Introduction: How to Sew Your Own Pajama Pants
This instructable shows you how to sew easy-to-make pajama bottoms in any size. I don't know if you have shopped for any pajamas lately but they are crazy expensive. At Land's End, they want $24.50 plus shipping for toddler-sized flannel pajama bottoms. When you see how easy it is to make PJs, the man behind the curtain is revealed and you see what a racket that is. These pants are for my son's "Fall Festival" day at school which banned costumes in favor of a pajama day.
I also make matching pajama bottoms for the family every Christmas because I am crazy and I like everyone to match in the Christmas morning pictures. I don't care if my hair is sticking up or my husband needs a shave but we all must match in the pictures like the Brady Bunch on Tour every Christmas morning. It is not possible to find matching pajamas in the four sizes we need so I buy enough awesomely cheesy Christmas flannel to outfit the whole gang. Then we get plain t-shirts in a complementary color so we can keep on, keep on, keep on dancing through Christmas day.
One small disclaimer:
If you're making kids' pj pants, these are technically supposed to be called lounge pants because they are made from regular woven cotton or flannel and worn by children. There are all kinds of laws addressing the safety of children's sleepwear and anything worn to bed by children is supposed to be snug-fitting in case of fire. That's why all those stretchy cotton PJ sets for kids are tight as an old lady's compression hose. They don't want to get sued if your child gets burnt in a fire. The looser PJ pants are made from fire-retardant material which never feels nice like cotton. So send your children to bed in these pants at your own risk.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
To make sure you get the right size, just make sure you have a pair of pants that fit the intended pajama wearer. If your pajama wearer is far away, then find out the right size and borrow some pants from someone who is that size or carry yourself down to the Salvation Army and part with a couple of your increasingly precious dollars for a busted-up pair you can use as a pattern. This is a DIY tutorial and I figure anyone smart enough to sew up some pajama pants is also smart enough to find some in the right size but you never know.
Fabric - woven cotton or flannel or jersey or whatever floats your boat. The exact amount you need will depend on how big the pants are and whether the print is directional or not. If you are an experienced sewer, you know what that means and you can skip the next bit or you can read it and think, "Well, duh." A directional print is one that has a right-side up. Like words or Christmas ornaments or something else that is meant to hang only one way. If you're making adult pants and using a directional fabric that's a standard 44" wide, you will need almost twice as much fabric because you can't save fabric by flipping the pattern around and cutting one leg upside down. If you don't buy extra fabric and move the pattern down along the same fold to cut the second leg, your husband's cheesy Christmas pajamas will be even more cheesy because the aforementioned Christmas ornaments will be hanging down properly on one leg and, in total defiance of gravity and common sense, hanging UP on the other leg. (Sorry, dear.) To use the smallest amount of fabric possible on your "lounge" pants, buy a cute print that looks the same turned any direction.
You'll also need thread to match, pins, paper to make the pattern, a pencil or pen, scissors, a safety pin, and enough elastic to go around the waist of the wearer plus about five inches. What kind of elastic isn't all that important but it should be about 1 / 2 inch wide.
Step 2: Make Your Pattern
To make the pattern, fold your pants in half and pull the crotch all the way out. Flatten them as much as possible and lay them down on top of your paper. Parchment paper is inexpensive and wide enough for most childrens sizes. I like regular rolled wrapping paper for adult pants since it's wide enough and it's cheap. Trace around the pants. If your pants have a drawstring or elastic, make sure you trace them with the waist stretched completely out. Add a seam allowance by drawing an outline 1 / 2 inch outside the traced lines along the legs and crotch and 2 inches along the waist and hem of the pants. Put the pants aside and cut your pattern out.
Step 3: Cut Your Fabric
Fold your fabric just enough to accommodate your pattern. Pin with the longest part of the pattern right along the fold. Carefully cut around the pattern. Then do the same thing again so you have two pieces of cut fabric.
