Today, I’m going to show you how to make patriotic denim shorts just in time for the 4th of July holiday! This is a great little DIY project that comes together quickly. It combines my love of repurposing with my love of using my Silhouette Cameo for crafting projects.
It’s hard to believe, but the 4th of the July holiday is almost upon us! Summer goes by way too quickly for my taste. Before we know it, it’ll be winter! And if you’ve been around here awhile, you know how I feel about winter! But for now, we are going to bask in the warmth of summer and get ready to celebrate our nation’s independence!
These flag-inspired shorts are nothing new. They’ve been around awhile, but patriotic wear never seems to go out of style! In fact, my daughter first made a pair when she was 11 years old–seven years ago. She made them for a 4-H project for our county fair and they were chosen to go to the Iowa State Fair. That was a proud mama moment!
Back then, we made our patriotic denim shorts with Tulip fabric paint. This time around we decided to ditch the fabric paint and try plain old acrylic paint just to see what would happen.
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Supplies needed to make patriotic denim shorts
- Denim shorts — we made a pair out of some jeans we found at Goodwill
- Acrylic Paint – crimson and white
- Star Stencils – cut out of vinyl with my Cameo Silhouette **found in my Free Resource Library
- Painter’s tape
- Make-up sponges
- Paintbrush for touch-ups
- Poster board or some other thin cardboard
How To make patriotic denim shorts
Gather Your Materials
Thrift and resale shops are my go-to place whenever I’m in need of some materials for repurposing. I do love to repurpose and I’m always on the lookout for a good repurposing project. It’s kind of our “thing” around here. Even in remodeling our house, my husband always used “found” materials in the project. For example, our “new” walls were built with barn beams and lumber salvaged from a barn that was about to be torn down. There are so many things that are perfectly good to use that are thrown away. I’m definitely not a tree hugger, but I don’t like to let anything go to waste. I always look to Goodwill when I’m repurposing jeans because they always have the best selection. We were able to pick up these American Eagle jeans for less than $5.00.
Place Something In The Leg To Prevent Bleeding
Before you begin painting, put something in the leg of the shorts to prevent the paint from bleeding through. I used a board, but a piece of posterboard or even a newspaper will work. I used the board so I had a firm surface on which to paint. And in one of those serendipitous craft moments, the board I had laying around here fit in the leg perfectly!
In all honesty, the denim fabric is probably thick enough that you don’t need to really worry too much about the paint soaking through. I like to put something with some shape in there so it pulls the leg taut, which makes it easier for painting.
Tape off The edges
You will also want to tape off the edges near where you’re going to be painting. You’ll notice I used some tape on the pocket area and on the back side of the leg seam. I’m not always careful when I paint, so it’s important to tape off the area just as you would if you were painting on wood or even a wall. Maybe you’re neater than I am when painting, but I can be kind of a mess at times.
We have used painter’s tape for this step, but it was softball season when we made these. Since my daughter is a little injury prone, we always have athletic tape laying around. It was close by and it sticks really well to fabric, so I decided to use the athletic tape instead of painter’s tape. It worked very well!
Cut the Stars Out On Vinyl
I used my Cameo to cut a full sheet of stars on some old green vinyl that I had here from another project. For this project, I don’t think the type of vinyl matters. You could probably use just about anything– Oramask 813, freezer paper, shelf liner, etc.
You can see I placed it on the leg so it would look like the pattern continues all the way to the seams. You can get the full sheet of stars in my Free Resource Library just by signing up on the form at the bottom of this post.
Start Painting Your Patriotic Denim Shorts
With your makeup sponge in hand, start painting light layers on the fabric. Just as we do with making signs, offload a little bit of paint onto a paper plate or piece of paper. Also, it’s better to do several light coats than one heavy one to prevent bleeding.
Tape Off The Stripes
Sometimes you win some and sometimes you lose. I forgot to take a picture of how we taped off the other side of the leg to make the stripes. Again, we used the athletic tape to tape off the stripes. I actually taped it off twice. We taped off once to do the red stripes and again to the white stripes making sure the paint was dry on each layer before beginning the next. If you have a steady hand, you can freehand them. I don’t have a steady hand so I need to take the extra time to tape off my stripes. You may find after the paint soaks in that you’ll need to touch up any areas that didn’t take the paint.
You can see that even though we were careful with the makeup sponge, we still had some bleeds around our stars on our denim shorts. We decided that it kind of adds to the vintage appeal of the shorts. If I were to make another pair, I might try cutting the stars out of freezer paper. Freezer paper has that plastic backing so you could take an iron and run it over the stars to create a seal between the paper and the fabric.
Didn’t our patriotic denim shorts turn out great?
Acrylic Craft Paint vs Fabric Paint
So what did we learn from using acrylic craft paint instead of fabric paint?
Fabric paint definitely makes the textile “softer” and less stiff. We could have mixed in some textile fabric medium with the acrylic paint to get that softer feeling and allow the acrylic craft to function as a fabric paint. Since the denim jeans had some lycra in them, they weren’t terribly stiff and the denim has some “give” thanks to the lycra. It didn’t bother my daughter to wear them like that.
You might be wondering what the patriotic denim shorts looked like after they went through the washing machine? It turned out that we liked them even BETTER after they went through the wash. The washing machine softened the paint and while some of it did come off in the wash, it gave them this beautiful vintage look! I think they look even more fabulous!
Get The Stars SVG Cut file In The Free Resource Library
If you don’t have a Cricut or a Cameo at home, you could buy a sheet of reusable stencils at a craft store like Hobby Lobby. If you don’t have a Cricut or a Cameo, you need one! I have used both a Cricut and a Cameo and I prefer the Cameo.
If you do have your own Cricut or Cameo at home you can cut your own. You’re going to want the stars SVG cut file that I used for this project. This cut file, along with all of my other cut files, can be found in my Free Resource Library. You’ll just need a password to get in. The password will be sent to you when you sign up using the form below:
You could easily whip these up before that 4th of July picnic coming up this week!
What will you do to Craft Your Happy today?
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