I’m off to violin camp with my youngest and just realized that I didn’t have any pajama pants to wear. And since we are sharing a bathroom with other families, I thought I should get these done before we leave. Fortunately for me, I already have a custom pants block to work from, making this a quick project .
I am fortunate to have taken Brooks Ann Camper’s e-Course called Smarty Pants. In this comprehensive class, we created custom pants blocks which serve as the foundation for any flat pattern design. From the blocks, we made a muslin mock-up garment to test the fit. Since I knew I wanted pajamas that were a mash-up of the two pants block styles, I simply tried them on and made the modifications from there. Don’t have a custom pants block? No problem, use any purchased garment that fits you well. By deconstructing the garment and then ironing the pieces flat, you now have a flat pattern. And from there you can decide if you need to add additional modifications due to style or fabric choices.
Cutting the Fabric
One important thing to remember when working with your custom flat pattern or deconstructed garment- you need to add seam allowances! Below you can see the 1/2″ line that I added for my design style and also the 1″ line for the seam allowance. I could have gotten away with a smaller seam allowance, mainly because I use my serger to seam, but I haven’t made this type of pants before, and I wanted some wiggle room.
Sewing pajama pants isn’t hard. In fact, this is a garment that most new sewers (especially kids) master in their first lessons. After I drafted the pattern and cut out the fabric, it was time to sew. There are several methods for constructing pants, but the one I like involves sewing both legs first and then joining them together. And since my fabric has a small amount of stretch, I opted to use my serger and coverstitch machine. I had these two machines threaded and ready from my last post so it was easy to use them here. You can master knits without either of these machines- I did it for years- but they do make things quicker, and I love the finish.
I sewed the vertical seams of both legs (inside and outside) with my serger. Then I turned one leg inside out and placed it inside the first leg, so the right sides are together. Once the vertical leg seams are lined up, you can sew the crotch seam in one go. You may need to clip the curve and use plenty of pins to get it to line up straight for sewing. I used my serger and gently guided the fabric through, making sure all the seams lined up where they meet.
When I drafted my pattern I knew I needed extra length at the front and back waist to accommodate the fold over drawstring waistband. To make the fold over waistband I finished the fabric’s raw edge with the serger, then tried on my pants. With the pants on, I marked the position of the waist with the fabric folded and then gave it a good press. I used a small zig-zag to sew the marked line, creating the channel for the drawstring. And finally, I added the drawstring with a plastic bodkin and bar tacked the opening to prevent fraying.
I used my coverstitch to quickly hem these Pineapple Pajama Pants, but you could accomplish this with a standard machine. Since I’m still figuring out my coverstitch machine, I like to give the hems a good press before running them through the machine. The optional free arm makes this much easier too!
This project was a great way to solidify what I learned in my Smarty Pants course. I knew that I needed to add width to the waist and hip areas to compensate for the drawstring application (rather than a traditional front or back zipper closure). I also needed to add more length to the waist to accommodate the drawstring, but I wish now that I would have added an actual waistband instead. Similarly, I should have taken more time to consider the layout of the pineapple print. Admittedly, I was in a bit of a rush to get these done before camp! I’m happy with how they turned out, and I will wear them, but I might have wanted the pineapples to be in a different direction or layout at the seams.
I love my Pineapple Pajama Pants! Customizing the pants blocks for this project was easy and fun to think through. Also, I know now that I could use this same idea to make a flat pattern out of a purchased garment. What about you? What have you made from a custom block or purchased garment pattern?