Welcome to our article helping you change the look of your jean shorts for cheap at home. 

Alterations like fraying, ripping and distressing the denim are quick, cheap and relatively simple to add a bit of style or change up the look of an old pair of jean shorts.

Follow our step-by-step article showing you how to turn any pair of jeans into shorts.

Table of Contents

How To Fray Jean Shorts

How To Fray Jean Shorts

Total Time: 30 min

Cost: $0

We need to cover a few basics before you start fraying your denim shorts. Set your jeans up with these first steps and then create the look you are striving for.

While your doing your shorts you can put your full length denim pants beside them on the table and fray your jeans.

1. Work in small sections to avoid holes that are too big

Cutting holes in your jean shorts will make them fray over time, and picking the threads out with tweezers or a seam ripper speeds up that process. Work in sections about 1 in (2.5 cm) large to avoid fraying your shorts too much.

this is a photo of jean shorts with a small area highlighted to fray

2. Create a small cut in your jeans shorts with scissors

Since tweezers and seam rippers are mostly for pulling thread, you’ll have to open up your jean shorts first. Use scissors to make a small cut where you’d like the frayed hole to be.

this is a photo of scissors cutting jean shorts to fray them

3. Use tweezers or seam rippers to pick out loose threads

Grab a pair of tweezers or seam rippers and use them to pick out loose threads as you see them in your shorts. On denim shorts, the threads are usually lighter than the outside of the jeans, so they’ll be easy to grab.

This is a photo of tweezers pulling loose threads on jean shorts

Fray Jean Shorts With A Razor

  1. Lay your shorts out on a flat surface. You don’t need to iron your shorts, but make sure they mainly lay flat, so you can work on them efficiently. Work on a flat surface, like a table or a countertop, so your shorts don’t roll away.
  2. Put a piece of cardboard inside your shorts. Find the area you’d like to start working on, then grab a piece of cardboard and cut it so it fits inside your shorts. Slide the cardboard inside your shorts to protect the other side of the material as you use your razor.
  3. Use a straight razor to create holes in the shorts. Take the sharp end of your razor for small holes and carefully cut it in a straight line. Press down hard enough to make a clean cut, then rub the edges of the hole with your fingers to fray the loose threads.
  4. Scrape a disposable razor across the hems and edges. To fray, the edges of your shorts, grab a disposable shaving razor and place it flat down on your shorts. Rub it quickly back and forth to scuff up the material and make some frays.

Helpful Information

1. Rip - fray - distress

Changing the look of the denim fabric on your jean shorts sometimes will be used interchangeably depending on the brand or fashion blog you read. But each of these names has a separate action. Ripping means creating a tear or a hole in your shorts’ fabric, distressing means making the shorts look worn-in, and fraying means pulling the loose threads out of the hems and holes.

2. Know the fabric content

Your jeans may not be made with 100% denim. Read the care label stitched inside your jean shorts to see what combination of fabrics makes up your shorts. Polyester and nylon won’t fray, while soft linen cotton and denim are good to go!

3. Tools needed to fray

  • Razor: scrapes and frays.
  • Sandpaper: an overall distressed look.
  • Tweezers: removing the thread from a raw hem.
  • Seam ripper: minor cuts and tears.

4. Where to fray on your shorts

You will not want to fray the entire surface area of your shorts. Instead, leave the majority of the denim to be distressed. Fray instead, your pockets and edges like the bottom hem.

5. Washing your jean shorts

You will want to wash your shorts twice when it comes to fraying, ripping or distressing. First, wash the shorts before you do anything to avoid shrinking after making your frays. 

And then, you need to rewash them after you fraying and picking at the denim to expose more loose threads. The second wash can also help soften the areas you took the razor or sandpaper.

Washing denim take a certain care that other fabrics don’t use. How to wash jeans & how to wash jeans without shrinking will make sure you do it properly.

To dry your shorts, do not throw them in the dryer, unless you want them to loss a size or two. Instead you should dry them without a dryer. A good place to start is line dry or dry flat.

Understand how to use a dryer properly if you decide to choose this option.


To make frayed edges on jean shorts, you will first need a razor or sandpaper. With one of those two tools, rub it back and forth on the edge you want to fray until the fabric strings start splitting.

To fray the bottom of jean shorts with a razor first make sure the razor is sharp. Next, lay the edge flat on a table and then pull the razor across the edge until the fabric strings start splitting.