Tag Archives: pajama pant sewing tutorial

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: update

pyjama sew along 2Hello my intrepid sew-along friends!

I am writing to apologize for not posting the next set of steps this past weekend.  My mother was very sick on Sunday (when I was going to write and post the next sew-along post) and had to have emergency surgery.

I am going to beg that you all not give up on this project.  I will be back with another post but probably not until next week.  Then I may decide to do smaller posts that will be easier to manage while caring for my mother’s situation.

Thank you so much for joining my sewing adventure and I hope we’ll all pick up next week and continue on our fun trip!

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: part 1


pyjama sew along 2

Before you cut your pattern pieces out of fabric you are going to have to cut the tissue pattern pieces out and take some measurements to see if you need to adjust the length of the pants or the crotch depth.  So if you haven’t already pre-washed your fabric – get it in the wash now.

How to pre-shrink your fabric and when you should do it:

Whenever you sew clothing out of natural fibers you need to pre-shrink your fabric unless you only plan to dry clean them later.  Polyester and other synthetic fibers don’t shrink and blends that have a large percentage of synthetics don’t generally shrink either.  Cotton shrinks at first.  If you don’t preshrink it before cutting out your pattern you may end up with a garment that doesn’t fit you.

Wash your fabric with a like colored load.  I have not had a problem with fabric dye bleeding in years as most dyes are truly fixed but if your fabric is red or red is a dominant color in a print – I would wash it by itself to be safe.  Wash the fabric exactly as you will be washing the finished garment.  If you always use cold water and delicate cycles – do that.  If you wash on hot or warm – do that.  Dry the fabric exactly as you will be drying the garment.  Be sure to remove the fabric as soon as it’s done drying to prevent deep wrinkles from setting in it and iron it right away.

Cutting the tissue pieces out.

Unfold your sheets of tissue and look for the pants pattern which are numbered 8 and 9.  You will notice that they have included the cutting lines for pajama shorts.  If you want to make shorts instead of pants go ahead and cut along the lines for the size you’re making.  If you are making the pants – note that the shorts hem protrudes out of the side of the pants’ cutting line.  If you can eyeball cutting right through it go ahead.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing that here’s how to deal with it:

cutting out pattern 2Using a clear ruler (you can use an opaque one but it is much harder to see what you’re doing) connect the cutting line above and below the shorts hem and mark that line with a pencil.

cutting pattern out 1Now you can cut the whole piece out and the cutting line is unbroken and easy to see.

cutting out pattern 3Cut both pieces out.  Disable the steam function on your iron and iron the pattern pieces.  I can promise you that this is not a wasted step.  Crinkled pattern pieces can cause your fabric pieces to be misshapen and not sew well together.

Making fit adjustments for length and crotch depth:

Pattern companies can’t make patterns that fit every single person.  They work with averages and that might not be you.  So before you cut your pattern out of fabric you want to compare a couple of measurements and if necessary, make adjustments.

The easiest adjustment you can make is the length of the the pant.  You will need help measuring your inseam to see if you need to shorten or lengthen the pattern.  Here are some good instructions for how to get this measurement: 12 Ways to Take Measurements

To shorten your pants:

adjusting length 1This is my friend Chelsea’s pattern.   She is 3″ shorter than the pattern so I showed her how to shorten it.  She wanted to know why she couldn’t just take the inches off the hem.  If the pants were perfectly straight you could do this but they taper in from the top to the bottom and have a shaped hem.  So you want to adjust the length roughly in the middle of the pant legs.  This will preserve the proportions of the pattern the best.

Most patterns provide a line on the patter to show you where to adjust the length.  This one provides a line for adjusting the crotch depth but not the length.  You will need to draw one yourself.  use a ruler and to make sure it’s perpendicular to the grain line.

adjusting length 2

Fold the pattern up 1/2 the total amount you’re shortening the pants by.

adjusting length 3Once you’ve done this your cutting line will be messed up.  Use some scrap tissue from your pattern – cut out a piece that is about 2″ wide by about 8″ long.  No need to be exact.

adjusting length 4Use a ruler to match the pattern line above the adjustment to the pattern line below it and mark it with a pencil.

adjusting length 5Now you have a new cutting line.  Trim off the excess tissue following your new cutting line.  Remember that you need to make the same adjustments to BOTH your pant pattern pieces.

