I Chronicles 29:11 "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pajama Pants Tutorial

**Edited to Add** I revised the 'leg inside the leg' part, so hopefully it makes more sense. Let me know if this revision was worth the extra explaining! ;0P

So, this is my first sewing tutorial- ever. The idea was born because of all the tutorials out there, I couldn't find one that gave me clear, concise directions before I sewed one stitch. I am the kind of person who wants to see every step, and needs to have everything explained in detail before I attempt it on my own. I recommend reading through this a couple times before getting started, to make sure you understand what you're supposed to do.

So brace yourselves for LOTS of photos, and LOTS of commentary. I may eventually make this a .pdf if the need presents itself (and if I ever figure out where to upload something like that) but for now you can just copy and paste it into the word processing program of your choice.

Ready? Here we go...and let me just say that we need to get over the use of the word 'crotch' right now, because we will use it a lot. Ok? Thank you for being mature. :0)

First things first, let's round up our materials. You will need:

The fabric you will be using to make your new pants
An existing pair of pants/shorts/capris that you love
Thread to match your material
A sewing machine
Measuring Tape (not from the garage)
Half-inch elastic
A safety pin
An iron and pins (if you're not lazy like me)

**Start with pre-washed and dried fabric that has been ironed**

Lay your fabric right-side down on a flat, rather large surface. Make sure it is smoothed out, and that no parts are folded over one another or wrinkled. Fold your existing favorite pants in half (making sure to fully pull the crotch area out) and lay them on your fabric.

STEP TWO (If your existing pants have an elastic waist, skip to the ** below.)

Cut around your existing pants, leaving room for seam allowances. This means, if you want sew with a half inch seam, then you need to cut around your pants with an extra half inch on all sides, except above the waist. There you need to cut one and a half inches above the existing pants. (We will use that space to make a casing for the elastic.) Skip down to ****I cut a little too generously in the crotch area, and they are a bit baggy there. FYI

**Since your existing pants have elastic in the waist, DO NOT cut with only a seam allowance around the top. If you do, you will have a VERY SMALL waist in your new pants that WILL NOT fit any human being, and will make you scream and possibly hurt someone.
You want to cut with regular seam allowances around all parts of the existing pants, until you come to the curve in the crotch. After the curve, go straight up instead of following the line of the existing pants. This will leave enough fabric so the pants will be the right size to fit you once they have elastic in the waistband. Continue below.

****Use your 'just cut' material as a pattern to make another exactly like it. Then take one of those pieces, flip it over so the right-side is up, and cut two pieces like that.
You will have four pieces total. And your material is ironed, remember?

Move all the extra material out of your way. Take one piece from the first set of legs you cut, and one piece from the second set you cut, and place them right-sides (pattern sides) together. Do the same for the remaining two pieces.
Yours will both be the same length. Ahem.


Pin one set of pieces on the long, straight side of the leg.

Sew with a half inch seam all the way up, remembering to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitch. Do this for the other leg as well.
Then iron the seams open. (Um, there isn't a picture of this because I didn't do it. But when it came to shoving the elastic through, I wished I had!!)

Now (with right-sides together) pin from the ankle to the point of the crotch. Sew with a half inch seam, stopping at the point of the crotch.
Do this for the other leg, then press the seams open.

This is what it will look like: the top half of the crotch should flop open since we haven't sewn it yet.

I hope this next step isn't too confusing. Take one of the legs you've just sewn and turn it right-side (pattern side) out.
Slip it into the other leg (which is still inside-out), matching up the seams on either side. Putting two legs right-sides together is basically what we're doing here. You'll need to separate the four layers so you don't end up sewing them all together. (Um, I did that the first time. Duh!) Separate them with one outside layer paired with one inside layer, like in the pic below.
Pin the layers together if you need to, or just hold them securely while stitching. Maybe the pic below will help explain better what's what. The top of the legs (the blue line) will be our waistband. The black arrow shows the long seam that will be the outside of our pant leg. The red line shows the seam we sewed in the previous step. And the yellow arrows show how we'll sew this seam.
Start at one corner (where the yellow arrows begin) and sew all the way around to the other corner. Backstitch at the beginning and end of this seam. (What we're doing is making a seam that runs from the center of the front panel to the center of the back panel.)

Now take the leg you stuffed in the other one out, and your pants should look like this:
That seam in the front (and a matching one in the back) is the seam you just sewed in the previous step when one leg was inside the other. Make sense?

Groovy, huh? If yours don't look like this, then you did something wrong. But don't worry! The first time I tried the 'leg inside the other leg' step, I had a BIG, frustrating mess. Two tubes stuck together, to be exact. Totally not comfortable to sleep in. Totally.

Time to make the casing for the elastic. Take the waist of your pants and iron down a half inch all the way around. (I did 1/4 inch, just so you know why it looks small in the picture. I also didn't iron it. Sue me.) Now fold it over another inch and iron it down all the way around.

