Yes, you read that, correctly! Only one pattern piece is required to make this pair of pyjama pants! One of my pyjama pants was long overdue for retirement as exhibited by the unpleasant signs of wear. (To my mommy friends, who recently purchased a sewing machine, here’s a good way to ease yourself into what will hopefully be a special bond between you and your machine.) By removing the out-seam (outside seam of the pants), we’re able to combine the front and the back, of each pant leg, into one pattern piece. Additionally, this is achieved by integrating the casing, home of the waistband elastic, into the pattern piece.
1. Take a large sheet of paper, and fold it half lengthwise. You probably already own a pair of pyjama pants, so grab one of your favourites, and fold that in half as well. Lay it onto the paper so that the bottom portion of the out-seam lines up with the folded edge of the paper. The upper portion of said out-seam will not line up with the folded edge with the paper due to the elastic. However, when you stretch it out, it will line up more or less with the folded edge. Additionally, you can add some ease to your garment by placing the pants about 1/2″ away from the folded edge. That will give you more room for wear.
2. Time to integrate the casing into your pattern. The width of your casing is determined by the width by your elastic of choice plus 1/4″. For example, the elastic I’m using is 3/4″ plus 1/4″; therefore, the width of my casing is going to be 1 inch. Note that the seam edge of the casing flares out from the fold line at the waist. To determine how much flare is required, fold the pattern piece at the waist fold line. You’ll be able to identify how much of that flare is included and which areas are excess.
3. You may notice, as you’re tracing out the pants, that the back and the front are not exactly the same. Designate one half as the back and the other half as the front. Reduce the curve of the crotch seam as well as its length on the front portion. For example, the length of the front crotch seam on mine is 1″ shorter than that at the back. I’ve reduced it accordingly, and consequently, made a 1/2″ reduction along the front pant leg for a more streamlined pattern piece. The curve of the front crotch seam was also reduced slightly (see “Note” below). I coloured the difference in blue highlighter for reference. (Because blue highlighter is such a silly idea. Who can read through that darkness?!) Unfold your pattern piece.
NOTE: The areas that need to make a 90 degree angle are at the bottom of the pant leg and at the intersection point at the crotch seam. (This is why I had to cut into the curve of the crotch seam at the front because I lost that 90 degree angle when I cut away that 1″ from the crotch length.)
4. Add your seam allowance all around – about 1″ for hem allowance and 1/2″ for all the other edges. You can do that before cutting out your pattern piece, or you can add the seam allowances afterward when you’re transferring the pattern piece onto the fabric. Whichever way you choose, you may now cut out your single pattern piece.
5. Lay it onto the wrong side of your fabric of choice. (It’s rather cold here, so I’m going with a cotton flannel. For reference, I’m 5’1″, so I only need roughly 1.70 metres of fabric to make mine.) Make sure that the straight grain (use the existing fold line of the pattern as a guide) of the pattern piece is parallel to the selvedge (edge) of the fabric. Cut out one piece, flip the pattern over, and cut out the other. You’ll need pieces that are mirror images of each other.
6. For some neat seams, it’s handy if you have a serger/ overlock machine to finish the edges of the seam. Alternatively, you can use the zigzag stitch on your sewing machine, or cut the pieces out with pinking shears. You only need to neaten the edges at the inseam and crotch seam (the longer sides of the pieces).
7. Take each pant leg and sew the inseam in accordance to the seam allowance you incorporated. You should have two tubes. Press the seam allowance open or to one side – whichever you prefer.
8. Turn one of the tubes right-side-out and insert into the other tube. The right sides of each tube should be facing each other. Match the crotch seam and sew together in accordance to the seam allowance allotted. Press seam allowances open or to one side – whichever you prefer.
9. Make the casing by marking the seam allowance, and mark the fold line at the waist onto the right side of your pants. You can do this via tailor’s chalk or use a basting stitch (ex. the longest stitch length on your machine). Turn in the seam allowance, and then fold over the waist line. Sew close to the bottom edge of the casing, making sure to leave a 2″ opening somewhere (ex. at centre back) to later thread in the elastic. Topstitch all around 1/8″ in from the top of the casing.
10. The length of your elastic depends on how much it stretches without squeezing the life out of you. A good estimate is about 2-3″ from your natural waist circumference. Wrap the elastic around comfortably around your waist and make the reductions that you feel comfortable with. Add 1″ for overlap.
11. Thread the elastic through the casing. These handy threading devices (also doubles as a tube turner) can be found at your local sewing shop. A safety pin works, but it requires more patience. When you’ve got both ends of the elastic poking through the opening, overlap them by 1/2″ and sew them together. The most secure way to go about this is to sew a box shape with an X running through that box shape. Sew the opening of the casing closed.
12. Lastly is to finish the hem. Turn in half the hem allowance, and then turn it in again. Sew closed.
At this rate, I may have to have a closet designated just for pyjama pants because they’re so simple to make. It only looks like a lot of work because I am trying to be as thorough with the instructions as I can. Any constructive feedback, to improve future tutorials, is much appreciated.
For a cozy bottom-half, I hope this gives you an idea on how to fulfill that. The basic design also allows for you to customize it in other ways such as adding patch pockets in the back. You can also keep the out-seam by cutting the pattern piece in half at the fold line and then adding your seam allowance. This is awesome for when you want to add inseam pockets. And as always, I would love to see your results!