Free Shorts for Summer

The sun is shining.

The flowers are blooming.

The grass is growing.

It’s that time of year.

Time to say goodbye to cold.

Goodbye to snow.

Goodbye to winter

and goodbye to these:

Even if it earns me the bad mother of the year award, I’m compelled to admit that by the end of the winter we have plenty of these.

Worn out jeans are the best source of shorts for back yard play; they fit, they’re free (nearly free if you have to purchase at a yard sale), they take just minutes and it’s green.

Are you ready for the world’s most basic tutorial?


  • Rotary cutter, ruler and mat for super, duper fast shorts or a pair of scissors for merely super fast shorts.
  • Um, jeans with holes in the knees and no holes above the knees.

1. Grab a child that fits into the pants and measure how long you’d like the shorts to be. Alternatively, you may skip this step and cut just above the gaping hole.

2. Cut. IMPORTANT NOTE: Please remove child from the jeans before cutting. πŸ˜€

3. Wear.

It’s much nicer if you take the time to hem the shorts, but if you have a 4 year old who can’t possibly wait a moment longer to wear his “brand new pair of shorts”, they are perfectly serviceable as is.

What other ways do you save money on clothing?

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27 Responses to Free Shorts for Summer
  1. Tara
    April 12, 2011 | 7:54 am

    I just had to cut a pair of my 7yo daughter’s jeans, and she was so excited! Never knew anyone to get so excited about a new/old pair of shorts. It’s funny to see your little one get just as excited!


  2. Sonshine
    April 12, 2011 | 8:12 am

    Love it! I do the same thing with jeans, matter of fact I have a pile of them to do for this year. πŸ™‚

    My hubby has a desk job and his long sleeve shirts end up blowing out at or just below the elbow from rubbing on the desk, so I cut the arms of the shirt off and made short sleeve shirts for him. πŸ™‚

    I love being able to save on clothes by mending. πŸ™‚


  3. Anita Chamblee
    April 12, 2011 | 8:16 am

    I am sure you do the same, but my children do wear hand me down clothing from siblings. My 2 year old wears some things that belonged to my 18 year old. We have been doing the biannual clothing purge and the two little boys ages 2 and 6 will only need one or two pairs of shoes, some socks and underwear. And they will be VERY well dressed!

    My almost 12 yo daughter has a closet full of skirts, two dresses for Sunday and tons of tops. She will need one or two pairs of shorts, some socks and shoes, but that’s about it. She would like to have some new jeans for town trips, but she will be wearing the skirts as they are so plentiful! She is now wearing some of the 22 yod discards, so that is money that I don’t have to spend as the 22 yod and 18 yos buy their own clothes. The 14 yos has started working for his dad and will be paying for some of his own clothing as well. That really saves us some money!!


  4. Kathi Bailey
    April 12, 2011 | 8:28 am

    We’ve cut off tons already this spring. (no measuring or hemming for me!). We’re going to try this:

    So cute!

    Have a warm, sunny spring day (in shorts!)!


  5. Kathi Bailey
    April 12, 2011 | 8:29 am



  6. Jama
    April 12, 2011 | 8:44 am

    Just did this last week to about a dozen pair! πŸ™‚


  7. Lisa
    April 12, 2011 | 9:00 am

    Another benefit to not hemming: Then when you wash um and they ends pray the look super awesome πŸ™‚


  8. Shannon H.
    April 12, 2011 | 9:18 am

    Well, I’m having a ‘duh’ moment. My 3 and 4 year old girls have more hand-me-down jeans than we know what to do with (and that’s after purging). And with temps already nearing the 80’s, we won’t be wearing them much. I cut off my own jeans into shorts when I was a teenager, but I had forgotten about doing that with my girls’ clothes… thanks for the reminder! They much prefer skirts, so I’m going to check out how to make them into skirts.


    Kathi Bailey Reply:

    Shannon-try this


    Shannon H. Reply:

    Thanks, Kathi- so cute… and perfect for my girls!


  9. Lauree
    April 12, 2011 | 9:21 am

    #2 cracked me up. with coffee in my mouth. not a good thing. πŸ™‚ I’ve got a couple of too short pants but still fit everywhere else I could do that with for my son. Didn’t even think of that.thanks!


  10. Cheryl @Treasures from a Shoebox
    April 12, 2011 | 9:22 am

    We have plenty of these jeans this spring too (goes with the territory of raising boys I suppose). We shop at consignment sales (two near us that are held twice a year each!) and a church that has most everything for a quarter (we call this the Twenty-Five Cents store). GW Boutique (Goodwill) is saved for emergencies (they are expensive IMO) or 1/2 price days.


