American Flag Shorts DIY

UPDATE: This post originally ran on June 13th 2012, but with the 4th of July just around the corner we wanted to bring it back!American flag shorts are always a big fashion trend this time of year, as the 4th of July approaches – but it seems the Americana trend is even bigger than ever right now with the stars and stripes making their way into shirts, shoes, bags and more. I knew it was time for an American flag shorts DIY!

american flag cutoffs

For this project I used the Free People 5 pocket denim cutoffs.

american flag shorts

american flag shorts

What you need: painters tape, fabric stencil spray paint, some foam brushes, star stencil and a piece of scrap cardboard. I got all of the above supplies at AC Moore, or you could find them at your local craft store.

american flag shorts

I recommend testing out the paint on some scrap fabric to be sure you’re happy with the colors you selected – luckily I was. I liked how the white paint had a faded look to it and the red was nice and vibrant.

american flag shorts

american flag shorts

This DIY project really isn’t very difficult, but the trickiest part was the star stencil. You want to make sure the stencil is as flat on the denim as possible – to do this I put some double sided tape on the back to help adhere it to the shorts before I sprayed. The foam brushes also came in really handy to help spread the paint evenly.

The first star!:

american flag shorts

american flag shorts

Another tip – use a tiny paintbrush to help touch up the stars.  I pretty much just eyeballed the placement of the stars, I wasn’t too concerned about them being perfectly aligned. I like slight imperfections.

american flag shorts

For the stripes, I went back and forth a little bit on whether I wanted them to be vertical or horizontal. I chose vertical, and I like how they turned out :)

Using the painters tape, simply make thick stripes from top to bottom, leaving open the areas that will be painted red. Spray away!

american flag shorts

When you’re finished, remove the tape and let the shorts dry – I left mine in the sun for a couple of hours and they were dry.

american flag shorts

Your American flag shorts are now ready to wear!

american flag shorts

Photos by Julia.

Pair them with some converse, a striped turban, simple tee and moon necklace for the 4th of July!

If you love this DIY check out our Olympic Denim Vest DIY too!

Check out more of our DIY projects.

Other related posts: DIY: Update Your CutoffsDIY Studded Shorts


Trending at Free People: summer dresses, high waisted shortsmaxi dresses, boyfriend jeans, rompers, high-waisted bikinis, dresses, lace dresses, sundresses, off the shoulder tops.

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LOVE THESE! Such a simple great design

Please note that you can use eco-safe WATERBASED textile paint as well. Might take two coats, but our planet is worth it!!

These are SO cool! I’m really not good with DIY stuff, but this seems easy to do~

Very, very, cool! I’m going to try these!
Savannah Marie

ah! i love these! i have had a pair of thrifted and chopped off shorts that are really boring and this was perfect and super easy! it only took about an hour, too! i can’t wait to wear them on the beach on the fourth of july!

here’s a blog post about mine! :


LOVE these! can”t wait to make them!


OMG! What a great tutorial! Love these! I am going to do them right away. (:


Just made these today! Turned out greaf and only took me 20 minutes! Fourth of July, here I come. I used sparkley red paint for the strips for a fun touch.


These shorts are amazing!


Thank you so much for posting this version of the American flag short. I’ve been looking to repurpose a pair of distressed shorts from two summers ago. Being as the 4th if my favorite holiday (I <3 fireworks) I thought the flag short would be perfect. Your method is so much simpler and easier to wear than all the others I've seen. Made them today and they look fabulous. Thanks again!


Where do you buy the sprays?? This are beautiful!


I’ve looked at Michaels and Joanns craftstores for the spray paint, and they have the brand but not the colors! I was bummed out. But really cute idea


Did you wash them before wearing? How long do they need to dry before washing?

Super cute!

I made some for tomorrow! Used washable paint so I could wear these shorts again. Love them.

That looks so awesome! I also made one for myself. I’d be happy if you check it out :)


I was waiting for the Train to get to Adison, in Chicago and I saw a girl wearing short that she made to look like that, it was so cute that I had to go home and do it too. I only just realized that she got the idea form here.


These are pretty neat! recently I’ve made a few stenciled pieces check this one out!


Ahh those are so cute! Literally everything Free People does it cute..even if it’s’s cute ugly..which is almost better than being just cute! On my to-do list…just like 100 other FP DIY’s!!!!


we love it!!

DIY and more:


Cute and simple! I just finished mine and cant wait to wear them this Memorial Day weekend. Thank you Free People!

Very cute shorts, nice tip. I cant wait to make a pair

These are so so cute! Perfect for the 4th!

Juliette Laura

It is so cool and I love flag style. The shorts become special by this way1. Hahaha

I made these, they are AMAZEBALLS!!!! thanks for the great idea!!