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DIY Paper Bag Shorts | Pants Transformation

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

In this episode of Thrifted Transformation I found a simple pair of trousers for $5 and turned them into some paper bag style shorts!

What kind of pants to look for:

-Elastic waistband

-Heavy weight (like denim or khakis)

-Pockets are a must

-Long length so you can create the matching belt


Sewing Machine

Matching Thread

Difficulty Level: Easy

Project Time: 2 hours

Let's get started!

First remove the elastic band from the waist and cut the pants into shorts.

Since the pant legs were a little too baggy on me, I took in an inch from the bottom of the shorts but kept the size of the waist because I wanted the "paper bag" look to be very scrunched. If your pants already fit the way you like, you can skip this step.

Before sewing the elastic back into the waist, go ahead and hem to top of the shorts with a narrow hem. Since I want the elastic to sit at my high waist, I resized it to fit me first. Place the elastic about 1 inch below the waist so it can create the ruffled look on top; you can lower it even more if you want your ruffle to be taller and stand out more. I left mine at the original spot the elastic was at, but also if I lowered it, the shorts would not be at my high waist anymore.

When sewing elastic on, you should mark four points on the elastic so you can match it to the seams of the shorts. This will help you evenly stretch and sew it together. On my machine I just stretched and sewed the elastic with a regular straight stitch. It's also a good idea to switch your needle to a ballpoint needle so you don't break the elasticity.

To create the 2 inch waist belt, use the pant legs and cut 3 inch wide strips on fold (the piece is 6 inches wide unfolded). Then piece them together to create a long enough belt to tie at your waist.

Once the you have a long pieced together belt, fold the strip in half and sew the open side closed. Make sure to leave an opening at one end or in the middle of the belt so you can turn it inside out after.

After turning the belt inside out, topstitch along all the sides for a nice crisp look.

The last step is to create belt loops to hold the belt in place. Cut a 2 inch wide strip out of the leftover fabric, fold the raw edges to the inside, and fold it in half one more time to enclose the raw edges. Then topstitch the open side closed.

Cut the strip into 3 inch pieces, fold the ends underneath and topstitch them onto the sides and center back of the shorts. I only did 3 belt loops.

And you're finished! Such a simple and fun way to upcycle a simple pair of pants! Here are some pictures of the finished shorts. I can't wait to wear these over summer!

Heres the full youtube tutorial for this transformation:


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