Friday, April 18, 2014

"P" is for Pajama Pants

I'm feeling a little foggy headed today, and apparently so is the blog. It's fighting me on loading up pictures. Thank goodness the weekend is coming. I think I might need it. I've managed to catch a spring cold and I'm just this side of miserable. Sick is not my favorite thing to be.

Today's A to Z Challenge post is for the letter "P". And "P" is for pajama pants...something I hope to be comfortably wearing in a couple of hours. Can I just stay in bed for a few days and be lazy? Because that sounds lovely.

I made a pile of these pajama pants for Christmas presents...and then managed not to make a pair for myself. What the heck happened there? I was going to make myself a pair to add some better pictures to this post, but I don't have enough fabric leftover for an adult sized pair. Drat.

There are a bunch of different tutorials out there for making drawstring pants, but I took what I liked best from a few of them and made my own. Because I'm a maverick like that. I think it turned out to be a fairly straightforward process in my book.

(In full disclosure, there was a small learning curve, but I think I've worked out the kinks and can now sew a pair in about two hours with minimal seam ripping and/or cursing.)

All of the pairs you'll see in today's post are made out of flannel...or was it fleece...both? Criminy. I'm telling you. Foggy head.

Alright...I'm a genius. I figured it out. Apparently I used both flannel and fleece. No wonder I was getting confused. So, I guess what I'm saying here is that you can use whatever floats your boat. There. Much better. here's what you'll need:

Main Pattern Fabric : For an adult, plan on between 2 & 1/2 yards. For a child, somewhere around a yard (depending on age).

Contrasting Fabric (for the cuffs) : You can skip this step if you want to, but I like the added color. You'll need about 1/2 yard here.

Drawstring Material : I used ribbon. Nothing terribly fancy, just a 7/8" satin ribbon. I buy it by the spool for less than $2.

Those are the main materials. Now obviously you'll need a method for sewing stuff together (machine or needle...I prefer machine), something to cut your fabric (rotary cutter and/or scissors), and some thread to get it all to stay together. You'll also need something to make your pattern with.

In my case, I used a roll of wrapping paper. You see, we ran out of wrapping paper one year, just a day or two before Christmas. I sent Collin out to get more. Mistake number one. He ended up coming back with paper that I hated. I refused to use it. (Because I'm really appreciative like that.) So it has just sat upstairs taking up room. This was finally a good use for it.

To get started, find a pair of existing pajama pants in about the right size. If you don't have a pair of pajama pants, a pair of good fitting jeans, trousers or other style pants will work. You'll just have to make more adjustments in this case.

Fold the pants in half and smooth them out. If they're really a wrinkled mess or just refuse to smooth out, iron them as flat as possible. I know, I hate ironing too, but it will make your life easier. I promise.

Trace around the pants. If you're using a pair of pants other than pajamas, add about 1/2" around each edge to increase your bagginess. You don't want them to be too snug or it defeats the whole point of a comfy set of pajamas.

Add 3" to the top length of the pants to allow for a drawstring casing and add 2-3" to the bottom of the leg if you're adding a cuff (depending on how long you want it to be). One last addition...add 1/2" along the curved side for the full length of the pattern. This will give you your seam allowance. (You'll be using the straight edge as a fold, so you won't need an extra allowance there.

Cut out your newly made pattern.

If you have opted for cuffs, you'll need to cut that length from the pattern. We added 2-3" earlier because we'll want to double it up for a nice folded bottom edge. So you'll cut off a total length of 4-6" from your main pattern (depending on how wide you wanted your cuff).

Fold your contrasting fabric in half (which is totally not ironed in the above photo and looks like a disaster) so that the folded edge will be the short side of your cuff section, and lay your new cuff pattern on top. Cut the cuff out, leaving the folded edge in tact. This will keep you from needing more than one seam. Much easier. Do this for each leg.

Use your main pattern to do the same with the larger portion of the pants. Again, fold the fabric in half and use the folded edge for the straight edge of the leg. You'll want to do this twice (again) so that you have two legs.

Fold the cuff in half width-wise and iron. You should now have a long strip of fabric that is about 2" wide. The folded edge will be the bottom of your pant leg.

Now we're going to sew the cuff material on to the main leg of the pants. Pin the two right sides together (the sides you want on the outside) with the open edge of the cuff fabric and the pins at the bottom edge. This will become the seam on the inside of the pant leg.

Stitch the full length of the strip.

Tada! You have a cuff!

Fold the fabric back in half with like sides together and pin from the pointed portion of the curve down to the edge of the cuff. Don't pin the curved section just yet. That comes later.

Sew the full length of your pinned area with a 1/2" seam. Repeat for the other leg.

Now we're going to sew the two leg sections together to create the crotch area. You'll want to have all of your seams pressed open for this step to make things look nice and pretty.

Turn one of your legs inside out and leave the other right side out. Slide the right side out leg inside of the other, match up the edges, and pin. You should now basically have two right sides pinned together.

Stitch along the pinned "U" shaped edge. Flip your pants right side out. Hey! They actually kind of look like pants now!

Now we need to sew the casing for your drawstring. This can get a little confusing, so take it slow.

Fold your top edge to the inside 1/2" and iron this flat. I know...this is a lot of ironing. I'm sorry. I hate ironing too. 

Now you're going to measure down from this folded edge 2 1/4" and mark for the bottoms of your buttonholes out 1/2" from the center seam - one on each side. You'll want 3/4" button holes. You can either sew these by hand or use your machine if it has an automatic setting. An automatic setting machine will just need a button of about 3/4" in diameter to help it gauge the size for the hole to sew.

Sew your buttonholes and cut them open. Now turn your pants inside out and fold that top edge down 2 1/2". Pin all the way around and sew this shut with a 1/4-1/2" seam allowance. Smaller is better in order to allow enough width in the casing.

Flip the pants back to the correct direction (there's a lot of fabric flipping with this project) and thread your ribbon through the buttonholes and the casing using a safety pin to help you guide it around the waist. Tie a knot at each end of the ribbon and cut the edge at a diagonal to keep it from fraying.

Tada! Pants!

Now...if you got lost at any point due to a lack of step by step pictures (I promise that I'm working on getting better at this with each new project), the tutorial closest to the way I made my pants is this one over at Sew4Home.

Thanks to all of you stopping by from A-to-Z Challenge! I love new readers. Make sure to leave me a comment below (including your blog address) so that I can return the favor by visiting you. 


  1. I hope you are feeling better soon. I think a day in PJ's sounds like an excellent idea. Happy weekend!!

    1. Thanks for the well wishes. I have made it into the PJ's and they are wonderful!

  2. Another cure project of yours. My mom sometimes sew PJ's but not that cute. I think I can make one myself. Thanks for sharing.


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