I’m not a fancy dresser. My job and my life are supremely casual and in the summertime I basically live in jean shorts, cutoffs, jorts, whatever you wanna call them. Of course, I’m pregnant now so none of my usual shorts fit, and if you read my huge post about maternity fashion and body shaming you’ll know that I’ve been having real trouble finding any that will fit me that I like. And what do I like? NOT BERMUDA-LENGTH JORTS THAT MAKE MY THIGHS LOOK LIKE TREE TRUNKS. Don’t get me wrong; I know some people like this length in a jean short but I do not, and the thing is, THIS IS THE ONLY LENGTH MATERNITY JORTS COME IN AROUND HERE. Literally. This is the only option, and they are disgusting. Don’t believe me?
WOW I’M SO GLAD THESE GO ALL THE WAY TO MY KNEES. Seriously even the little illustration on the label looks depressed to be wearing these sad disasters.
And ughughugh the panel. I’m not necessarily totally adverse to the maternity panel, but on these particular shorts from H&M the panel is made of a double layer of thick navy blue jersey. You know, so you’ll spend the summer of your pregnancy hotter and sweatier than ever. PERFECT. So. The obvious solution is to remake these in my own image. With a few simple supplies you can remake along (even if you aren’t knocked up):
• dye in a colour of your choice (I wanted lavender shorts so I got pink & purple dye)
… and of course a pair of shorts or jeans you are ready to thrash on in three simple steps: cut, bleach, dye.
First things first, I cut off that panel! (Skip this part if you like the panel on your shorts or your shorts don’t have a panel or you aren’t pregnant.)
Next, I cut them to a length I don’t find morally reprehensible.
If you are new to making your own cutoffs I would suggest using a pre-existing pair of shorts as a rough guide. I used another pair of gross Bermuda-length H&M maternity jorts which I had already cut off.
If your goal is to simply make a regular pair of true-blue cutoffs, then congratulations! You’re done. Just wash & dry them to get that nice fraying on the bottom and you are ready for summer. However, since I already have that, I decided to go deeper with this pair, or rather, more pastel. The other weekend I was in Urban Outfitters and saw some shorts in pale pink and turquoise and lavender and even a “tie-dyed” pair that just seemed to be blotches of colour but were still beautiful, and these became my inspiration.
To make these shorts a pastel, I’d need a lighter canvas to work my magic on. So I threw them in a tub of bleach.
Not straight bleach; that’s a recipe for disintegrating fabric. I used about a 3:1 water to bleach mix and let them soak in it. You want to stir them around occasionally to make sure they get reasonably evenly bleached, and when they look light enough, rinse them in cold water and wash them with a load of old towels. You might have to do this a couple times to get them light enough. Here are mine after two bleaches, with one of the cut off scraps for comparison.
What a difference! As you can obviously see they were still a light blue. Depending on what kind of pastel colour you want you might need to bleach more (if you were going for a pale yellow or orange), but for a lavender this was light enough.
To make sure they didn’t come out too blue, I dyed them in stages. Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of this because a pot of simmering shorts in a dye bath doesn’t look like anything, and I couldn’t really lay them out between dyes to photograph because I was trying to not stain my entire kitchen. BUT! I can tell you how I did it!
In a large pot I mixed a bath of about 1/2 a box of Petal Pink RIT dye, with 3 1/2 liters of water (just under a gallon). I stirred it thoroughly to melt any of the dye powder and then added the shorts and left them on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally, while Taylor and I marathoned New Girl. They actually came out a pretty sweet pinky-purple but weren’t quite right, so after rinsing them out I made a new bath with 1/3 of a box of Purple RIT dye and let them cook a while more. The results (after rinsing, washing with old towels again and drying)?
AMAZING. In theory I wouldn’t mind them being a little lighter but these home fabric dye jobs always fade like crazy anyway. If you like, you can add some fun details like I did with these studs which I had lying around the house. I just shoved them right through the useless change pocket, effectively sealing it shut but OH WELL, it’s useless anyway, right?
A couple tips:
-wet the shorts before putting them into your bleach or dye baths, it helps them to process more evenly.
-if you’ve never dyed clothes before, follow the instructions on the dye you chose!
-don’t wear something super nice or expensive while doing this project.
-embrace imperfection; you can see the colour on my shorts isn’t totally even, but that’s okay and possibly even makes them look cooler.