To lengthen your pants:

adding length 2Draw a cutting line across the width of the pattern about half way between the waist and the hem that is perfectly perpendicular to the grain line (the long line with arrows running the length of the pattern).

Cut the pattern in half.

adding length 7Tape a long piece of scrap tissue that is at least 2″ wider than the amount you need to lengthen the pants by and is at least a couple of inches wider than the pants on each side.

adding lenght 8Measure down whatever length you need to add from the cut edge of your pattern and mark it.  Either mark it in a solid line all the way across the width or do a few marks with your pencil to help you tape the bottom of your pants back onto the top evenly.

adding length 6Tape the cut edge of the lower half of your pants pattern to the new line you have made on the tissue.

adding length 5Like so.  You have to draw a new cutting line on each side to smooth out the differences the lengthening created.

trim along new edgeTrim the excess tissue off.  Remember that you need to do the same adjustments to BOTH your pant pattern pieces.

Measure your crotch depth.  Every time I say or read that word I think of “crotch rot!” and am thoroughly disturbed.  It’s an unfortunate word but this is very important.  So those of you who are new to sewing  clothes – listen up!  There is nothing worse than sewing a pair of pants and then discovering that the crotch hangs to your knees gangster-style or that it barely covers your pubic area.

measuring crotch depthSit on a hard flat surface and use a measuring tape to measure the distance from your natural waistline to the hard surface (I didn’t have a hard flat chair so my friend Chelsea sat on my work table for this shot – whatever works!).  Add 1 1/4″ to your measurement to allow for ease.

crotch depth 4Adjusting crotch depth: 

Measure the pattern’s crotch depth from the finished waistline (it is marked on this pattern) to the crotch line (also marked on the pattern).  If this measurement is more than your measurement – you will want to shorten the pattern at the line provided (it’s that double line you see near my notations and you can use either one).  Fold it up just like I showed you in the instructions for adjusting for length.

crotch depth 2Redraw the cutting line to match up above and below your fold.  Trim off the excess.  Remember that you need to do the same adjustments to BOTH your pant pattern pieces.

To lengthen the crotch depth:

crotch depth 1If the pattern crotch depth is shorter than your measurement you need to lengthen it.  Cut the pattern apart at the crotch line.

crotch depth 5Follow the instructions for lengthening the pants – you will take all the same steps.  Remember that you need to do the same adjustments to BOTH your pant pattern pieces.

You are now ready to cut the pattern out of fabric!  My friend Chelsea and I have discovered that what was supposed to be 45″ fabric shrank to a mere 42″ for her and my own fabric is barely 41″.  We are both sewing the XL size.  The pattern indicates that you can lay out your pattern with your fabric folded lengthwise and it turns out that this is a big fat lie.  If your fabric is truly 45″ wide or if you are sewing one of the smaller sizes you should be able to follow their guide.



laying out the pattern 1This is how both Chelsea and I had to lay out our pattern.  Pin your pattern down to the fabric to keep it stable while you cut it out.cutting out fabric 2Cut the whole thing out.

cutting out notchesCut out the notches – this is how you will match up your pieces correctly so it’s important.

Don’t unpin the pattern from the fabric until you’re ready to start sewing.  Fold up your pieces neatly and put them somewhere safe.

That’s the end of the first tutorial.  I’ll be back next weekend with the next set of instructions.  In the meantime – please let me know if you need more clarification on anything in this post and I’ll answer your questions.

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: Introduction and Supplies List

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: First Steps

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: Part 2

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: Part 3

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: Introduction and Supplies List

pyjama sew along 2If you have been wanting to learn to sew clothes but don’t know where to start or are intimidated and need some guidance – this is the place to begin and I am here to help you. Sewing clothes can be fun and rewarding and the more experience you gain the more control you’ll have over the details that make it worthwhile such as custom fit and custom design elements.

