How To Make Distressed Ombre Shorts For Around $5

Ombre Shorts ~

DIY Ombre Shorts: How To Make Distressed Shorts For Around $5

Here recently I have been seeing these amazing ombre shorts in almost every store I walk into! Big stores such as Forever21, Hollister,  Charlotte Russe, and Rue 21 carry them in many different designs, but at a price that most just can’t afford. That is why I want to show you how to make your own ombre shorts (with some distressed parts).

Save Money: Buy An Old Pair Of Jeans At Goodwill For This Project

First, I went to Goodwill and bought a pair of high-waisted  Levi Strauss jeans (the kind that Monica and Rachel wore in Friends) for about $4.00! Keep in mind that you can use just about any kind of jeans for this, I  just wanted my shorts to be high-waisted! Warning: You want to stay away from skinny jeans when making ombre shorts as they will make you look like you are wearing spandex and you probably don’t want that!

DIY Ombre Shorts: How To Make Distressed Shorts For Around $5

To Make Ombre Shorts You Will Need…

  • Pair of jeans
  • Scissors
  • Fabric pencil or anything that will mark on denim
  • Spray bottle
  • Household bleach
  • A trash bag
  • Sunshine :)

Next you want to put them on and use a pencil or a fabric marker to draft a line of about where you want to cut them (keep in mind it doesn’t have to be exact). Also, it is ALWAYS best to start longer and make your way shorter; if you mess up and go too short right away, there is no way to fix it! Personally, I cut my shorts at an angle with the length shorter on the outer thighs and longer on the inner, but feel free to cut them to whatever fits your taste!

Ombre Shorts: How To Distress The Fabric

Once you have got the shorts to the length you desire, feel free to add any kind of tears, rips, or designs you like! To make your shorts look distressed as if they were professional, use scissors to cut a slice at the top of the area you want. Then cut another slice right under {parallel to} the first and repeat until you have the length that you want. Afterwards, take your scissors and use them to go back and forth on each individual piece of denim (be careful because if you do it too hard, you could end up tearing the fabric all the way through).

DIY Ombre Shorts: How To Make Distressed Shorts For Around $5

Next, I cut a simple square in the lower portion of my shorts (you can also use the back and forth motion around the edges of the square to help with the fraying). Make sure you cut the square on a piece of denim that has pocket lying underneath it (be careful not to cut the pocket). To fray the bottoms of your newly cut shorts, take your scissors and cut little tiny cuts all along the bottoms, then use a back and forth motion {similar to crosshatching). Keep in mind that after putting your shorts in the washer and dryer, they will fray much more, so be conservative.

DIY Ombre Shorts: How To Make Distressed Shorts For Around $5

Now, to begin the Ombre shorts process. First, you are going to need a spray bottle, bleach, a trash bag and a sunny day! Fill the bottle up with bleach and just a dab of water! For the bleaching, you are going to want to go outside so that the bleach doesn’t cause breathing problems or stain anything! Go outside and lie your trash bag in the area that you want to do the project. Then lie your shorts on them and grab your bottle! Make sure to do this project on a sunny day because it will speed up the process tremendously!

DIY Ombre Jeans Shorts Supplies

DIY Ombre Jeans Shorts Supplies

Take the spray bottle and spray (practically soak) the very bottom of the shorts. Now, as you move up the shorts, pull the bottle further and further away from the shorts so that they are getting less and less covered by the bleach! Feel free to bleach however high up the shorts you like, I took mine to about the middle! When bleaching, make sure to get the crotch area, I had forgotten this and had to come back and redo it!

Let These Babies Soak Up Some Sun!

Now, let them sit in the hot sun and check on them every 20 minutes. You will know they are done when they are white in the bleached areas! It took my shorts about 30 minutes, but it really depends on how hot and sunny it is that day. Without the sun, it could take hours! Now that you are done bleaching, take your shorts inside to a sink or bathtub and rinse them out with cold water. Afterwards, put them in the washing machine on delicate. The reason for this is that the bleach has caused the denim to become weak and can easily cause tearing.

DIY Ombre Shorts: How To Make Distressed Shorts For Around $5

As you can see, mine tore and I had to sew them up (no worries, when they are on you can’t even tell)! Lastly, put them in the dryer, then take them out when they are dry and enjoy your new beautiful shorts that look like something bought straight out of a designer store!

