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I have a soft spot for PJ pants because they’re so comfortable and they’re easy to sew. And, because you wear them to lounge around the house, it doesn’t matter if they’re not absolutely perfect, so it’s a fabulous first garment for beginners to sew!
Another good thing about you wearing them only at home? You can go wild with your fabric choices! My son, for example, would never wear those colorful stripes out in public, but he loves them at home!
Speaking of fabric, another reason why I love sewing pajama pants is that I can use one of my favorite eco-friendly fabrics: thrifted bedsheets!
One sheet gives you quite a bit of yardage at just a fraction of the price, and you’re also helping the environment by reusing unwanted materials and avoiding the production of new materials. And second-hand shops have an amazing selection of solid-coloured and vintage printed sheets!
I used that same striped sheet a few years ago for my One Square Tote Bag tutorial!
Are you a beginner sewist, or have you been sewing for decades? This is a great project for you no matter your experience! I put every single detail and tip in this pajama pants tutorial so that beginners can follow it successfully, so if you’re advanced, you can just skip around and follow the basic steps.
Watch the video below for all the details, or continue reading for the pajama pants tutorial!
Materials for the pajama pants tutorial
- PJ pants pattern. Click here to learn how to draft your own simple pants pattern or check out my Evening Primrose pajama pants pattern for women or the version for children!
- woven fabric (I use thrifted cotten bedsheets)
- iron + ironing board
- sleeve ironing board* (great for hems!)
- fabric shears*
- straight pins*
- size 90 sewing machine needle*
- thread to match the fabric*
- safety pins*
- 2 cm (3/4”) wide elastic or the width needed for your pattern*
- ruler or sewing gauge*
Prepare the pattern
I won’t get into preparing your pants pattern in this post. You have two choices. First, draft your own basic pants pattern from a pair of pants that fit you. In this tutorial I’m using my self-drafted pattern traced from a pair of my son’s pants that fit him correctly.
Or save energy and give yourself lots of options with my women’s Evening Primrose pajama pants pattern. There’s also a bundle with the versions of the pattern for both women and children, with 17 sizes total starting age 2, 3 lengths, elastic or drawstring waistband and optional hidden in-seam pockets, that way you can personalize your PJs to the max!
The pattern comes in two versions: print at home or copyshop. The copyshop version, seen above, gets printed out on large format paper. No assembly necessary! Or just print the other pattern file on your home printer and assemble it with invisible tape.
You can cut out your size, but I suggest tracing over your size with tissue paper, like I’m doing in the image above, so that you can reuse the pattern for other sizes and options without having to reprint it!
Cut out the fabric
You will need to cut two of each pattern piece. However they have to be mirrored so that you have left and right sides. (You can read more here about cutting mirrored pieces.)
Before you start, though, check your fabric. The picture above shows a directional print fabric. Notice how the strawberries all face the same direction. Therefore you have to make sure to position the pattern pieces so that the strawberries will be in the right direction in your sewn project.
You have more options for pattern placement when you use a solid color. In the picture above you can see two placements. The one below, where each pant leg goes in a different direction, wastes less fabric (shown by the arrows).
I don’t have good pictures for this next part because the sheet I was using was just too big to show well.
Fold the fabric in half, right sides facing, and position the two pattern pieces on it. Pay attention to the direction of the print (if there is one) and the direction of the grainline, if you’re using a pattern that isn’t self-drafted.
Pin the pattern to the fabric and cut around the pattern.
If you’re using a printed or other fabric where the right and wrong sides are easy to tell apart, you can skip this part. But if you’re using a solid color, like I am here, I highly suggest you mark the wrong sides of the fabric to avoid confusion later on!
To do this, unpin just a corner of the pattern and make a pen mark at the top corner, inside the seam allowance, right under the pattern. (above left) Then, holding the two layers of fabric together, flip them over and do the same on the bottom layer. (above right)
Do this with both the front and back pieces. Now you’ll be able to easily tell the wrong sides of the fabric (with the pen mark) from the right sides (without the pen mark).
Sew the pant legs
1. Unpin the back leg pieces. Lift off the top layer and flip it over so that both pieces are right sides up. (Notice how the pieces are mirrored.)
2. Unpin the front leg pieces. Move the top layer directly on to the corresponding back piece. Flip the bottom layer the other side up and put it on the other back piece. The front pieces are now wrong sides up, and the two layers of each leg are right sides facing.
Line up the long edges of each pair. Pin them together and then sew with the seam allowance that your pattern instructions call for. I drafted my pattern with a 1 cm seam allowance, so that’s what I used.
Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end of all your stitching!
Just a note: you should use thread that matches your fabric. I used a darker thread so that it would show up better in the photos.
3. Starting at the bottom of each leg, lift and move the top layer of fabric (the front) so as to match the inner leg edges.
4. Pin the edges in place. Notice that, as you move the top layer of fabric, the side seam you already sewed will get pulled up. That is totally expected and normal.
5. Continue matching up the inner legs and pinning them, all the way up to the crotch. It’s ok if the tips of the crotch don’t match perfectly, because you can trim them later. Mine don’t match up because my traced pattern pieces weren’t exactly perfect. It’s not a problem!
6. Sew down the inner legs with the same seam allowance. Then trim the seam allowances down to about 5 mm and sew directly along the edges with a zig zag stitch. This keeps the cut fabric from fraying in the washing machine.
(I used an overlock machine to finish off my edges, but the zig zag stitch is fine.)