Pajama pants are an ideal simple pattern to start with.  You’ll learn some basic sewing terms and skills and end up with a comfortable pair of pants to lounge in.  C’mon – let’s make a pair together!

If you’re an experienced clothes sewer but you want to join this sew along for the fun of it – you are welcome to join!  The instructions will be completely geared towards absolute beginners but you can ignore what you don’t need and speed ahead and meet us at the end for the show and tell.

pyjama pattern“B” is the pattern we’ll be sewing but if you would like to make “C” instead – it’s the same pattern but shortened and I’ll be sure to explain how to shorten the pattern if any of you want to make the shorts.

How the sew-along will work:

The sew-along starts June 1st.

I will divide the project into 4 instructional posts that will be posted once a week.  If you want to sew ahead because you can or you want to try – go for it.  But it’s totally cool to take this project in small doses week by week – which I highly recommend for new sewers.

Tell me you’re joining in the comments section.

You can join without even telling me – just get the supplies and follow along.

When the project is finished everyone will submit a jpeg image of their finished pajama pants to my email (angelinawilliamson1(at)gmail(dot)com)and you will be entered to win the pair I’m making in XL in that adorable red fox fabric seen above.  No photo of your finished pants – no entry.

But the most important reason to submit pictures of your finished project is so we can all share and enjoy each other’s work at the end.  No judgements – just the fun of having made something together.

Supplies you will need to join this sew along:

A sewing machine or access to one.

An iron and ironing board.

Sharp fabric scissors.

Simplicity pattern #5314 in either in AA  (S, M, L) or BB (XL, XXL, XXXL)

100% cotton fabric in the amount indicated for the size you’re sewing.

1 spool of matching thread.

1 yard of 1/2″ width elastic.

1 7/8 yard of 1/2″ twill tape.

How to choose your pattern size:

Forget about what size you are in off the rack clothing. It bears no relation to what size you wear in commercial patterns.  It’s all about measurements.  For this pattern you need to know what your waist and hip size is.  Look on the pattern envelope at the “Body Measurements” section.  Find the size that comes closest to your measurements.

How to take your body measurements.

A tip: if your waist is larger than your hips – choose the size that matches your waist measurement.  If your hips are larger than your waist – pick the size that matches your hips.  If you’re measurements are between sizes – always ALWAYS pick the larger size.  It is much easier to cinch a waistline in than to adjust the pattern to make the waistline bigger.

This is not the time to be vain about numbers.   You’re going to put your time and energy into making something fabulous for yourself – for it to be truly fabulous it needs to actually fit you.

How to choose your fabric:

You want to choose any fabric that is 100% woven cotton, light to medium weight.  You’re going to be lounging and/or sleeping in this pair of pajama pants and while you could make them out of a cotton polyester blend – I can’t recommend it.  That stuff is not healthy.  Especially if you have the horrid misfortune to get caught in a fire while wearing it.  Also avoid using fabrics that have been treated with a flame retardant.  It may retard flames but it may also retard other things like biological functioning as it is toxic crap.

Quilting cottons will work great.  Lighter weight novelty cottons will also work great.  You can find the content of any bolt of fabric at the very top of the cardboard bolt.  You can also find out the fabric width there.  Most 100% cotton quilting and novelty fabrics are 45″ wide and this is perfect.

The amount of yardage you need will depend on what size you’re sewing and what width of fabric you’re using.  This information is always listed on the back of the pattern envelope.

Choosing elastic and twill tape:

Everyone knows what elastic is unless they’ve been living in an elastic-free monastery.  It doesn’t generally come in very many color choices in the fabric store so it’s usually going to be either black, white, or natural.  Choose the black for any medium to dark colored prints or solid fabrics.  Choose white for any light colored solids or printed fabrics.  You can use the natural for any of the light colored solids or printed fabrics too – except for solid white.  A natural unbleached elastic may show through a light weight or medium weight solid white fabric and for the most professional results you don’t want a darker elastic showing through your casing.

Not as many people know what twill tape is so here’s what you’re looking for:

half inch twill tapeLike elastic – it doesn’t generally come in many color options so use the same rules for twill that you do for elastic.  If you have a darker print or solid fabric and can’t find a matching or even dark twill tape – then go for the natural.

