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From worn-out jeans to toddler shorts


  • One pair of old jeans
  • scissors
  • elastic (for waistband)
  • thread
  • sewing machine (optional, but highly desirable)

Place pattern pieces (or, alternately, an existing pair of shorts to use as a pattern) over jeans, avoiding the more worn-out portions of the garment.


Cut, allowing for seam allowances and the increased/decreased stretchiness of new material if using an existing outfit (the shorts I used were made of a woven material, while the jeans I was cutting up were the stretchy type). I’m keeping the outer seam of the jeans for these shorts, and so I didn’t allow for any seam allowance there.


Make any further adjustments. This pair of shorts was cut to be about an inch longer than the pair used as a pattern. I also made the rise slightly higher in the back and slightly lower in the front as you can see in the photo below. I considered adding pockets, but didn’t really want my son to fill them with anything so I left them off.


Stitch together and photograph the end result (optional). If you look closely, you will see that I am still learning how to properly use the blind hem on my serger, and that I lazily left on the yellow thread even though it didn’t match. That’s the beauty of making play shorts for an 18-month-old out of old clothes – you can practice sewing and be lazy about thread colors.


Johnny liked this pair of shorts first try, but got them seriously dirty, so no photographs of the model in them until I do laundry.

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

6 thoughts on “From worn-out jeans to toddler shorts”

  1. This is great! My dad recently gave me a huge box of his old jeans, so I'll definitely be making these! Yours turned out beautifully!!

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