  11. Trooppetrie
    April 12, 2011 | 9:34 am

    I have almost a identical post ready for later this week. in general my girls do not wear shorts but this year i have made several shorts to wear in the back yard. my 5 year old can still wear 3T and 4 pants but they are shorts so this is perfect


  12. Dawn@OneFaithfulMom
    April 12, 2011 | 10:02 am

    My mom does ours cause they do get hemmed…she curently has 10 prs awaiting their makeover!! This is one of the best ideas ever; we’ve been doing it for several yrs! One of my little boys had a pr of camo pants he loved SO much, til the knees completely blew out. He was so surprised and happy the other day when my mom brought him those pants, as shorts!!


  13. Abbie
    April 12, 2011 | 10:16 am

    You are not a bad mother. Frugal! Or as I refer to myself, cheap, but it works. In fact, we had so many “holey” jeans this year (the first time) that I have them stacked up and ready to be shorted on my list of sewing activities. I’m hoping my new serger will speed up the hemming process!


  14. Becky
    April 12, 2011 | 10:26 am

    I plan to cut straight across the chest of a worn out favorite shirt of mine, make an elastic casing, put in some elastic, and I will have a skirt for my 4 year old. I also have bought women’s dresses on super clearance at Target to make skirts for my girls-way cheaper than buying fabric!!


  15. Kat
    April 12, 2011 | 10:47 am

    haha I love your “important note” to remove the child first. phew I mighta forgotten that step. =)

    we do a lot of hand-me-downs for the little kids and thrift stores if we absolutely “need” something.


  16. Kim
    April 12, 2011 | 12:17 pm

    I am so glad I am not alone in having boys with holey jeans by the end of summer. After the jeans have gone through several kids or have come from a consignment store, they don’t always last. But at least now I don’t have to buy shorts! I love it!


  17. Nikki
    April 12, 2011 | 1:03 pm

    Kimberly- I like you even more after reading this tutorial and knowing you don’t necessarily hem them! I do the same thing.

    1. Pants with holes.
    2. Rotary cutter.
    3. Excited recipient.

    Tada! Shorts!

    I’ve got about four pairs waiting to be transformed.


  18. StaceyC
    April 12, 2011 | 1:19 pm

    After you have cut the legs off you can use those “scraps” to make pots holders (sew or tie squares double thickness) or if you quilt they make great denim quilt squares for a medium weight throw blanket. Never throw away denim too many good things to make with it.


  19. Church Mouse
    April 12, 2011 | 3:26 pm

    I sew patches over the holes a time or two before turning them into cut offs. (Works best if you patch before the hole gets too big.) First I cut a piece of iron on interfacing and cover the hole (gives more strength), then I cut a cute piece of fabric into an interesting shape, turn over each side about 1/4″ and iron, then zig zag into place. Works great! I even do this on my own jeans!


  20. Jamie
    April 12, 2011 | 5:07 pm

    nice :). Your spring posts always make me a tad envious. We definitely a little while before we can cart out the shorts. But then I remember that you all have more bugs and creepy crawly things *shudder* than we have and I’m happy again ;). Happy Springtime to your family!


  21. Marilyn Brauer
    April 13, 2011 | 12:24 pm

    Thanks for the reminder to remove the child from the pants before cutting, sometimes I get overly eager πŸ™‚ I love basic things that make a big difference and the kids get excited about!


  22. Rhen @Yes, they are all mine
    April 13, 2011 | 11:50 pm

    Glad to know that I am not the only one who is cheap, um, I mean frugal enough to make shorts for the kids from well-loved jeans! πŸ™‚


  23. JoyfulMom
    April 18, 2011 | 8:01 pm

    For my 12 year old girl, I took her barely worn, recently purchased pants that she had grown out of and made them into capri pants in a simular way.

    I used the bottom part of the pants and made her a matching purse!

    It isn’t easy for us to find shorts that aren’t way too short so this is the way to go! Very simple to do for even the most beginner sewer!


  24. Melissa
    April 20, 2011 | 12:34 pm

    My grandmother collects worn out jeans and makes quilts with them. You could easily do that with just the legs you’ve cut off. Every child (and now grandchild) of hers that gets married is given a queen-sized denim quilt. They’re perfect for picnics, sitting on the beach, camping, and keeping in the back of the car. I remember one Sunday my dad had to change a tire on the way to church: he laid the denim quilt on the ground to keep his white shirt clean. So many good memories, all courtesy of repurposed denim. πŸ™‚


  25. Jacqueline Boj-Sode
    April 21, 2011 | 3:56 am

    Oh please tell me that having pants like that at the end of winter does not make one a bad mom; if true, then I am a bad, bad, bad, bad mom. ;-D
    Is there an easy way to hem the shorts without a sewing machine or sewing skill?


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