It’s often true that what you buy in the shops is just a building block for something even better, especially when it comes to denim.
My ‘perfect’ denim cut offs I’ve been wearing for the vast majority of my 20s, looked entirely different when I first bought them… I think I got them from Urban Outfitters and while they fitted perfectly round the waist, they were unflattering around the bum and just too long for what I wanted. Thanks to my trusty scissors and cheese grater, I turned them into something I now can’t imagine a holiday without. And it’s not just shorts. When I get bored of a pair of jeans or just find a great pair in store that’s either too long or too short, with a few at-home tweaks they can suddenly fit like a dream and be altogether more interesting than when you first got them.
First up, denim shorts… The secret to a really great pair is not trying to find them ready done as shorts, but turning great vintage jeans into frayed cut offs… You just need a pair of jeans that fit well at the waist (every body’s different, but ideally I think they should sit just on or below your waist and aren’t hugging your hips tightly), a cheese grater and good pair of scissors. If in doubt, it’s worth sizing up a little for a pair you’re going to make shorts so they’re not tight round your bum or thighs.
Make the incision at the inside leg first, about an inch or two in length from the crotch, and then cut the front and back separately. To get the right shape, you want to angle your line slightly up as you cut towards the hip. This makes for a more flattering, slightly A-line shape. Just watch out for that pocket… You want the back long enough to entirely cover your bum so it will end up being longer than the front and that’s just fine. Cut a couple of cm below and around the back pocket until you meet the initial incision you made on the in seam. I don’t mind the front pocket slightly showing but some have a real hatred for this so if you don’t like it, keep the shorts that bit longer.
Once you’re done both sides (typically I think my second side was better than the first!), you want to rough them up a bit. One leg at a time, get them so the back and front hems line up and fold over so you can grate all sides at once…
Watch your knuckles and fingers at this bit… Use the roughest edge of the grater (normally the sticky out one on the side) to grate the frayed hems. By folding material together you get a better grip, protection for your hands and can do more at once. Some bits will inevitably grate more than others so keep checking and folding in different way to grate evenly.
That wear-and-tera look really comes from wearing and washing them but this takes the edge off that freshly chopped look. It’s like getting your hair dresser to cut up into you hair ever so slightly so it’s not pin straight at the bottom. There’s no ‘perfect’ way to do this – it’s meant to be messy. Just don’t over do it… Seriously shredded denim needs to be left in 2009.
And you’re done… I actually quite like that the sides aren’t identical as it just adds to the roughed-up feel of them.
Net up, frayed hem jeans….
You might remember these Topshop jeans from here. I’ve always loved the fit of them but they feel quite short when I sit down and are a little tighter around the ankle than what I normally like.
So I decided to do a super easy DIY job on them to turn them into something I want to wear a bit more often.
Turn the hem of your jeans inside out and use the end of a safety pin to slightly pull one of the stitches away from the denim and use a small pair of scissors to snip it. You can then start unravelling then seam from the inside, using the scissors to snip the seams away as you pull them away.
If you have one of those stitch puller thingys this would be a lot easier but alas I don’t have one so scissors and man power it was…
After you’ve taken out all the hem stitches out and remaining thread, you’ll end up with something like this…
Do the other leg, iron them flat and ta-da. New old jeans with the sort of frayed hem we’re all going gaga for this summer…
Selection of vintage Levis at Urban Outfitters.
Grey Jeans | Topshop
Beige cashmere jumper | AG
Bandana | Vintage
Grey knit jumper | Boohoo
Bra | Anine Bing
Rings and bracelets | Lucy Williams X Missoma
Ph. taken on the Olympus Pen by yours truly.