Slow Fashion DIY Tutorial: How to make denim cut-offs


Years ago I bought this denim skirt on sale. This was before I committed to my sustainable fashion lifestyle, and I bought the skirt because it was a good brand and was going cheap. But I hardly ever wear it. Why? Because it never quite felt like my style. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason it didn’t feel right. That was until recently when I was admiring someone’s casual denim skirt style on the street and I realised it was the finished hem on my skirt that I didn’t like.

Denim Cut-offs tutorial

Once I realised this, I knew it was a simple 5 minute job to fix. Something I could do even with a sleeping newborn in a carrier on my chest. (I even took the photos of this project with my little bub asleep on my chest! In fact, I am writing this post now with him in the exact same place)

I took the finished edge of my skirt and changed it to a frayed raw edge. So I am sharing with you how to do it yourself. Today’s tutorial is so simple that it hardly even warrants being called a tutorial. You probably even already know how to make denim cut-offs, so if you do, perhaps this post will simply inspire a new adjustment to one of your denim garments. But just in case you don’t know how to make denim cut-offs, here is how it is done…..


  • Denim skirt or jeans
  • Fabric scissors
  • A stitch unpicker
  • Tailors chalk (optional)
  • Ruler or tape measure (optional)


Depending upon how much you wish to shorten your skirt or jeans you may wish to measure where you wish to cut the garment and mark it with tailor’s chalk. Because I was simply cutting off the finished hem, I cut just above the line of the stitching:

Denim Skirt Cut-offs tutorial

You may like to try on the garment once you’ve cut it to ensure you are happy with where the new edge sits (you may need to trim it a little to get it straight)

Once you are happy with how you’ve cut the garment, use the stitch unpicker to pull threads from the raw edge to fray the edge. If you have never used a stitch unpicker, they are a simple sharp tool used for (surprise surprise) unpicking stitches. You can see the tool pictured below:

Denim Skirt Stitch Unpicker

Pull threads from the raw edge until you have an reasonably even frayed edge, as seen below:

Denim Skirt Frayed Edge

And viola! You have your new denim cut-offs. Don’t forget to save any left over denim for future repurposing projects. (I plan to share a project tutorial for repurposing the legs of denim jeans soon, so don’t let that denim go to waste!) If, as in my case, you only have small scraps left, you can compost denim, or you can cut it into fragments to use as an alternative to polyester stuffing in toys. As much as possible, try to avoid your scraps going to landfill.

So, how do I wear my new skirt? This is my favourite sustainable fashion outfit for running around with my little boys- comfortable yet still with a sense of style.

Denim Skirt Style

The Rain Drop Tee is Fairtrade organic cotton by People Tree (tortoise & lady grey readers receive a discount of 10% on full priced purchases from People Tree. Enter GREY10 at the checkout). The black leggings* are organic cotton and sweatshop free by PACT*. The sneakers are Etiko Olive Lowcuts*, made with organic cotton and Forest Stewardship Council Certified natural rubber. And the baby? Well he is just damn cute, and made by me (with a little help from my husband I suppose!).


If you would like to delve a bit further into slow fashion DIY and personalising, repurposing or upcycling your clothes, here are some resources that I find useful:

*denotes an affiliate link. If you click on the link and make a purchase I may recieve a small commission (the price is the same for you). This helps to support my blogging activities. I only ever links to products that I value and which strongly meet the ethics and ethos of tortoise & lady grey. Thanks for your support.


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