How to Make High Waisted Shorts

Three Methods:Find a Pair of JeansMake High Waisted ShortsAdd Flare to the Shorts

High waisted shorts are everywhere this year. High waisted shorts are any shorts with a waistband that falls above the navel, and they can look great with a tank top or a tailored blouse. They're a perfect alternative for women who don't like the feel of hip-hugging pants, and you can easily make a pair of high waisted shorts from any old pair of pants. If you want to know how to make a pair of high waisted shorts, just follow these easy steps.

Method 1
Find a Pair of Jeans

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    Find a cute pair of high waisted jeans. If you want to make high waisted shorts, then you have to find a pair of jeans with the right waist height.This could be an old pair of jeans in the back of your closet, a pair of jeans given to you by a friend, or one that you snagged at Goodwill. It doesn't matter where the jeans came from as long as you don't mind cutting them up.
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    Make sure you like the way the jeans fit. Don't just start cutting up your old pants -- try them on to make sure you like their high waisted look. They should feel comfortable and the waist should be the right height. If the pants are too baggy, they'll fall down below your waist and you won't be able to make high waisted shorts from them.

Method 2
Make High Waisted Shorts

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    Mark the desired length of your shorts while you're wearing the pants. You have to keep the pants on when you mark the shorts in the front so you have a more accurate sense of how long the shorts should be. You can use a black felt tip pen, tailor’s chalk, or even a piece of chalkboard chalk. Simply make a mark each leg of the pants so you can use it as a guideline when you’re ready to cut.
    • If you want to hem the shorts, be sure to allow enough material for hemming; otherwise, your new shorts might be too short for your liking.
    • Mark the shorts a bit longer than you want them to be, to leave some room for error.
    • You should try to mark the back of the pants as you're wearing them, but you can mark the back more accurately after you take them off.
    • You can also lay a pair of your favorite shorts on top of the slacks and mark your cutting line that way—you’ll know you’re getting just the length you want.
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    Lay the marked pants on a flat surface. Fold them together and draw your cutting line mark all the way around both legs of the slacks. If you want an even cut, you can pin the two halves together so that they don’t slip and slide while you are marking them.
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    Cut the shorts with a pair of sewing scissors. Make sure the scissors are sharp, especially if you are cutting through denim. Make slow short cuts to make sure that you're cutting along the line you marked evenly. If you make a drastic cut that makes the shorts too short, you won't be able to undo the damage.

Method 3
Add Flare to the Shorts

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    Cut the pants for a distressed look. High waisted shorts look cute if they're distressed, so you can use pinking shears, a box cutter, or an Exacto knife horizontally across the place where you want the rips to be. You should try to create at least one distressed part on each pant leg, and try not to line them up too evenly.
    • Don't worry if it doesn't look natural -- once you wash your shorts, they will naturally fray and they will look like they've been distressed for years.
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    Hem the shorts. If you want your shorts to be hemmed instead of looking frayed or cut-off at the end, then you can hem them. This will also help them look more even if you didn't cut them perfectly. Here's how you can easily hem your shorts:
    • Turn the shorts inside out.
    • Fold the edges up to your desired length.
    • Stitch the hem with a needle and thread or on a sewing machine.
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    Dye the shorts. Buy some clothing dye and follow the directions on the package. Pick a fun and funky color like hot pink or lime green. Dyeing works best on lighter-colored shorts.


  • You can also put studs on the pockets or anywhere and use fabric paint to make leopard prints or other figures! Be creative & confident!
  • Denim shorts can easily be made to look distressed. You can bleach them by hand or in a washing machine. You can also yank a little piece of the back pocket down so that it looks ripped.
  • Dye your new shorts if you aren’t crazy about their color or pattern. You can dye dark blue denim; it comes out best if you use bright colors.
  • Try wearing a blouse untucked and add a belt or a sash around your waist.


  • This style isn’t very flattering if you are short waisted (if your legs are long and your torso is short).

Things You’ll Need

  • Old pair of slacks or jeans
  • Black felt tip pen or chalk
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread or sewing machine (optional)

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Sewing Pants