Boot cut to, um, bermudas?

I should probably start off with disclaimer that I don't know what I am doing. There may be many better ways of doing this. This might actually be the completely wrong way to do it, in fact, but it did work out ok.I was looking for some long shorts the other day, but wasn't having much luck, as they were all a tad long for me. I'm not sure what these shorts are called. I think Bermudas is the right term, but to be honest, I don't know what the difference is between crops/ pedal pushers/ capris/ bermudas/ knickerbockers/ clam diggers. I just vaguely know that they fall somewhere between short shorts and trousers. Anyway, after giving up on finding some in the shops, I made the above pair out of an old pair of jeans that were about to get holes at the knee.
I didn't want to just hem the bottom edge, as then they tend to get a little wrinkly at the back, so a bias tape type thing seemed the way to go. It's made out of two different fabrics, though: the stripey part is denim and the dotted part is a floral fabric.

Ok, here goes.
Step 1: Find a pair of old boot cut jeans. Cut the jeans at the length you wish the shorts to be:
Step 2: Cut a 4" section (I'll call it 'denim tube') from the left over section of the jeans leg. The width of this denim tube should be a tiny tiny bit wider than the width of the shorts' edge. In my case, the section at the bottom of the jeans' leg was the perfect width (ie. D to E measured slightly wider than X to Y). This is why I suggested boot cut jeans, as the left over part of tapered jeans will be too narrow.
Step 3: Cut a 4" wide strip from the floral fabric that is double the length of D to E (that is twice the width of the denim tube) plus an inch seam allowance.
Now you make the 'bias tape':
Step 4: Match up the seams of the shorts to the seams of the 4" denim tube and determine which end of the denim tube would be the bottom.
Lay the fabric strip face down on the denim tube, so that the right sides are facing each other, and pin along the bottom edge of the denim tube. Sew them together approx. 0.5" from the edge (along the dotted line). nb. The corner is only folded back in the picture to show you that the fabric is face down, the corner should be up when you sew it!
Sew the 2 ends of the fabric strip together, so that it forms a tube, to match the denim tube.
Step 5: Turn it and press along the seam.
Step 6: Draw a line 2.5" from the seam on both the denim tube and fabric, then fold both edges along these lines in towards the seam and press into place. Open it all out. It should now look like a bias tape tube, albeit with a seam where fold A usually is (see top diagram).
Now we'll attach the bias tape tube to the shorts.

Step 7: Slip the bias tape tube over the end of the shorts' leg. The fabrics on the tube should be facing inwards towards the shorts, so that the right sides are facing. The denim side of the bias tape should be the nearest side to the bottom of the shorts' leg.
Step 8: Mark a line 2.5" from the bottom of the shorts' leg. Line up the fold (C) on the denim side of the bias tape with this line and sew the two pieces together along the fold. Fold it back on itself and it should look like this:
The seam just sewn is C - marked with white dots.
Step 9: fold the bias tape along folds B and A, so that the floral fabric is inside the shorts' leg and pin. Top stitch about 0.25" from the seam A (dotted line):Step 10: Pin again, so that the fold (B) on fabric side of the bias tape is pinned next to seam C. Top stitch approx. 0.25" from seam C, making sure to catch the fabric bias tape on the inside of the shorts. This line is marked G. You're finished. You should now have a cuff on the edge of your shorts that looks like this: With a nice floral lining:Here's another picture of my scary white legs to show the finished object: I hope this was clear. I'm not the world's best at explaining things clearly and I have the feeling that I've made something that is very simple sound very complicated. It would probably help if the background noise level in this house wasn't making it hard to concentrate.. Sorry.
It doesn't help that I not only don't know clothing lingo, I also don't know sewing lingo, either. I think I have a good excuse for not knowing the clothing lingo, though, as Americans seem to have chosen to swap all the clothing terms around when coming up with their own language.
So, today's translation of the day, is all about clothes:
UK English: trousers = pants in US English
UK English: pants = panties / underwear in US English
UK English: waistcoat = vest in US English
UK English: vest = tank top / undershirt in US English
UK English: tank top = sweater vest in US English
UK English: braces = suspenders in US English
UK English: suspenders = garter belt in US English
UK English: pinafore = jumper in US English
UK English: jumper = sweater in US English
UK English: knickers = panties / woman's underpants in US English
UK English: Y-fronts = briefs / men's underpants in US English
UK English: polo neck = turtle neck in US English
UK English: dressing gown = bathrobe in US English
UK English: swimming costume / cozzie = swimsuit in US English
UK English: fancy dress = costume in US English
UK English: tights = pantyhose in US English
Do you see why I wonder if the early Americans were actively seeking to confuse when coming up with their own clothing terms?? You can probably imagine how surprised I was to hear that American soldiers were issued suspenders as part of their battle dress uniform. Being told that they used them to hold up their pants, just caused yet more confusion...
Similarly, my father-in-law was wondering what on earth I was going to wear to a pool party, when I assured him that I would be bringing my swimming costume along...
Take care, all.
PS. If you make some, please post a picture to I'd love to see how they turn out.