I always choose natural unbleached things when I can for two reasons – the less bleach in my life or on the planet being used – the better for all.  But more selfishly than that – I hate white.  I ruin white things.  White depresses me in wall paints, carpets, and furnishings and I can’t tell if it’s because it’s so stark and blinding or because I know if it was in my possession I would destroy it in a matter of hours.  While white clothing can sometimes be fetching – I am especially skilled at spilling things or sitting on gross staining things when wearing white.  So I don’t ever wear it. 

But you may like white.  Maybe white cheers you up or makes you feel bright and sunshiny.  That’s cool.  Go with what works for you as long as you first pay attention to the details above.

Choosing thread:

I know I said polyester is the antichrist but when it comes to thread I always choose either a cotton/poly blend or 100% polyester thread unless it’s for a quilt.  The reason is this – most 100% cotton threads are weaker than a blend or completely synthetic.  The downside of polyester thread is that irons like to melt it on hot settings so you need to be careful.

Does brand matter?  I only use two brands of sewing thread for my regular sewing machine (I am less particular about my serger threads) and I don’t think of one as better than the other (though I’m sure you can find people who passionately prefer one over the other).  I either use Coats & Clark Dual Duty or Gutermann.  Coats is generally much less expensive than Gutermann.  Joanne’s frequently has sales on thread so be sure to check for 40% coupons which you can print from their online site.

A 300 yard spool is fine for this project if you have a serger to over-cast your edges with.  If you don’t have access to a serger I’m going to show you how to use your zigzag stitch to keep your edges from fraying – so if this is you – you’ll need a larger spool with between 500 and 600 yards of thread on it.

Matching your thread to your fabric.  If you are not good at matching colors – bring a friend with you who is.  Having your thread match your fabric is one of the most important ways you can make your garment look professional.  If you’re using a printed fabric you want to match the main color in it.  If there’s a background color that’s prominent – that’s what you want to match.  If there isn’t a distinctly prominent color then look for threads that when you hold it against the fabric seem the least noticeable.  You want your thread to look as invisible to the eye as possible.  Unless you are purposely using contrasting thread as a design feature.  But that’s not what you’re doing with this project.

Do you really need sharp fabric scissors?

Yes.  You do.  Unless you actually enjoy tearing your hair out in frustration.  If you have a pair of super sharp scissors that aren’t specifically meant for fabric – feel free to try them out.  If they aren’t meant for fabric – even if they work well at first – they will dull quickly and you will hate them and you will hate sewing and you will probably become a menace to anyone standing nearby.

If this is your first project and you don’t know if you’ll ever do another one – don’t buy them – borrow a pair from a friend.  You are almost certain to know someone who has a pair who will lend them to you for this project.  They aren’t horribly expensive considering their value to you in this endeavor and you can sometimes get them on heavy discount.  I personally think that this is one of those things everyone should have in their homes anyway.  You never know when you’re going to need to cut up some sheets into bandages in a post apocalyptic situation and woe is the person who has to do that with paper scissors.

Iron and Ironing board:

Technically speaking, you don’t have to have an ironing board.  You can fold a towel across a non-meltable or flammable surface (like wood or metal) and iron on that.  I don’t recommend it.  But if that’s what you have to do – it will work.  You can sometimes find super cheap ironing boards at thrift stores or at yard sales if you’re looking for the cheapest option available.  If you get one used – be certain to test it out before buying to make sure that it can be brought to its full height and not collapse when you put pressure on it.

You cannot sew clothes without an iron.  I mean, you CAN, but you shouldn’t and I won’t endorse it.  One of the most important tools in sewing is your iron.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy but it needs to get hot and have a steam button.  You probably already have one.  If you don’t, you need to buy or borrow one.

If you have any questions about things I didn’t cover or that are still unclear – please leave your question in the comments and I will answer them.

Okay – go get those supplies and we’ll get this project going!

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: First Steps

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: Part 1

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: Part 2

Pajama Pant Sew-Along: Part 3