DIY: Chinos to Shorts

The perfect pair of shorts doesn’t exist. They’re either too long, too short, have too many pockets, or they’re just too wide in the thighs. Couple that with the need for a larger size and you’ll usually find yourself stuck with a pair of unflattering cargo shorts, just like every other big guy. There’s a remedy to this problem: take matters into your own hands and make a pair of shorts. It’s easy, and the best part is, you get to set the budget.

Prep Time: 5 Minutes Work Time: 10-15 minutes Total Time: about 15- 20 minutes

SUPPLIES: 1 Pair of pants (I found these beach washed blue chinos for $10 at Marshalls) 1 Pair of shorts (to measure the length against) 1 Pair of scissors 1 yard stick or measuring tape 1 Pen, Marker. Chalk or any writing implement

Step 1: Take inventory and lay out all your items as needed. For the most accurate measurements and cuts, iron the pants you’ll be cutting and the shorts you’ll use as a guide.

Step 2: Lay out a favorite pair of shorts to use as a guide. You’ll be measuring the length of the inseam from the crotch to the bottom of the leg opening. A standard above the knee short (a pair of which all men of size should have) is 9 inches. If you’re adventurous, try an 8 or 7 inch short. If you’re going for a more modest at the knee look, measure 10 inches. A length below the knee just isn’t flattering, especially if you’re shorter. Don’t do it.

Step 3: Transfer your measurements from the shorts to the pants. Make sure to measure from the same point on the pants as you did on the shorts. With your pen, mark the length.

Step 4: Folding them in half, lay the “guide” shorts on top of the pants (also folded in half), lining both up at the waist. The bottom of the shorts should line up with the measurement mark you made earlier. If they don’t that’s because the rise (or the distance between the waist and crotch) differs. If this is the case, use the measurement and mark on the pants as your guide, not the shorts.

Step 5: With the pants on the bottom and shorts on the top, fold back the top short leg leaving one leg on top of the pants. With the pants folded in half, carefully start cutting using the bottom of the shorts as your guide. If you opted not to use the shorts because of the rise, draw a line across the leg to use as your cutting guide. Use the bottom of the shorts as a template to draw the line in order to get the angle correct. Remember to cut on the line or slightly above as to not have a pen mark on the shorts. *Quick tip: Keeping the pants folded while cutting ensures both legs are cut at the same length. Cutting individually may not result in an even cut, despite measuring.

Step 6: Pull the cut pant legs away leaving the guide shorts stacked on top of the pants. Unfold both and VOILA! You’ve successfully made your own shorts. Now you get to customize.

Step 7: On this step you get to choose your choice of hem. The easiest option (and I think the best look) is to leave the bottoms frayed. Over time they will unravel and twist together. It’s a great casual summer look. To fray the bottoms, roll the cut end of the shorts between your thumb and index finger creating as much or as little fray as you like. Remember the more you fray now, the more they’ll naturally fray later, and vice versa.

For a more finished look fold the cut ends under about 1/8th of an inch and iron in a hem on the hottest setting on the iron. This hem should stay for some time. Occasional reironing after laundering may be needed.

There you have it, custom shorts cut just to your liking. A quick DIY project like this opens the doors to customzing your clothing. See a pair of pants you like and wish they were shorts? Cut them. Find a pair of shorts that are just a little too long? Cut them. The possibilities are limitless.

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