Rue How-To: DIY American Flag Shorts

I’ve done a fair amount of looking around when it comes to ideas for July 4 shorts. You could deck out the front pockets, dip-dye them, or paint on simple stars and stripes. Ultimately, I decided to cut my own stencil (not necessarily the best decision), and spray-paint the back pockets. Here’s how.


What you’ll need:

  • Denim shorts. If you don’t have a distressed pair and you like that look, here’s a quick tutorial on adding wear to your own jeans.
  • Fabric paint. I went with fabric spray paint. It’s between $4 and $6 per bottle at the craft store. I also bought spray glitter paint. If you have a weakness for sparkle, you can spray this on lightly before you finish. You’ll want to pick up both red and white paint.
  • Stencils. If you’re not artfully inclined, I highly recommend buying these. Otherwise, if you have the time and patience, you can make them yourself with heavyweight paper and an X-ACTO knife.
  • Masking or electric tape
  • Pins (optional)
  • Foam brush

How to do it:

  1. Surround the pockets of your shorts with tape. Be sure to cover any areas you do not want to get paint on.
  2. Tape your vertical (or horizontal) stripes on the right pocket. Line up your star stencil on the left pocket, then tape it down or use pins to hold it in place.
  3. Shake the paint bottle and spray in a sweeping motion. I suggest doing a few test sprays on a rag or paper towel first.
  4. Let the paint dry for at least an hour before peeling off the tape. This is key. As you can see, I was a little anxious in removing the star stencil (and I didn’t do enough test sprays), causing the paint to bleed.
  5. Peel off the star stencil and tape on the left pocket, as well as the stripes. Leave the pocket-protecting tape around the right pocket.
  6. Spray the red paint on a paper towel and use a foam brush to dab the paint between the white stripes.
  7. Let the paint dry for 4 to 5 hours before wearing. Your shorts will still be washable, just remember to flip them inside out.

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

Questions? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala, then check out our Rue How-To column every Wednesday.

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