Turn jeans into cute shorts

Learning to sew for practical reasons

The other day I read this article from Little Lamb Studios about finding a home in your body. I’ve been thinking about the craft/DIY community lately, and how a huge part of it is making things that no one wants to sell you anyway.

I’ve spent almost my whole life in a struggle with my weight and appearance, but I know that’s not a unique experience. Most women (and some men) experience body dysphoria at some point in their lives, or throughout their whole lives. While most people would now label me as average(ish), I was much heavier at various points in my life. Finding clothes was a nightmare (still is, but for different reasons), and learning to knit was a big step forward in making things that fit me properly, that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and that didn’t look like mass-produced circus tents. I didn’t sew then, not really, but I did knit.

I moved to another country (four times), I changed my habits, I lost weight, my shape changed. (Note: I did not go on some crash diet with the intention of losing weight, I made slow, sustainable changes like eating healthier, drinking more water, and being active. Weight loss shouldn’t be the end goal, health should be. Don’t bounce into the comments here telling me about obesity as an epidemic etc etc because I assure you I’ve heard it all before and I am 500% not interested.) I still have trouble finding clothes, and a lot of that is rooted in practicality and identity.

I’ve never been comfortable in short shorts, and you know why?


I could go on some crash diet and lose 60 pounds, and I still wouldn’t have a thigh gap. It’s not how I’m built: I’m from the stock of farmers and pioneers, and I have LEGS. Those legs get hella angry when you subject them to high temperatures and friction. Ouch.

Whyyyy is finding knee length shorts SO IMPOSSIBLE? Yes, I’ve bought from the men’s section before, but men do not have hips. I have hips, wide ones, and by the time I find men’s shorts big enough for my hips, I could easily smuggle kilos of yarn in the legs of the shorts with all that extra room. It looks odd and unbalanced. It seems like women’s shorts are almost always waayyyy shorter than the men’s, and I’m just like,


If you like short shorts, that’s awesome, truly. You do you! But I don’t want to spend my summer nursing heat rash thighs and walking like John Wayne.

And yes, I tried ordering online. I got sent IKEA short-overalls, with sewn closed buttonholes and nothing was attached. Tres bizarre, I know.

And then: a Pinterest idea, a sewing machine, a friend, and some old jeans.

I’m no stranger to turning jeans into shorts, but it usually involves sloppy hacking with old scissors out of heated desperation right around now, the third week in June. I wanted something else, something that wouldn’t fray or look like garbage.

I found this tutorial on Pinterest, and I had a EUREKA moment. That eureka moment was to ask Jess from my stitch & bitch group to help me, because I am a helpless baby bird who needs constant hand holding when it comes to sewing.

Jess brought her impressively huge Mama-Jama fancypants sewing machine, since mine is garbage and won’t hold tension, and sure af will not sew through denim.


Turn jeans into cute shorts

With Jess’ help and guidance, I did an actual thing, and I didn’t mess it up! It’s like MAGIC. These shorts fit well (having been recommissioned from an old pair of jeans with fraying hems at the bottom), it let me use some of my animal print fabric that I got from Liberty last year, and it’s simple enough that I can probably attempt it again on my own with less hand holding and guidance.

I know it’s not A BIG DEAL, especially to experienced sewers, but it is to me! Seeing as I’m headed to Madrid next month, you can bet I’ll be hacking apart many pairs of jeans to be made into funky new shorts. Aw, yes.


3 Replies to “Learning to sew for practical reasons”

  1. I totally get it. The only reason why I want to learn to sew is so I could have clothes that fit. Went through all that looking for not-that-shirt-shorts recently and failed, but I also discovered powder from Lush that helps with chub rub. I had to reapply during a long hot day full of walking but my thighs stayed happy and safe.

    1. I didn’t have any ‘bought’ clothes until I was 18 yo. Before that my mother had made all my clothes (except socks and bras). Yes, she even made my school uniform. She made all my outfits for ballet. She made my underwear, my pyjamas and my swimming costumes (crochet… so very not cool- you should see those things drag down when wet- not pretty). These were the days when it was actually cheaper to make than to buy clothing. Imagine that!
      At the end of all those years I had no idea how to pick out clothes that suited me. I could pick out a pattern and some fabric, but once it was made I had to wear it- there was no option to decide then if I liked it on me.
      So at 18, shopping became a new experience for me. It’s taken me a long time and I’m still not good at it. And even then, the only time I’ve had clothes that fit were when I made them myself. My shoulders are narrow but my bust is very big, so it’s really hard to get a good fit on a shirt or jacket. There are way too many parts on me that are not ‘standard’ and my weight has fluctuated greatly over the years.
      The only problem is, sewing takes time and space and I’ve often lived somewhere too small to be able to lay out the fabric and pattern on the floor to cut it out. On top of that, the price of patterns and fabric (let alone decent threads, buttons, zips, etc) has gone through the roof. There are barely any fabric stores left in Australia these days so that’s also narrowed down my options.
      Thank goodness I’m no fashionista and I don’t follow trends. But I do know what I like and don’t like. Like you, I don’t like short shorts. Even when I had the gap between the thighs I didn’t like them. So it’s not just a comfort thing- it’s just a preference.
      Wouldn’t it be good if we could order up clothes to be custom made for us, in the fabric (the texture, the weight, the colours and pattern) we chose, with everything fitting in the right places? (Without it costing an arm and a leg?)

      1. You might check out eShakti, they do a lot of custom work. Unfortunately even then their styles aren’t very “me!”

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