How to Fray Jean Shorts: The Ultimate Guide to Fray Your Jeans

How to Fray Jean Shorts

Sometimes, your ideal jeans outfit can be tedious due to a lack of flare. It is not always necessary to run to the store for a new pair of pants to match your style. You can add a new look and life to your favorite pair of jeans by turning them into DIY cutoffs or hemmed shorts.

Ripped pants are so popular because they can instantly make your ordinary clothes seem fantastic. Frayed or distressed denim shorts are fashionable attire for both men and women and can be done easily at home with very little equipment. This article will guide you through the simplest yet most effective ways to fray jean shorts.

What are these Frayed Denim Shorts about?

The frayed-pant look was a common trend among teens during the 1980s and 1990s rock and grunge band eras. For millennials, the early 2000s will always be the age of distress and fringed cut-off jeans for girls, when the pop group Spice Girls and sensations like Britney Spears sported torn or ripped denim outfits. Jean shorts are also fashionable pieces that can be topped with any T-shirt or tank top for a great look.

Shredded denim is straightened and unraveled, leaving raw threads at various parts of the garments, like the hem or the pockets. A ragged hemline with dangling threads is a common party theme among the younger generations or people with a distinctive, unusual fashion sense.

On the other hand, denim pants made to look worn, easygoing, and retro are known as distressed jeans. Abraded shorts could have patches, rips, ragged edges, or faded dye on multiple regions of the pants.

A frayed or distressed hem is not always a bad thing when it comes to styling your old pair of jeans to show off your legs. While these are quite a treat for the eyes at the store, their price tags are not that much of a budget-friendly option for a lot of people.

The good news is that the look can easily be achieved as a DIY project with minimum effort. Whether cutting your treasured old pair of jeans into shorts or abrading or fringing the hem, there are some simple and handy ways to modify them to your preference.

How to Cut Your Favorite Jeans into Shorts

turning jeans into shorts

To fray jeans into shorts, you need to know how to cut your jeans into shorts first. If you’ve been looking for the ideal pair of half-trouser jeans but have not been able to locate any that suit your taste, it may be time to look in your wardrobe.

With the right tools and a few necessary steps, turning your long trousers into shorts can be as easy as it seems when taking certain factors into account. The basic tools for cutting include a regular pair of sharp scissors, a tailor’s chalk, a ruler, and coarse sandpaper.

1. Getting the Perfect Measurement

Whether you are a boy or a girl, the perfect size of your denim shorts directly reflects your style. For boys or men, you would preferably want to end your shorts two to three inches above your knees. As a woman, you might go a step further by DIY-ing your pants into cut-off shorts, which are four to five inches above the knees to give you a chic look.

Regardless of gender, measure your desired length with the help of your ruler and draw with chalk to leave a mark. To double-check a symmetrical height, measure the length from the waistline to the inseam. 

Once you are done with your desired size, use a pair of scissors to cut along the line drawn with the chalk at an angle for ease. The cut need not be perfect as you will be further working with the hem for your preferred touch.

2. Working on the Edges

After you are left with your perfectly sized jorts, there are a lot of options to give your edge a perfect look to your liking. While it is not the same in many cases, men usually wear neatly folded hemmed shorts. They also prefer lightly frayed hems and mildly distressed pockets for a distinct effect. Many also attempt a cuffed ending for a sportier look.

Women, on the other hand, love to distress their jeans shorts in various locations like the hem, back pockets, and pocket border, while keeping the hem unraveled. To make the fringed jean shorts last longer, they are usually machine stitched at a point to prevent further shredding.

But there is no point in DIY-ing if you are headed toward your favorite outlet for party attire. Both of these finishing touches can be done in simple ways with the least effort and time.

things needed to cut and fray your jeans

How to Fray Your Cut-off Jean Shorts

Denim shorts are a summer staple for women as casual or party apparel. Materials like nylon and polyester won’t fray due to the stiffness and nature of their thread, whereas with denim fabric, the rip, fray, or distress process is easier because the thread can be easily pulled out. Not only denim shorts, but any clothing made of the same material can also be unraveled with the same process.

1. Using Scissors and Grooming Brush

While fraying denim shorts are mostly done on the cut end, it is also commonly done below the pockets and above the hemline. For the most basic part, after cutting your pants, make small cuts throughout the raw hem with sharp scissors. Make sure to keep a minimum distance between each cut.

Once done, run through the cuts vertically from top to bottom with a dog brush vigorously to pull out the threads. You can also use tweezers to pull the fabric out to make a fringe per your preference. You can also make cuts in your pockets with scissors and repeat the same steps.

2. Using Seam Ripper for Fringing Shorts

Using a seam ripper can be really helpful if you are planning to loosen out fibers on several sides of your shorts. To give you this elegant accent, grab your hemmed shorts, and with the help of a ruler, measure the fringe length you are comfortable with and leave a mark with a marker. Once done, release the vertical seam on each leg side with your seam ripper.

Rub the pant legs against each other to loosen the threads. Use your finger to extract any stray denim fibers. Then, with the help of the seam ripper or tweezers, slowly start unraveling the thread by stretching it one by one. Make sure to continue the process till you reach your desired fringe length.

Finally, you can stitch up the finishing line at the fringed length to stop further unraveling. You can similarly do fringes on the pocket borders and thighs by tearing small holes in them first. Finally, dry or light wash your shorts and straighten out the fringes with a comb for an even look.

3. Distressing Jeans Shorts with Sandpaper and a Shaving Razor

Frayed jean shorts are basically frayed at the hems or pockets. Abraded denim shorts, on the other hand, have a look all their own that makes them so much edgier than a fresh pair.

The faded look has become increasingly popular in modern clothing trends and jeans apparel. While baggy pants, bootlegs, and straight-leg denim have been the new trends in recent times, there has always been a craze for distressing them, whether they are long or short.

Distressed typically refers to the shorts’ general appearance, giving them a worn-in vintage and retro flair, which makes them a go-to party outfit. An optional distressed style is to fade the dye look by mixing a mixture of 50-50 bleach and water and brushing the liquid onto the jeans and leaving them overnight. The original dye will fade at the applied portion, making the pair appear more fashionable.

To make the jeans look more faded and worn, rub them with sandpaper. Scrub repeatedly with coarse sandpaper if you want your design to get more aggressive. The good thing about sandpaper is that you can keep your fabric softer with a less coarse one. You can carry out the same operation with a disposable razor on any side or part of your pants.

4. Ripping Your Shorts

Ripped jeans come with little or large tears, typically on the thigh or knee, giving them a fashionable and modern look. This unique attire has always been a subject of interest for many years in terms of fashion design and brands.

Apart from fraying your jeans shorts, they can also be ripped for an edgy style for both men and women alike. Shredding is usually done at the hem or at the thighs and pockets.

To do this, you need to make small cuts in your jeans with scissors. Then, with the scissor blade, go through the cut repeatedly to unravel the threads. Then, with your fingers, slowly loosen the fabric from the cut for the final result.

before and after versions of cutting jeans into shorts


Frayed jean shorts are meant to be an outfit for a fun and bold look. As these are done easily at home, they should also be handled with care to last long. Therefore, it is recommended to hand wash them with a soft detergent to avoid excessive friction among the fibers.

If your wardrobe is lacking a pair of denim shorts, we suggest you follow this article and make yourself one with the pair of your favorite jeans and level up your fashion game.

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