How you fold your fabric and where you cut will depend on the size pants you're making. With toddler sizes, you can use a mere 2 / 3 of a yard and fit both legs within a single width of fabric. With larger sizes, this isn't possible because the crotch makes the pattern too wide to fit twice. This is where a non-directional fabric saves you some money. You can flip your pattern and place it on the other side, sliding it down until the two crotches meet (boy, does that sound dirty) and waste less fabric.
Step 4: Sew the Outside of the Legs
Fold the leg pieces right sides together. Pin along the inside of the leg pieces from ankle to crotch and sew using a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Because I have boys who like to play in their lounge pants rather than lounge in them, I always reinforce the crotch seam by sewing a second seam just outside the first one. There are fancier ways to reinforce the seams but these are lounge pants, not tuxedo pants. I trim off any excess seam allowance and that seems to work just fine. I've made probably twenty pairs of these for my kids and they never complain about the seam allowance bugging them.
If your fabric is really prone to fraying, zigzag the raw edges of the legs from ankle to crotch before you pin them together. Then fold the leg piece right sides together and sew a seam up the side from ankle to crotch. Do the same for the other leg. Press the seams open.
Step 5: Sewing the Crotch
Turn one leg right side out and slip it inside the other leg. Match up the side seams that you just sewed and pin from there up both sides of the crotch to the waist. Sew along the crotch, pulling the pins as you sew. I reinforce this seam the same way I did the leg seams by sewing a second seam very close to the first one. Then I clip the curve to leave less fabric in the crotch area. Take the pant leg out of the other one but leave the PJ pants inside out.
Now they should look like inside-out pajama pants with raw edges at the waist and legs. If they don't, ur doing it wrong.
Step 6: Sew the Waistband
If your recipient is available, now is a good time to have a fitting. You want to make sure the rise of the pants will be comfortable. The rise is the distance from the crotch to the waist. Too short and the pants will ride too low. Nothing says comfy and relaxed less than worrying that your coin slot will show in the Christmas pictures. If the rise is too high, you'll have grandpa pants that hike up to your armpits and you'll end up outside shouting at kids to get off your lawn. Get the person inside the pants (if you can) so you have an idea of how much you'll need to fold down the waist to get a comfortable rise. If you don't have the actual person, use the pants you used to make the pattern as a guide. Mark the hems on the legs after you've marked the rise.
Fold down the top of the fabric about 1 / 2 inch and press. Then fold it down again about 1 inch and press. This will hide the raw edge of the fabric inside and form the tunnel for the elastic waist. Pin all the way around the waist but leave an opening about 3 long and mark it with pins so that we'll have a place to thread the elastic in.
Sew around the waist close to the fold of the fabric, stopping when you get to the place where you marked the opening.
Step 7: Thread the Elastic and Finish the Waist
Cut a piece of 1 / 2 inch elastic long enough to fit around the waist of the person plus another three or four inches. Mark the actual waist measurement on the elastic with a sharpie so you will know where to sew when you're ready. Hook one end of the elastic to a big safety pin and thread it through the waistband taking care not to twist it as you go around. Bunch the pants up once you get both ends out, overlap the elastic to the sharpie mark and sew the elastic together using a wide zig-zag stitch for security. Trim off the extra elastic and let the elastic go back up into the waistband. Then sew across the opening to secure it all inside.
Step 8: The Hemming
Finish up the pants by folding the legs up twice to the marks you made during your fitting. Press in the hem and pin. If you don't have access to the fittee, then get your original pants back out, match up the crotches, and use the leg on the old pants as a guide. Sew the hems close to the fold and press when you're done.
Step 9: Lounge!
That's it! You've made pajama pants. And you didn't spend a fortune on them. Now you're free to lounge about your house or slip on a t-shirt and flip-flops and head to the coffee shop for a latte where older women can tut-tut about how horrible it is to be seen in pajamas in public. But they live for that crap so going there in your snazzy new PJ pants is really a public service. You're so selfless. Happy Lounging!