DIY Ombre Shorts: How To Make Distressed Shorts For Around $5


DIY Ombre Shorts: How To Make Distressed Shorts For Around $5


Have You Ever Made Ombre Shorts? If So, How Did It Work Out For You?

About Amber {contributor}

Amber is a college student and avid fashionista. Amber loves all things beauty and fashion and spends her time reading and thinking about Channing Tatum.


  1. I’ve done this with a couple shirts, but did it by dipping the shirt in water, then bleach-water mix and letting it sit for quite awhile. Didn’t think to do the spray method… it’s a good one though! Pinned so that I can remember to try it out.

  2. I would cut mine a big longer I think. I wouldn’t want to scare my neighbors with my thigh fat flappin’ around. Although at my age it more sags than flaps these days….

    Very cool idea though and so cost effective!

    • Dawn McAlexander says:

      Haha! Fortunately Amber is a skinny little thing, so her booty fits in them. However, I would need them much longer, too. :P

  3. Jenna Wood says:

    I have several pairs of old torn jeans I could crop for this project, thanks for the tutorial!

  4. Love this idea!

  5. Sherry Compton says:

    Great tips. These definitely aren’t for me, but I was interested in how you were going to do it. I love home much care and attention you put into distressing them. If you don’t pay attention, I was afraid they would come out looking like you took scissors to them or tacky, but yours really look like the ones in the stores and professional. Good idea about buying jeans from thrift shop and cutting them off. I wouldn’t have cut so much…haha…but the overall effect is perfect.

    • Dawn McAlexander says:

      Another good thing about buying them from the thrift store is if you mess them up in the process, you aren’t out so much cash, either. :)

  6. I am doing this TODAY!

  7. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    The spray method is a great idea that I have not yet used. Thanks for the tutorial. You are right that they can look just as good for a fraction of the price.

  8. Great idea, with all the pairs of jeans most teens have and no longer want to wear great way to make them “new” again and awesome $$ saver!

  9. Great idea, I may not make my shorts so ….uhh short lol … but very useful idea to refresh old clothing!
    I’m passing this along to some friends who are always trying to do new things with old clothes.

  10. well, although those are cute…you wouldn’t catch me wearing shorts that short, lol!

    • Although they may seem short, I tried them on prior to cutting them so that I would know the length that I desired. My legs are quite short so the shorts aren’t extremely short on me. But, you can always cut the shorts to whatever length fits you best.

  11. I try to keep my jeans from looking like that. At least you have an inexpensive way to do it instead of paying for jeans that come that way.

  12. These are too fun! I don’t wear shorts…but I bet this could look awesome on a tee!

  13. I love when people find a cheap way to make something that is really trendy. Great job!

  14. Love this! I live in shorts (Florida) and am always looking for something new. I have done the dip dye ombre Tees but never thought about doing denim shorts. I have short legs so I understand about needing the shorts to be short and I am almost 50.

  15. Totally love this! I am practically in shorts and tees all year round as they are very comfy in our tropical weather. You did a fantastic job! And thanks for the tutorial!

  16. What a simple idea – I would have thought it would have taken so much more to have made them.

    Thank you for link up with the I Love My Post Blog Hop

    Life in a Break Down

  17. These are so adorable and the other post wwhere your daughter modeled them was wonderful too! Thanks for linking this up last week on the Verizon Voices Fashionista Style Hop. Head on over this week and link up here: We’d love have more of your style. And sign up for our weekly reminders too!

  18. Ver cute idea- we used to do something alot like this years ago! (back when I could wear short shorts) Love this!

  19. Allie Clark says:

    Thanks for this! I pretty much live in shorts and definitely love the ombre look!

  20. These are super cute! Love how easy they are to make! And cheap too!

  21. Thanks for sharing this idea! I’ve never done this before, but I could really see myself having these for the summer months :)

  22. Judy Gregory says:

    Great idea! I don’t mean this negatively but, because this type of item quite often goes “out” faster than it goes “in”, it’s great to not have a small fortune invested.

    • Dawn McAlexander says:

      I agree. I try not to spend too much on anything that is very stylized as they don’t often stay in style long.

  23. Great idea! I will be trying this!