Cut-offs, both bought and handmade, can be the perfect solution. As a fix to recycling worn-out jeans, or a weekend project with a great thrift store or vintage find, do-it-yourself cut-offs can be the best part of a versatile summer wardrobe.

Your “one-of-a-kind” piece requires a few tools of the fashion trade, along with your chosen pair of jeans. You will need a marking tool, scissors, and an X-Acto knife. An X-Acto knife is used to create additional “cuts” in the denim, giving it a more distressed feel.

While optional, this helps to mix it up and creates an edgier, more current look and feel.

If you have purchased a new pair of jeans for your project, wash the jeans in hot water and dry them on your hottest dryer setting. This ensures that the denim is pre-shrunk and your leg lengths will remain true and equal.

If you bought a “worn-in vintage find,” or are using an old pair of jeans, you may disregard this step. Next, put the pants on and lightly mark the length you are wanting for your shorts.

Always mark a little on the longer side, just in case. Make sure to mark the front and back. A 1-2 inseam works well. You can always cut more later.

Remove the marked jeans. Iron the jeans, one leg at a time, so that you have a smooth pair of pants that will allow for an even cut.

Once ironed, you are ready to cut! Using a ruler, mark the lines at your desired cut point, establishing a straight cut. Fold the jeans in half and cut. This will help ensure that both sides are cut evenly.

Try on the pants once again to see if you need to cut off more of the length. Check that both sides are cut evenly. After you have cut your new shorts, play with distressing and embellishments.

Using an X-Acto knife on a cutting mat, slit horizontal lines in the denim. This will create frayed “cuts” upon your next washing.

Wash the jeans in a load of their own to avoid unwanted tears if the new frays were to get caught on other pieces of clothing.

If you have simple sewing experience, the options are endless. …

Want more? Read the rest of the article in the SUMMER 2013 issue of RUNWAY, in-stores & on newsstands now WORLDWIDE!

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