Pants obsession part deux (plus a tutorial):

Admittedly, its not just baby pants sewing that I’m obsessed with, its any pants sewing.  Pajama pants sewing, that is.  These aren’t as fancy as the baby pants – no double sided, fancy cuff, with cute back yoke…. but they’re easy, fun, and a super quick project.  Here’s what I do:

Ideally, you have a pair of pants you can use as a pattern. But, if you’re making a pair as a gift, you might just have to head over to goodwill, buy a cheap-o pair of pants (khakis, pjs, really any basic pants without cargo pockets or something to get in the way work perfectly well) and get started.

There are precisely 7,863 elastic-waist/pj/[insert your name for a pair of no fly, comfy] pants patterns out there.  When I started making PJ pants – for the hubs, for the kiddos – I took a few different tutorials online and morphed it into my own little tutorial.  For those who desire the 7,864th elastic pants tutorial, here goes:


  • Pair of pants to use as a pattern (keep the tags still on if you’re like me and bought them on clearance at Walmart and intend to return them once copied to get your $3 back)
  • Any type of wide paper (wide construction paper, muslin if you’ve got it handy, or in a pinch, wrapping paper works like a charm)
  • Notions: scissors, pencil, thread, 1/2” elastic

Make Pattern:

Steal Borrow heavy duty construction paper from the carpenter doing work in your basement.  Or if you’re really living on the edge, you can trace the pants directly onto your fabric.  This requires a bit of guts (and for me, wine), and since I’m off the sauce for the next few months, I’ll stick to creating my pattern on paper first.

Trace Your Pattern:  

Fold your pants in half and lay them on your paper.  Trace around the edge of your pants.  Trace 2” below the ankle and above the waist to allow for hemming.

Trace 1/2” away from the edge on the side of the pants.  Stretch the waistband out when tracing to allow for extra room when inserting your elastic or drawstring at the waist.

Once you have created your pattern on paper, cut it out on the traced lines.

Cut Fabric:

Then grab your fabric and fold it in half (right sides together) and place the paper pattern on top of your fabric so that the fold line of the pattern is lined up with the fold in your fabric.  Cut it out twice (one for each leg.)  Do not cut the fold of the fabric.

To create pants with a higher waist in back (for anyone with curves – not necessary for your 6 year old stick figure nephew):

Open up each cut piece and, still keeping them right sides facing and lined up, cut a diagonal line from the top of one side of the waist to approximately 1.5” below the top of the opposite side of the fabric.

Treat Raw Edges:

Before you begin sewing, zig-zag the raw edges (all fabric edges except the waist and hem).

Sewing the Legs:

Sew each pant leg (right sides together) from ankle hem to crotch using a 3/8” seam allowance.  Press seams open.

Sewing the Crotch:

Turn one leg right side out and slip it inside the other leg.  Match up the side seams (right sides together) that you just sewed and pin and sew from the crotch to the waist (as indicated by the dotted line.)  I reinforce this seam 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 pants inside out.

Finish the Waist (Method 1 – Elastic Waist):

If you’re making PJ pants, pants for kids or just a pair of super easy comfy pants for yourself, here’s how to create an elastic waist:

Fold down the top of the fabric twice (first 3/4”, then 1”) and press. This will hid the raw edge of the fabric inside and form the tunnel for the elastic.  Pin the waistband and then sew along the folded edge – leaving a 2” opening.

Cut a piece of 1/2” elastic long enough to fit around the waist plus another 2”. Hook one end of the elastic to a safety pin and attach it near the opening you left when sewing the waistband casing (so you don’t lose it when fishing the other end thru the casing.)  Hook a safety pin to the other end of the elastic and thread it thru the casing – taking care not to twist it as you go.  Once the elastic is thru, remove the pins and overlap the elastic by 1” and sew the elastic together.  Trim off extra elastic then sew across the opening to close the waistband casing.

Finish the Waist (Method 2 – Drawstring Waist):

If you’re making pants that you might actually desire to wear outside the house and want to avoid that fabulous elastic-waistband-fashion-statement, here’s how:

You will be creating buttonholes in which you will be able to insert the drawstring.  On the frontside of your pants, measure down 2” from the top of your waistband and then measure out 1” on either side of that center seam.  Mark those 2 measurements – there will be two marks, each 1” from the center seam of your pants, 2” apart.  Create a buttonhole on each marking.

Finish by folding the waistband down 1” twice and press (making sure that your folded edge is below the buttonholes you just created.)  Pin the waistband and sew along the entire folded edge.  Attach your drawstring to a safety pin and thread it thru your waistband casing.

Optional Embellishment – Attach pocket: 

I added a back pocket because its 1) cute and 2) an idiot-proof way to distinguish the back of the pants.  Here’s how:

Cut two pieces of fabric 5”x5”.  Right sides together, sew all four sides, leaving 1” opening.  Turn fabric right side out and edge stitch top edge of the pocket.  Place the pocket on the back of the pants.  Pin and sew the sides and bottom of the pocket onto the pants.


Finish up the pants by folding the legs up twice (first 3/4” then 1”).  Press the hem and pin.  Sew the hems close to the folded edge and press when you’re done.

And then whip up another pair because if you’re giving one to your nephew, you’d better have a pair ready for your niece.

And it figures that I don’t have a pic of my nephew in the finished pants, but here’s a shot of him in his flannel pjs from last year.  Worn until they eventually looked like floods on him – love that kid.

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