7. Reach your hand into one of the pant legs (either one) from the top.
8. Grab the bottom of the leg and pull it out so that the leg is right side out.
7. (Yes, I accidentally repeated steps 7 and 8 in the images! Whoops!) Hold the bottom of the leg that is right side out and slip it into the other leg from the top. The two legs will now be one inside the other and right sides facing.
8. Hold the bottoms of both legs while you adjust the two legs so that they’re one inside the other.
9. Match up the two inner leg seams. (Notice how the fabrics are right sides facing.)
10. Join the two seams so that the fabric on either side of them match up, as well.
11. Pin together the fabric at the seams. I move the top seam over to the left and the bottom seam to the right to reduce the bulk in that point, making it easier to sew.
12. Continue matching up the fabric on one side of the center seam and pinning it together.
13. Continue pinning on the other side of the seams, too, all the way up to the waist.
14. Sew along the curve with the same seam allowance as before, then trim the seam allowances to 5 mm and finish them off with the zig zag stitch. This part will be easier to sew if you use your sewing machine’s free arm.
15. Put your hand back through the pant legs and grab the bottom of the leg on the inside.
16. Pull the leg out and adjust your trousers so that they’re wrong side out.
Hurrah! They’re starting to look like actual clothing!
Hem the pajama pants
I highly suggest you use a sleeve ironing board* to hem your pants. It will be a lot easier this way!
Slip the pant leg over the mini ironing board and steam press the two seams flat.
Again, refer to your pattern instructions for the amounts to fold over for the hem. When I drafted my pattern, I calculated one fold of 0.5 cm, then a second fold of 1.5 cm.
17. Starting at one seam, fold over the first amount required by your pattern. (In my case, 0.5 cm.) Use a ruler or sewing gauge* to help get it right. Steam press the fold. Then rotate the leg and repeat at the other seam. Then rotate the leg again to repeat in the areas between the two seams.
18. Repeat step 17, but this time folding over the second amount required by your pattern. (In my case, 1.5 cm.)
19. Insert a few pins to hold the second fold in place.
20. Slip the leg around your sewing machine’s free arm and sew around the hem as close as possible to the inner fold.
Sew the waistband casing
As with the hems, refer to your pattern instructions for the amounts to fold over for the waistband. When I drafted my pattern, I calculated one fold of 0.5 cm, then a second fold of 2 cm.
(The picture below shows the sleeve ironing board*. The only reason I used it for this tutorial is because I already had it handy for the pictures! Use a regular ironing board for this part!)
21. Steam press the four seams flat. Starting at one of the center seams, fold over the first amount required by your pattern. (In my case, 0.5 cm). Use a ruler or sewing gauge* to help get it right. Steam press the fold. Then rotate the waist and repeat at the other three seams. Then rotate it again to repeat in the areas between the seams.
22. Repeat step 21, but this time folding over the second amount required by your pattern. (In my case, 2 cm). Insert a few pins to hold the second fold in place. Notice that I used two sets of double pins about 5 cm apart at the center back seam. (Shown by arrows.)
Slip the waist opening around your sewing machine’s free arm and sew around the top as close as possible to the inner fold, starting from one set of double pins all the way around to the other set of double pins. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end. DO NOT SEW between the two sets of double pins! This is the space for inserting the elastic.
Insert the elastic
23. Measure around the waist of the person who will wear the pants (or consult the pattern instructions for elastic length). Subtract 2.5 cm (or 1″) from that and cut the elastic to that length. (This picture shows the original waist circumference at the right pen marking, and the adjusted length to cut at the left pen marking.)
24. Stick a large safety pin* into the end of the elastic.
25. Insert the safety pin into the opening in the waistband casing. Push it through, scrunching up the fabric.
26. Holding the safety pin through the fabric, pull the fabric out straight. The elastic will get pulled inside the casing.
27. Continue threading the safety pin through the casing until it comes out again through the opening. Make sure that the elastic isn’t twisted inside the casing, then overlap the ends 2.5 cm (or 1″).
I suggest pinning the elastic ends together with small safety pins* so that the person can try them on. If the waist is too tight, overlap the elastic ends by less. If the waist is too loose, overlap them more. (In this case, trim off some of the extra elastic.)
28. When the fit is right, use regular straight pins* to pin the elastic ends and sew them together. Then pull on the fabric of the casing to pull the elastic back into the casing.
Optional back tag
29. Cut a short piece of ribbon and fold it in half.
30. Stick the cut ends of the ribbon under the folded edge of the casing and pin in place.
Close the waistband casing
I suggest putting something to mark the back of the pants, especially if a child will wear them.
31. Sew the rest of the casing closed, sewing close to the inner fold of fabric. Be careful not to sew into the elastic.
If you’ve included a tag, it will get sewn in place.
And you are done! Don’t your DIY pajama pants look fabulous?
Not only that, they FEEL fabulous! Only people with the courage to make their own clothes can experience the immense feeling of satisfaction when you wear something you sewed yourself!
So now that you know how to sew your own pajama pants, make another pair for yourself and then more for all your friends!
If you’re a beginner sewist and you enjoyed this pajama pants tutorial, make sure you check out the FREE Cucicucicoo Learn to Machine Sew beginner’s sewing course to learn all the basic techniques! And don’t forget to share pictures of your work in the Cucicucicoo Creations Facebook group, or on Instagram or other social media with the hashtags #cucicucicoo or #cucicucicoopatterns!
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