DI(fr)Yday: Tie-Dyed Cutoffs

Tie-dyed distress denim shorts cutoffs

Last weekend, Ryan's parents hosted a tie-dye party. Though never exactly hippies, his parents are very into tie dye. I couldn't decide what I would bring to dye until the night before when I saw some really cute tie-dye cutoffs in the latest issue of Bust Magazine. So, the next morning, before the party, I went thrifting and found two pair of jeans to transform.

Thrifting jeans for cutoffs is much easier than trying to find perfect, thrifted full-legnth jeans because the length doesn't matter and the cut of the leg barely matters. Here, I used a pair of white women's capri-length jeans and a pair of blue men's bootcut jeans. I like to use men's jeans because their pockets are long enough to stick out the bottom of your shorts. But you have the be careful, because mens jeans can have smaller hip-to-thigh ratios. Cut into the seams on the outside of the legs to open up the thighs a bit if you need to.

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First, I cut off the legs, leaving a 3.5-inch inseam and angling the cut slightly up toward the sides. Shorts inseams are a personal preference, and, if you're not sure how short you want your cutoffs, I recommend erring on the side of long, trying them on, and then cutting shorter if you need to. Remember to test the length sitting down as well as standing. For me, 3.5 inches is the perfect length to give me enough thigh coverage that I feel comfortable, without looking like mom shorts.

Next came the distressing. Of course, you could just fray the edges and call it a day, but I think a good distressed pair of cutoffs is so much better than a crisp pair. I hadn't distressed jeans since high school, so I gathered a bunch of supplies together: steel wool, sand paper, scissors, a craft knife. While the sand paper was great for loosening up the denim all over, the craft knife turned out to be the most indispensable tool. My friend even discovered a great method for getting those large holes with lots of strings running across: you cut only the vertical threads with the craft knife, little by little, and then use steel wool to open it up so that the uncut horizontal threads have free rein.

Tie-dyed distress denim shorts cutoffs
Tie-dyed distress denim shorts cutoffs
Tie-dyed distress denim shorts cutoffs

Finally, it was time to dye. I'm not a tie-dying expert by any means, and I'm sure there are many more informative tutorials online than I could share here. But I will tell you what methods I personally used to get these effects.

For the white shorts, I used the scrunch method. I then used yellow, green, turquoise, and purple dye in a rainbow pattern from left to right. You could just squirt color everywhere to get a more random effect, but I wanted a progressive rainbow look.

After letting the dye soak in overnight, I rinsed the shorts until the water ran clean, removed the rubber bands and rinsed them some more, and then machine washed them together in hot water to set the dye.

Tie-dyed distress denim shorts cutoffs
Tie-dyed distress denim shorts cutoffs
Tie-dyed distress denim shorts cutoffs

For the blue shorts, I used the accordion method and black dye.

Tie-dyed distress denim shorts cutoffs

This was a different project for me, since I haven't tie-dyed or distressed denim in about ten years. But I really love the results. I definitely want to experiment more with dying shorts and other things in the future.

Tie-dyed distress denim shorts cutoffs