Create / Fashion

DIY American Flag Jean Shorts

This is incredibly simple, cheap, AND awesomely patriotic. So here we go!

What you’ll need:

  1.  Jean shorts you wish you wore more often (or you can buy some jeans from Goodwill for $4 and cut them!)
  2. Three bottles of acrylic craft paint (I used Americana from Hobby Lobby, $.99 each. I went with more of a dark red and navy instead of primaries but that’s up to you!)
  3. Paintbrush (I used an inch wide regular art paintbrush I had lying around)
  4. Star stencil (I used a piece of cardstock, drew a star (chinese star will work!), and then cut it out with an exacto knife on a wooden cutting board, or you can just buy one from hobby lobby)
  5. (Optional) Foam letter stamps from hobby lobby ($2.99). Any stamp or stencil will work!


  1. I started with the stripes on the right side. I chose not to use tape because I was aiming for a semi messy look. So paint vertical lines of red, avoiding the pockets. Then paint the white stripes in between. While messy is cute, you still want to keep the width of the stripes pretty consistent.
  2. Next, I took the star stencil & placed it close to the bottom of the shorts. I then painted white inside the star starting at the center and working into the points and quickly found out this didn’t work. The paint leaked under the stencil a little bit and I had to end up going back and reshaping the blob into a star. I suggest starting at the points of the star painting inward to the center to avoid the paint getting trapped under the stencil. A light layer is best. You can always go back and add more white. I actually ended up liking the stars with less paint best.
  3. Continue painting the stars, moving the stencil along to the right. It’s ok if your stencil is on top of the previous star. It’s ok if the stars aren’t exactly lined up. Once you have a row, start working your way up the shorts placing the stencil directly between the tops of two stars of the previous row.
  4. Once you are out of room to put stars, go back and add just tips of the stars to the edges. This really makes a huge difference! Imagine the stars continuing in line and place the stencil accordingly.
  5. Now carefully paint the blue around the stars.
  6. If you have a tiny pocket, go ahead and paint that opposite of the design on the current side.
  7. Let the front dry. I used a blow dryer to speed up the process.
  8. For the back, follow the same procedure. Blow dry. Then stamp “USA” on the striped side (Optional)



UPDATE: Here is the photo of the shorts after I ran them through the wash on Cold/Delicate and laid flat to dry




42 thoughts on “DIY American Flag Jean Shorts

  1. i think a better option is fabric paint. it’s like puffy paint that you use on tshirts when you’re a kid, but you heat-set it with an iron so that it doesn’t some off in the wash.

  2. But how does the acrylic hold up in the wash, that’s what I used and I’m afraid to put it through…also will it run and potentially ruin things it’s washed with?!?

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  4. Hey y’all! Happy to announce, they made it through the wash fabulously! I have the after picture to post and there is virtually no change. Thanks for all the comments and questions!

  5. After seeing this on pinterest I literally left my house to get all the supplies and made three pairs tonight! For my sisters and I :) I found it easiest to paint the blue on and let it dry, and then arrange the stencil and swipe a little white paint in from each of the star points (not too much white paint or it still goes under the stencil, very easy to clean up though!). The white won’t always fill in the middle but most of the star, most importantly the edges will be there and then it’s easy to fill in! I am BEYOND pleased/excited/thrilled with the results so THANK YOU for this post!!! Going to rock these on the 4th :)

  6. So I am in grad school and awesome for me, if I select delecate the washer automatically goes to “warm” cycles. If i select “colors” it automatically does a regular wash but with cold water. Help?! Should I just handwash them? That’s pretty much what I’m doing right now :-/

  7. I love this!
    Bought my pair of shorts at good will for $2 yesterday and I’m headed to hobby lobby as SOON as they open today to get the paints! I’ll let ya know how they turn out!

  8. I just made these, and I used a sponge brush instead of a traditional brush. It worked really well, and it mitigates the “bleeding” problem with the stencil because you can blot it instead of brushing it. I also added some glitter to the pain (red to red, blue to blue, and silver to white), and I really liked the way it turned out!

  9. I love these! I’m going to a country concert and can not wait to make these! Anyways, how did you cut the jeans in to shorts!? Every time I try the make jeans in to shorts I mess up horribly! Thanks

    • I originally made them because I was going to a country concert too! Haha there is something about country music events that scream ‘MERICA! I bought the jean shorts already cut off, I wish I could provide a good tutorial for making cute cut off shorts, but i’m still trying to figure it out myself. I always mess up too :( Enjoy!

  10. I hardly leave a response, but I read a few of the responses
    here DIY American Flag Jean Shorts | Tealou & Sweetpea.
    I do have a couple of questions for you if it’s okay. Is it just me or does it look like like some of these remarks appear like they are written by brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are writing at additional online social sites, I would like to follow everything fresh you have to post. Would you list of every one of your social networking pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

    • haha! I am a terrible “blogger” in the sense of keeping up with posts, so this is about as current as it gets. However, I do keep up with my photography facebook page and am slightly instagram obsessed! I would love to keep up with my blog one of these days, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day haha!

      facebook page: heather chauvin photography
      instagram : heatherc805

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  11. Does the acrylic craft paint make the shorts stiff? and if so, do they become less stiff after washing??

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  13. I just finished mine! Thank you for such easy steps. I skipped doing the design on the back and the blue behind the stars but they still turned out great! Thanks again

  14. I’m thinking of making these shorts, what paint would you recommend if I don’t want the paint to stay on permanently? As in, when I wash them, the paint will come off.

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