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I was a guest blogger over at Imagine Gnats last summer and didn’t post my full tutorial here on my site.  By the time I remembered, we were having cooler weather, so I thought waiting until the weather was warming up to post this would work out better.  So here is my post on how to upcycle jeans into shorts.  The series was called Shorts on the Line.

Hi everyone!  My name is April and I blog at Sewing Novice.  I hope you are enjoying all of the great posts for shorts on the line.  I unfortunately couldn’t put my shorts on the line, so shorts in a line will have to do.


My daughter wore holes in her jeans before she outgrew them, so I thought the perfect thing to do would be to make them into shorts.  I was just starting to think about how I was going to do this when Rachael emailed me asking if I wanted to do a guest post for shorts on the line.  I of course said yes and thought it would be perfect to do mini tutorials for each version.


  • Jeans
  • Jean needle (highly recommended)
  • Binding (binding version only)
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape

Keeping the Original Hem

I made one pair by keeping the original hem.  I followed the same process as you would use to hem a pair of jeans with keeping the original hem.  There is a great step by step tutorial here.


This pair is actually a longer short/capri because the pant legs get a little wider toward the top of the leg, so the hem would have become wrinkled if I made them short enough.  This was also the most challenging refashion of all three, but it’s still easy enough for a beginner.

As you can see in the above picture, I folded the bottom of the leg up as much as I could and pinned it in place.  I was then going to sew the hem into place, and then check my work before cutting off the excess material.


As you can see in this picture, I had to cut the excess off a little first because the pant leg wouldn’t fit on my machine!  These are 18 month pants, so I don’t recommend trying this for any pair of pants that are smaller than that.

I could still barely fit the pants on the machine, but I managed and even still had to help the material through.  Next, I sewed right up against the original hem.  I used my walking foot with my edger plate attached.  This would not be necessary, but is definitely helpful.


I then unfolded what I just sewed so that I could make sure it looked ok.  Once I knew it did, I cut off the excess material leaving about 1/4 of an inch.  Then I used an overlock stitch (serger if you have one or zigzag stitch if you don’t have either) to help keep the edge from fraying.

Next, I unfolded them again, and ironed the excess material up toward the waist, being sure to pull the seam apart a little so that it goes as unnoticed as possible.  The goal here is to get the seam as flat as possible.


Here is the finished product!

Cutting Off the Legs


For the next two versions you will first cut off the legs before refashioning.  My suggestion for this is to lay the jeans down with the bottom of the legs even.  Then measure up from the bottom and cut.  This will then account for the extra fabric that is needed in the butt of the jeans.  When they are laid down it will seem as if the front is a lot shorter than the back, but again, this is because of the butt.

Frayed Edges

This is the easiest version, but my least favorite.  When I first thought about doing this, I was thinking 80’s styles shorts with pockets showing and all the frays hanging down….and that is the exact opposite of what I wanted.  I did a little research and found that they are actually kind of in style, or at least I assume since I found that Old Navy carries some similar shorts.


First, cut the shorts about 3/4” longer than the final length that you want the shorts.  Fold up similar to the picture above about 3/4” and pin in place.  Next, sew with about a 1/2” seam allowance with a small stitch length.  The reason I did this was because I didn’t want to take a chance that the fraying would go below my stitching.


I then pulled threads to make the shorts fray even more and cut off any of the long threads that were now hanging down.  I did this a little before and after washing.  It formed a fuzzy fray instead of the long whitish threads hanging down.


This would be my favorite version, but it also takes the most work, especially if you make your own binding.  If you do want to make your own binding, but don’t know how, be sure to check out my binding tutorial.  You can also use bias tape, but it’s not necessary to actually cut it on the bias.  I actually had this binding leftover from another project and am loving it on these shorts!

In order to make these, you need to know how to sew on binding.  Check out this tutorial and this one in order to help you get a general idea of how to do it by machine.  Each machine is a little different, so you might want to practice on scrap fabric if you have never worked with binding or bias tape before.


I sewed the binding to the inside of the pant leg first, and then folded it toward the outside and sewed from the outside.  The reason I did this is because I am not the best at sewing on binding and I knew that doing it this way would look the best.  Yes, you see stitching on the binding, but to me, that looks better than to see partial stitching on the jean part and part on the binding.

I hope you enjoyed my versions of refashioning jeans into shorts.

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You might remember the Retro Bag that I made for myself toward the end of last year.  Shortly after I got the One Yard Wonder books (one and two) my sister was looking through them and noticed the Retro Bag.  She mentioned that she liked it and well, to be honest, when I made one for myself, I completely forgot that she told me that she liked it.


I kept telling her that I was going to make her a bag, but I didn’t really know what fabric she would like.  So each time I saw her, I would try to get ideas of what fabric she liked.  Finally, I decided that she liked blues and found this (dear Stella Ikebana Ziggy Stripe Charcoal) from Pink Chalk Fabrics.  I sent her an email with links to multiple fabrics I thought she would like and this was her favorite.  So I ordered some!


I decided that I was going to use a solid color for the lining.  I purchased a Kona color card just for projects like this.  Unfortunately, I had to wait until I received this fabric before ordering the solid so that I could perfectly match the colors, but I’m ok with that.  I am cheap frugal? so I tend to wait until I can find fabric on sale.  (I guess that is the accountant in me.)  I also had a few other solids that I wanted to order, so it worked out.

I asked my sister if she wanted the green or the blue as the solid color and she chose green.  Which also was my first choice, so I was glad she chose the green.


