Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!

Picture of 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!
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The concept is good; however, for a proper fit over the bum you can't cut them with a side fold, with the same curve in the front and back. If you look at a pair of properly fitting pants(or a commercial pattern), the curve in the front is shallower than the one in back that has to curve around your behind, and meet in the middle. The back rise is also about an inch higher than the rise in the front, plus what you need to add for elastic casing. So, start with a double width of paper: trace the front curve, then carefully turn the pants over and re-adjust to pull out the back curve and trace that part. Measure your waist, and the waist of the pants, to make sure you've allowed enough for size - add a few inches for comfort, if you want. Use your pattern flat, not on a fold, and cut two pieces. Then proceed as above. I did this with another leader as a 4-H project at camp one year to make shorts (we called them "jams" back then) and made dozens of pairs. We had one basic pattern, and adjusted the width for the kids' sizes.

rsimcock4 months ago
I am a beginner with a machine but managed to make these cute pj bottoms for my son.
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nicolla.breen7 months ago

question about if your working with a plus size pattern is there any part that should be given a little more care? say if they have a Buddha belly or juicy thighs should you focus on those?

kathy.stenner7 months ago

You need a pattern that gives the higher rise in back and gives a more rounded bum. You would cut tou the waist on an angle.

Hi! I am currently making a pair of pajamas and I am at the "trying it on" step. The leg width is just fine but I have a problem with the rise : it is too low on the back (my panties show when I bend over) and too high on the front (higher than belly button). It is the exact same size for the front and the back but I have a bum to fit in...

I really like the fabric I have used and I would hate to have wasted my time (and fabric). I assume I could add a little fabric at the top as a belt, instead of just rolling the rise down to hide the elastic, but that's only a theory and I'm not quite sure how to do it... Any advise?

I am having this exact same issue. Did you ever find a solution?

Nope. Since the author didn't reply and I got frustrated at having sewn something I couldn't use, I un-sewed it all and used what I could of the fabric to make something else.

Bummer. Thanks for the quick reply! I think I am going to go forward, as I have promised 13 of my family members matching pjs for Christmas. I think I will add an inch at the top and then the wearer can fold down the elastic in the front. I have used the posted instructions for 10+ pairs already and they turned out great, but they have all been for kids. The first pair I made for my husband didn't go so well. Happy Holidays!

compwalla (author)  sugardreams8 months ago

If your rise is too short when you try them on, then you didn't add enough allowance at the top to fold over to make the casing for the elastic. You really need to be generous at the top allowance because it's much easier to trim extra than it is to try and add once you've already cut. The pants you pick as a pattern will also make a huge difference. If you pick a pair of jeans that have a lower rise, you're going to have trouble with the rise on your PJ pants. When you make the pattern from pants that already fit you, think about what kind of pants you're starting with and adjust the seam allowances accordingly. Starting with snug-fitting jeans that have a low to medium rise? You're going to want to be more generous with your allowances when you draw around them to make your paper pattern.

Thank you both! I used pajama pants to make my pattern, but the material was different than the flannel i am using. they were also all older jama bottoms that had been stretched out. For some of them my sister just mailed me their jama pants traced on paper and I had to make a lot of adjustments for them not being laid out very well. I am definitely nervous about this project! For anyone over 11 years old I added 3" to the top and bottom since the 2" i added when doing my husbands were both too short in the length and rise.

ValerieG8 months ago

Just went through this pattern to help a friend learn how to sew. Took about 4 hours from finding pants to "copy" to finished product, with many breaks to double/triple check. Great instructions!

The one confusing note was sewing the "outside of the legs" - I kept thinking we were doing something wrong, since this was actually the inside seam, but for the separate pant legs. Once we worked through that it was smooth sailing.

ChelseaCaz8 months ago
Awesome!! I'm making 5 pair for family for Christmas. Excited to try it out! Joanns has 50% off fleece right now!
HandiGirl9 months ago

Thankyou for your very inspiring instructable.......you remind me of my departed beloved mother ........she always made her own patterns out of unused brown meat wrapping paper ......she always added a little extra room for the bum to be more comfy. Keep up the great work......looking forward to your next sewing instructable...

BeaucoupBeck9 months ago

I made a pair following these instructions last year and it worked great! Joann Fabrics has flannel on sale right now so I'm going to make some more. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

AdrienneB19 months ago

OK! So I've decided my family is going to do some super awesome Christmas pictures this year instead of the same ol' boring traditional 'everyone dresses up and smiles pretty for the camera' Christmas cards. I have looked several places and read many tutorials of how to make jammie bottoms for my family and this seems to be the one I keep gravitating back towards, so starting tonight I'm going to try it out! But before I start cutting and sewing I was reading through many comments and many of my questions were answered, but I do have one more. So, we fold our fabric in half to cut the leg according to a pair of pants that we are using ... so when we are sewing there is only one seam, correct? Just on the inside? Maybe this is a no-brainer, but I just wanted to make sure before I start cutting and snipping away ;)

compwalla (author)  AdrienneB19 months ago

You are correct. Since the legs are cut on the fold, you will have only one seam per leg inside the leg, from the floor to the crotch. The outside part, the part from floor to hip and waist, will be on the fold and have no seam.

