Did-It-Myself American Flag Shorts

June 14, 2012

DIY American Flag Shorts by Hey It's SJ

Do a quick search on the web for "American flag shorts" and you will find several a) pictures of celebrities rocking these patriotic pantaloons, b) any number of retailers trying to sell you their (usually over-priced) version, and c) numerous DIY-ers showing you how they made some from an old pair of jeans/shorts and some paint/fabric. So even though I won't be winning any Nobel prizes for originality, I figured I would share with ya'll how I made mine!

I started with this pair of jeans that I got from Old Navy for $4 circa 2006:
Jeans before being made into DIY American Flag Shorts
Blah. I haven't worn them in years, but they still fit me well and were in good shape. So what do I do with this perfectly good pair of jeans? Cut them up of course!Here is a good tutorial on how to make a cuffed pair of shorts, similar to what I did with mine. I prefer the more finished look of cuffed shorts, but I have also seen some really cute versions of these American flag shorts as cut-offs.

After my jeans got upgraded to shorts, it was time for some painting. Following the instructions on the bottle, I mixed a textile medium with regular acrylic craft paint. I have used some "ready-to-use" fabric paints in the past, but they have a tendency to dry a little stiff. Since the entire front of the shorts are covered in paint, I opted to use the textile medium that is a bit more flexible when it dries.

To achieve the American flag pattern, first I applied my navy paint mixture to one side of the shorts with a cut-up kitchen sponge. After that dried, I stenciled on the stars with my white paint mixture. At first I used a sponge with the stencil, but when that didn't give me the coverage I was looking for, I went back in by hand with a brush. For the stripes, I used painters tape and sponged (is that a word?) on the red, removed the tape and painted on the white with a brush. I wasn't worried about getting perfectly even coverage or making sure all the lines were straight because I was going for more of a vintage, handmade look. After all the paint was dry, I followed the directions on the bottle of textile medium to heat-set the design. And just like that, I had a festive new pair of shorts.

I finished 'em just in time to wear on a Memorial Day trip to the river!
Finished DIY American Flag Shorts at the River
Before and After DIY American Flag Shorts