  1. On the east coast (especially in Boston), we kept a lot of the English words for things. When I moved to another part of the country, I found out that, for instance, most people don't throw things away in a "dustbin"!

  2. The shorts look great - I think you did a brilliant job!

    I'm loving the translations - being Australian, I'm more on the English side of things - the one thing I'll never get used to is the American 'jumper' - how on earth that describes a pinafore is beyond me.....!

    Leah xx

  3. those are so cute! i wish i was brave enough to try that!

  4. Oh, goodness, I really love this! Love that you posted how, too. It's so strange, the simplest things that never occur to me. I also was looking for these whatever-they're-called things, and yet I have too many jeans on my shelf, ready for redesigning!

  5. Loved the shorts! We lived in Scotland and England for 6 years, and the best man at a Scottish wedding, was sent to the shop where they rented the men's wear, for (Brit) "braces for his trousers", because the groom had lost weight since the fitting (nerves). Well, he walks in and, being an American, asks for "suspenders for his pants", the shop assistant nearly fell over laughing! Great stuff for the best man speech! Great post, my first time on this blog, and I really enjoyed it!

  6. I tried you tutorial & loved it. Check out my blog tomorrow, because I am totally posting about you.

  7. Finally I've found this again. But I already cut the shorts and didn't save any of the lower part of the leg hmmmmmm, what to do now? Well, with your brilliant tutorial I'm sure I'll figure it out!

  8. Dawn,

    Thanks for the tutorial. I picked up some free pants at a rummage sale, so here's my chance to try this and if it doesn't work, no loss.

    I read about your friend's dear little boy. Give him an extra hug. No one that young should have to face that. He is one brave little guy, and I wish him the very best, and his parents too. They are at least lucky to have a friend like you.


  9. found your blog thru craftster and i love it!!

    Where i am originally from, we use "british english" so when i came to Canada, though the queen sits on it, they use mostly American english.

    i still refer to pants as trousers, much to the confusion of some.

  10. Haha...
    in australia we use the word "thongs" for flip flops. a few years ago it was shocking to realise that in the US thong describes underwear the width of dental floss, which we call the G-string.
    no one is shocked now... and i wonder how long australians will keep using "thongs".

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  12. You could turn the bottom up like a cuff and have floral turnups---cottonreel

  13. Forgot to say make a bag out of the bottom parts--cottonreel

  14. Thanks for posting this! I am enjoying my new shorts. Next time, adding more pictures for each of the steps would be more helpful!

    Thanks again!

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  17. Thanks so much for this tutorial...I just turned a pair of torn maternity jeans into a cute pair of long shorts, something I hadn't been able to find in the store!

  18. Seems that when people want to change their allegiance they start by changing words, too ... and then even when speaking the same (supposedly) language people can't understand each other.

    My belief is that this is also what happened with the beloved bible.

    Did they wear shorts while building the Tower of Babel (aka Babble)?

    Thank you for an amazing blogspot.

  19. Great idea for making these amazing short jeans.
    But i love my bootcut jeans i think one time i should try these:)))