You're going to want to remove the 'arm' on your sewing machine for these next few steps, so pull it off and set it somewhere out of the way where it won't fall down. This way you can slip the area under the foot right into the waistband and sew in a circle. Super groovy!
Sew as around the waist casing, making sure you leave room for your elastic to fit inside. Stop about an inch away from where you started sewing, so you can thread the elastic through this gap. Do NOT forget to backstitch here.
(I hold the elastic attractively in my mouth [since I don't iron] and as I am sewing, just hold it up to the material every so often to make sure it will fit in the casing. I'm lazy.)

Measure the waist of the intended wearer, and subtract one inch. This is how long you need to cut your elastic. Put the safety pin through one end of the elastic, and start threading it through the opening you left in your waistband. You will need to move the fabric along as you go, otherwise it will get too bunched up. Just don't let the tail end of your elastic slip through, or you'll have to start over again.

Remove the safety pin from the end of your elastic, making sure enough is sticking out for you to hold, and it won't go snaking back inside. Set your machine on the zig-zag stitch, at a pretty long setting. I set my width at '7'. I hand-wind a few stitches to make sure it won't get all bunched up, then slowly stitch back and forth, securing the ends together.
Let them slide up into the casing, then sew your opening closed. Waistband done!! BrAvO!!

Now for the hemming of the legs. You can either have the intended wearer try the pants on at this point, or you can just hem them up a half inch or so. I winged it, and mine turned out fine.

Present them to the intended wearer with a proud and ecstatic look on your face.
Well done, for sticking to the end of this ridiculously long post. Please tell me you're going to try it. Soon!


  • Giovanna

    Well done Julie : )
    It looks very nice and I'm sure your daughter was thrilled!
    Very nice for your first tutorial, you seem like your a pro at this. Looking forward to more : )

  • Brenda

    G---what in the world were you doing up at 1:06 AM?

    Ok this tutorial is really good. I must admit I'm confused about the leg in the leg part, but your pictures are really helpful and I'm sure when I GET to that part, it will make more sense. I kind of have to be holding the fabric in my hand while reading the tutorial to understand. I can't wait to try it!

  • impromptu-mom

    Very Nice!

    But I can definitely see where the "leg in the leg" would throw you. I've never seen pants sewn that way! It seems more difficult than need be. But your tutorial made it a workable way of doing things, lol.

    When I make pants like this, I only cut two pieces (each on a fold, so it is a complete "leg") and sew the front and back together first. Then the inseam is just one big seam from ankle to ankle. But I have to admit that yours are much more pretty and shapely than mine!

  • Brenda

    Totally worth it! The illustration with the arrows did it for me. NOW I understand. And that's really saying something for me since I don't actually have the pants in my hand which is usually what it takes for me to understand! Great job! I cannot wait to get my sewing machine fixed so I can do this!

  • b davis

    Thank you so much! Just finished my first pj bottoms for my son. A lot easier than I thought it would be. Your tutorial was easy to follow & the pictures were very helpful. Thank you again!

  • Jen B

    Thank you!! After searching around online for a tutorial (too cheap to buy a pattern...), I finally found yours. Great, clear instructions and helpful photos. I just finished my first ever pair of lounge pants using fleece and your tutorial. I think they look great :-). We'll find out tomorrow when I give them to my daughter's friend, aka the intended recipient. Thanks again!

  • Angie

    Thank you for this awesome tutorial. I used it tonight to make PJ pants for my entire family. All four in one evening...and I've never sewn clothes before! The leg-in-leg made perfect sense and was a snap to sew. I see a lot of these in my future!!

  • Danielle

    Great tutorial! I used it to make pj pants for 6 people in my family as Christmas gifts. Thanks for sharing!

  • Brenda

    Hey just wanted to let you know I pulled out little bits pajama pants from last year and they still fit! Now I'm going to make sweethearts like I should have done last year!

  • Stef

    This was pretty easy to follow. My pants turned out pretty baggy around the top but they're pants so I really can't complain. And they survived the washing machine so I'm thrilled. Thanks! Also - 'the leg inside the leg' was pretty easy to understand once I got to it.

  • JulieMom

    SO GLAD you're all finding it so helpful!! :0) Keep sewing!

  • Sara

    Finally an understandable pajama pants tutorial! I think I even understand the leg in the leg part =) (which doesn't mean that I won't mess it up when I actually sew it).
    I think I'll make a pair for my bf's birthday, they're bound to be cuter and cheaper than store-bought and have a bonus "made with love" factor =)

  • lowther

    Thanks for this tutorial. The leg in the leg, once I understood it, made it so easy to sew. I have just finished my pajamas and they came out great. Easier than i thought.Will definitely be making some more.

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