LauraG211 months ago

Thanks for this post, so helpful. Just made my first pair, I am a very beginner sewer, the pictures were extremely helpful.


cantonio31 year ago

Thanks!! Didn't just make pyjamas, but, made everyday pants, as well!!

Pattihabby1 year ago

What Great instructions and Thank You !!!

I make my pattern from the worn out ones. For children, this is fine but us adults with more "developed" back ends, well !!!!!

I sometimes, go to a goodwill type store and buy a cheap pair that fits me and deconstruct them. I do this for many sewing projects. I, also, buy things just to be able to use the fabric for my sewing projects.

cloner1 year ago
very good instructable! any tips on choosing the fabric? my sons' skin are a bit sensitive. thanks :)
compwalla (author)  cloner1 year ago

My younger one is sensitive as well. I've found it matters more what products I use in the wash rather than what the fabric is made from. Any nice 100% cotton print or 100% cotton flannel will feel nice. These don't have tags to irritate after all.

any tricks to pockets for these pants?. very new to the stay at home scene and well this can learn but let's just say me and jo ann fabrics don't see eye.
compwalla (author)  waemisegger1 year ago

I've never added pockets (what do you keep in your pockets when you sleep?) but if you wanted to you could make the legs out of four pieces instead of two and add the pocket when you sew up the outer leg.

shayneko1 year ago
I want to say thank you.. I am a plus size woman and its 40 or more bucks for pajamma pants and I wear mine out so fast since I love them. This has not only saved me a tone! but helped me be able to make things for gifts for friends and family members. One being a best friend that has the same issue.. thank you so much ^_^
Azalara1 year ago
My favourite Instructable! Thank you SEW much for sharing this, I will never buy pajama pants again! I didn't have paper for a pattern, or an iron to press the edges, and my PJ's still turned out great! They're zebra print, so I will DEFINITELY wear them out for my next latte, old women tut-tutting is too entertaining to pass up!
mapalch1 year ago
Great tutorial! Thanks for your efforts - it is way better/easier than following a store-bought pattern. Just made some pj pants and they turned out great!
musicalsoul2 years ago
Hi this was a great instructable, i was wondering though how much matierial would you reommend for really big lounge pants?
cphillips212 years ago
These instructions are very helpful. I have a question. I'd like to make these pajama pants footed. Do you have instructions for this? I have purchased the non-slip material to use. Thanks
compwalla (author)  cphillips212 years ago
I sure don't. :( I think you could probably find a commerical pattern for jammies with feet. I am envisioning elastic around the ankles and a foot part you join to the bottom of the pant leg but I don't have anything written up to follow for feetie pajamas. Good luck!
nbrandt12 years ago
I loved this tutorial. I have been sewing since I was about 12, so I already knew all this, but it was fun to read the "snarky" comments. I'm going to make a bunch of pajama pants for my son for Christmas as he's outgrown all the ones I've made him in the past. Thanks for the fun read.
Maddymaba2 years ago
These were my first real attempt at making anything that wasn't a bag. They turned out great and look adorable on my daughter! Your instructions were easy to follow especially for me as a beginner. Thanks!
hayland2 years ago
Just made my son a pair of these, they fit great and he loves them:) Thank you for the easy instructions. I am new at sewing, just bought an old sewing machine and have only made a jean purse before these and had no problem:)
Mama Tea3 years ago
Great tutorial! Perfect for revamping my kids' fall pj supply :-)
I got a sewing machine just yesterday, and was able to make these as my first project, even though I'd never worked a sewing machine before. I'd say that means you have some pretty great instructions:)

My pants came out looking pretty good, but I had some thread mishaps;) Not the fault of these instructions at all, just a learning curve for a newbie. I will be using this instructable again in the future! Thanks so much for instructions so easy a total novice can use them! Witty AND useful. I love it!
magestuff6 years ago
Thank you so much for these instructions. I am making lounge pants for my daughter right now! I am at step 6 and it looks so pretty already. Got to go buy wide elastic as I think it will help to keep elastic from twisting after a few uses. Does this happen to you? any tips? By the way this is the first time I am making any kind of clothing for my kids and I am very excited.
compwalla (author)  magestuff6 years ago
The wide elastic does help and so does sewing your casing as narrow as you can get away with. I try to sew mine just slightly wider than the elastic I'm using so there isn't as much room for the elastic to turn around in the casing in the washing machine. Good luck!
I used to use really wide elastic in waistbands until I discovered the wonders of soft six-cord elastic; its strong enough but very flexible and despite being fairly narrow, never ever twists up in a waistband even if you don't make the casing very narrow itself. I got a reel of 250 metres for only about £8 from ebay. Its really good for those with sensitive skin or sensory issues as well because even inside a fabric casing the wider types of elastic can be irritating to such people.
thanks for the info. I finished two lounge pants for my kids. They look great and they love them too. I went with the wider elastic. but next time I'll use a narrow one. Now that I know I can sew something sucessfully I am moving onto coats for kids!
If you put a tack (several small stitches on top of each other - you can also use a brief zig-zag stitch with the stitch length set to 0) at the four compass points of the waistband, that helps considerably with the rolling/twisting factor without interfering with the stretch of the elastic.
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