totally normal. Maybe a smile, because for the first time in my life I don’t look hilarious digging my shorts out of my crotch every 5 steps.
Definitely worth more the $25.


  1. Oh man, I have got to do this. I've been living in Old Navy shorts that look horrible on me and just avoiding full length mirrors all summer. I have the same exact problem, and I currently do not own a single pair of pants or shorts that actually fit properly. It's so bad!

    I have a friend who recently got a pair of pleated shorts very similar to the ones you made. I think yours look better on you, actually super cute! I can't decide if it's quite my style.... But the roomy legs sound so appealing!

    1. It's SO empowering!! Definitely try the DIY!!
      Thanks for the pleated shorts compliment. I wasn't sure they were my personal style looks wise either. But I decided these shorts were my body type's BFF and threw caution to the wind, decided to go for comfort over style this go round...and kinda just had faith that a good fit worn with confidence is cute.

  2. Amen for happy status!!! That's what clothes should always do for us- I will have to try this with old pants that I wanted to up-cycle in some way. Thanks for the step-by-step.

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