The bag turned out just how I was hoping and my sister seemed to really like it.  Which is always a bonus!  If you remember from my post about the one I made for myself, I mentioned how the strap was slightly thinner than the top part of the bag and that I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be like that.  Well, it turned out the same way this time, so I am officially saying that it is supposed to be like that.

The pattern calls for O-rings and I have yet to find any that I like so I eliminated them on the bag once again.  If you know of somewhere to purchase them, please let me know!  I prefer the flat ones so they look more decorative.

One more thing…did you notice the new blog design?  My husband took it upon himself to completely redesign the blog.  Isn’t it great?  Clean, fresh, and easy to navigate.  Hopefully you can easily find the projects/topics/etc that you are looking for.  Let me know what you think so I can let my husband know.

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One of the first projects I made was a toiletry bag.  I have used it since I made it, but have never really liked it.  I actually messed up the boxed corners on that bag so it made it tall, but not the easiest to get into.  I could never find what I was looking for without taking everything out first.


When I saw the tutorial on Anna’s blog, Noodlehead, for an open wide zippered pouch I knew that I wanted to make one for a new toiletry bag.  And I had the perfect fabric….Domestic Bliss Pink Beaded Curtain and Kona Cotton Camellia, both purchased from Fat Quarter Shop.


I made the largest size that she gives dimensions for and it’s a perfect size for all of my stuff. When making it, I thought it was going to be gigantic. Now, it is pretty large, but no where near gigantic. Height wise, it’s a perfect fit for my contact solution and length wise at the bottom, it’s about the length of a wide tooth comb.


The top of the bag is wider than the bottom because of the boxed corners.  The boxed corners help it stand on it’s own and fit more in it.  If you are anything like me, you probably don’t really enjoy making boxed corners.  I feel like no matter what I do, the seams never line up perfectly.


The zipper installation was a new way for me to install zippers, but I really like how it works.  I did have an issue with the metal pieces not being away from the edge by the same distance, but I just had to adjust my seam allowance when sewing the whole thing together. 


Also, this end of the zipper isn’t perfect, but I think that it will just take some practice.  It’s a little challenging to move the zipper out of the seam allowance, but I think if the other end of my zipper would have been more even, this wouldn’t have been as difficult. 




Here you can see just how wide it truly opens.  It really is an awesome pouch and I just might have to make a smaller one for my makeup.  Anna offers 3 different sizes for her tutorial, but I think it would be easy enough to use your own dimensions.  Especially after you have already made one.

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One of Lillian’s daycare friends turned 3 in January and I found out from her mom that she loves playing with dolls.  So I thought it would be a perfect birthday gift to make her doll accessories, including a diaper bag!  Remember the baptism dress that I made?  This little girl is the older sister to the baby. 


I decided to make her a diaper bag, burp clothes (or they could be blankets), diapers, bibs, wipes, and a case for the wipes.  Everything fits inside the diaper bag, plus there is still room for few more things, such as bottles.


I used my own design for the diaper bag. Actually it’s the same pattern as the beach bag that I made, except smaller, of course, and I added a recessed zipper.  I wouldn’t want all of the doll’s stuff to fall out after all.


There are four pockets on the outside and four on the inside.  Pockets are always helpful and kids love them!  So really, you can’t go wrong with adding pockets.



Here is a picture of the recessed zipper.  Since the side pieces are sewn to the front and back pieces, I would extend the zipper to the edge of the front and back pieces the next time I make this bag with a zipper.  It just wasn’t open quite as much as I would have liked.  It’s still perfectly useable and I’m sure no one else noticed, but it’s just my preference.


I got the wipes case idea from this tutorial.  Christina used fleece, so I had to figure out how to get it to work with cotton which would fray if there were any raw edges.  I have to admit that I did leave raw edges on the inside, but used pinking shears on them.  I don’t normally like to do that, but it was a wipe case so I figured it wasn’t a big deal.

The wipes are just two 5 x 5 squares sewn wrong sides together, then turned, and topstitched to close the opening.  Super easy and quick. 


The bibs were not really that much fun to make.  I should have made them a tad larger, but wanted the diapers and wipes to fit the same size doll.  They look decent, but definitely aren’t my best work.  I don’t think the dolls will notice though.  I based them off of this tutorial/pattern, but changed the size and only used one fabric design instead of two.


If you have been reading my blog since close to the beginning, then you might remember that I made a doll diaper for Lillian.  I used the same tutorial for these as I did when I made Lillian’s.  It’s easy to follow and the diapers turn out super cute.


Here is the doll that I used to make sure everything would fit.  I am not sure what kind it is, but I do know it was purchased from Target.  When I looked there recently though, they didn’t have these anymore.  It’s a pretty small doll, maybe 14 inches, but I’m not really sure.


Another easy one is the burp rags, or blankets if you prefer.  Again, just cut two pieces of fabric the same size.  Sew wrong sides together, leaving an opening for turning.  Turn, and top stitch.  I used flannel for these, but you could really use any fabric you would like.


Here is a behind the scenes picture.  Lillian and I are prepping the doll for her picture.  Mark (my husband) takes most of the final product pictures, but Lillian and I help to get things set up.

What gifts have you made for young children?  Any one else make doll accessories before?

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Congrats to Em Helen for being the winner of the three pattern bundle pack to Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop!  She was actually the first person to enter, and said “Well I sewed doll clothes when I was a kid… But if you do not count that, only a year or so but really only a few projects, so far.”

Peek a Boo summer 2 250x250

Em, I sent you an email, but if you didn’t get it then email me or leave a comment.  Thanks to everyone that entered!