Growing in sewing

Jeans to Shortalls Tutorial


Jeans – preferably loose fitting and long

My pattern pieces for the back diamond and front pocket, download here: Shortalls patterns

Sewing machine

Topstitching thread – In preferred color

4 or 6 Jeans buttons

Overall closures/buckles

Rotary cutter + mat or a good pair of scissors


Marking Pen


Optional: bias binding

You might also need some extra denim fabric

1. Start out by choosing a pair of jeans that are a bit loose in the waist for comfy shortalls, you can also try to make a tight pair of shortalls from stretch jeans. I have only tried this with two pairs of regular jeans so experiment as you wish. The longer the jeans the better so you can squeeze out all the parts needed without extra fabric.IMG_00502. Try on your jeans and pull them up so the waistband hits around your bellybutton. (If you can’t do this comfortably then you might want to try another pair). Mark on one leg how short you want your shorts to be. Take into account if you want them folded up or not.

3. Remove the back tag if it will be in the way of sewing later.

4. Put your jeans on the ground or on a cutting table and match up the legs making sure they are even. Find the cutting mark you made in step #2. With a ruler and rotary cutter/scissors cut off the legs with a slight angle so they are longer in the back then the front (to avoid showing too much bum, but do as you wish). IMG_00495. Now for the boring part, although it can be kind of fun if you do it correctly. “Rip” the waistband from the top of the shorts. Start with the top parts of the belt loops (leave the bottoms intact for reattachment later). Note that you can skip this part completely (I think) but then you will have a button in the front and it will be harder to sew. 6. Cut out the zipper… we won’t be needing it where we are going. Don’t cut into the fly though!IMG_00467. Topstitch the fly down, matching the old topstitching. 8. Seam rip the side seams to about the start of the pockets.IMG_00439. Cut out 4 squares out the remaining legs that measure about 10cm/4inch x 10cm/4inch (measure the opening in the side seams you just did to make sure this will be enough). Add interfacing to the squares. Fold and iron the seam allowance in and then fold the square in half. Overlock or zig-zag one of the short sides. This is similar to how you make a fly shield.IMG_0040 10. Pin the pieces to the raw edges of the side openings and sew one piece onto each side.IMG_003811. Match up the bottom edge of the two folded squares on each side and sew them together at the bottom edge. 
  12. Pin the waistband to the top of the shorts with the buttonhole to the left side, making sure you fold under the square and sandwich it between the waistband. (I realised after taking this picture that you should only pin the front of the pants, so ignore the back)IMG_003413. Pin all the way along the front, cut off the remaining waistband leaving the seam allowance. Turn the waistband inside out so the right sides are meeting. Sew together and trim the edge and cut of the top corner. I also added a buttonhole here but you can wait to do this until the end.
Turn right sides out and topstitch around your new waistband.
 14. Zig-zag or serge the top of the back shorts.

 15. Seam rip one of the legs open along the seam that does not have topstitching. Straighten out the largest part of the pants. Iron. Note that on some jeans this seam won’t want to lay flat due to the fit/design. I had this problem with the first jeans I tried this with. If this applies to your jeans you can seam rip the seam, rearrange the pieces and copy the topstitching.

Cut the largest part so it it straight and at a 90 degree angle from the center seam.IMG_002716. Match up the center seam of the top of the back pants with the center seam of the biggest part of the leg. Make sure it is big enough from side to side.IMG_002617. Measure your back from the middle of the shoulder blades to where the top of your shorts will hit. Add seam allowances to this measurement and cut this height of the back piece.

Pin the back piece to the back of the shorts and mark how wide you want your back piece to be. This depends on how you want it to look and how much fabric you have from the leg to work with.
IMG_002518. Print out my pattern pieces and cut out the one for the back diamond. Mark the sides of the diamonds on the back pieces and add seam allowances to both sides. Using a ruler, mark or cut on the diagonal so you connect your marking by the diamond and by the bottom edges.IMG_002319. Sew bias tape or ribbon to the sides of back piece (I will refer to this as a bib from here on). You could also zig-zag/serge the edges and topstitch them down.

Topstitch the sides to match the rest of the shorts.IMG_002120. Sew back bib to back of shorts, again matching the center seams, zig-zag or serge the seam allowance, topstitch the seam down with denim thread.

21. Try on your shorts and see if the rest of the pant is enough for the front bib. If not you can use the other leg (there might be less fabric for the bands though).

22. Mark on front bib how wide you want it on top. The bottom of the legs will be the top of the bib. Do the same to the sides as the back bib.IMG_001823. Find the center front of the shorts by folding them in half. Mark with a pin. Do the same for the bottom of the front bib.

 24. Match up the front bib to the front of the shorts. Baste in place. Try on and topstitch into place if it fits like you want otherwise unpick and baste in place again.IMG_001625. Cut out four pieces of fabric from the remaining leg to make the straps. If you do not have enough fabric you can use another fabric for the inside of the straps. The length of the straps should be a few inches longer than the length from the back bib to the front bib. Decide the width of the straps according to the size of your buckles. Mine were 1.5 inches plus seam allowance, so I cut them 2.5 inches wide.
IMG_001526. Put two strap pieces right sides together and sew them together around three sides, sewing as straight as you can.

IMG_001427. Turn the strap insides out using your preferred method. I used a turning tool (a tube and a long needle-like thing).IMG_0013 IMG_001228. Iron the strap and topstitch around both sides. Repeat for the other strap. Add your buckles. IMG_001129. Take your diamond pattern. (Note that you might need to adjust this to your own measurements, mine is from my own measurements and might not fit all). Cut out two pieces of diamonds from remaining fabric if you have enough (I didn’t so I used another denim fabric). Iron down the seam allowances of both pieces rotating it around in a circle as you go. Trim of any corners that stick out.IMG_001030. Sew one of the diamonds onto the back bib like the picture below. IMG_000931. Now add the other diamond wrong side together and topstitch around four out of six edges, leaving the top two open.

32. Sandwich your straps between the diamonds and pin in place. You want the straps to be at a slight angle as shown. It’s a good idea to try them on at this point before sewing them in place.IMG_0007 33. Continuing the seams you have already sewn on the diamond, sew the straps in place. Add another row of topstitching if you like.

34. Add buttons to the front bib and the side seams. Add buttonholes if you haven’t already. Give your shortalls a good press.IMG_000535. Using my pattern piece for the front pocket or drafting your own, cut out the pocket out of remaining leg fabric or another denim. Iron down the seam allowances and topstitch in place. Sew a line to one side to add an extra pocket if you want.IMG_0003 Enjoy your new shortalls!IMG_0001

3 thoughts on “Jeans to Shortalls Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Jeans to Shortalls Tutorial | LyllosMig

  2. Wow, I’m just saying, WOW

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