These are called paper bag PJs because you make the pattern with a paper bag. If you’re a grown up person making grown up PJs, you might want to use something larger like wrapping paper. I often use masking paper, which is super cheap in the paint section of your hardware store. Since these are for my 6 year old, I used a paper bag.
And, let me say, these are not intended for sleepwear according to the flannel Fancy Nancy print I used. Apparently, sleeping in your pajamas is a serious safety issue and they have to have a certain fit and flammability… wait, no, inflammability that my PJs do not have. Let’s call these “lounge” pants. Or “watch Blue’s Clues while your mom types up a tutorial” pants. And they are only called “pants” in the loosest definition of the word. These are pants-optional pants.
To start, use an old pair of pajama pants that are roughly the right size as your template.
Cut your bag open and lay the pants — folded in half — out on the bag. My daughter has outgrown these pajamas so I added some length at the bottom. You are going to want to leave about an inch at the bottom for the hem and 2 inches-ish at the top for the elastic casing.
Pull out the crotch. I loved typing that instruction by the way.
Trace around the entire pajama pants. Don’t trace right up against the fabric. You need to leave a seam allowance of 3/8″. Or 1/2″. Or 5/8″ It doesn’t really matter. Just pick one and stick with it through the whole project. I used a 3/8″ seam allowance so I trace roughly 3/8″ outside of the pants.
How rude! I did not lie. I just didn’t tell the whole truth. You need to stretch the elastic out to get an accurate waist measurement.
Cut out along your lines and you should end up with an oddly shaped paper bag.
A word on fabric choice. I usually pick fabric that can go either which way. If you notice both the Dora pants and the Fancy Nancy fabric I have below has the characters every which way. This is good. This is easy. Once I made a pair of pajama pants for my then 4 year old son. Nemo ended up swimming upside down on one leg because I didn’t take it into account. That isn’t to say you can’t make a pair with the pattern only going one way. You just have to pay attention and that’s not my strong suit.
My horrible and inconsistent use of Photoshop and blog formatting aside, you should end up with 2 pant legs that look like this:
Now, we get to sew! A sewing tutorial with sewing involved. Who knew?
I suggest pinning because fabric can slip easily. Some people are good at guiding the fabric through the machine, keeping unsewn edges together, talking on the phone, and knitting at the same time (all while Downton Abbey plays in the background), but I am not one of those people. I use pins to give myself one less thing to worry about while watching to see if Lady Mary will follow her heart and if Matthew will ever walk again. Let’s not forget the amnesiac claiming to be the next Lord Grantham!
Here’s a quick tip — and you’ll see the marks in any sewing tutorial I do so I might as well explain them now. When I first started sewing, I couldn’t remember which notch was what measurement for seam allowances. So I marked them with a sharpie.
Since a picture of me actually sewing tells you nothing, I’ll skip it and show you a picture of it actually sewn so you can see where to sew to and from. You’ll do this on both legs. I used purple thread for contrast for the sake of the tutorial.
I believe “horn of the crotch” is the technical term. Like I said, sew both legs like this.
Here’s where it gets tricky and we’ll see if my pictures and my words can explain the next step.
First, turn one of the legs right side out. Leave the other inside out.
So, do you get that? You take the pant leg that you had right side out. You put it inside the pant leg you had inside out. Fancy Nancy should be looking at herself, which is really what vain girls like to do anyway. Line up the crotch area and the rest should just follow.
Bring your pants back to the sewing machine. I like to do a double stitch on the crotch to reenforce it. Nothing ruins a good sleepover like a split in the pants.
Sew both the front and back together — pretty much everything you had lined up — and then turn your pants right side out and you should have something that looks like this:
All that’s left is to hem and make a casing for the elastic. Hemming is easy. Turn the bottom up a little, press (as in iron… really, it’s the only time I use my iron), turn it up a little more, press, and sew. The casing is a little trickier. So that I don’t bog down this tutorial — and to make the information easier to find — I’ve included a separate casing tutorial.
Because these were Fancy Nancy pants, I added a fancy ruffle at the bottom for my daughter. They were reclaimed from some curtains I didn’t like so they were already pleated and ready to be stitched on. And Eden gives them 2 thumbs up!
PS Do you notice the matching cami? You can read Daniél’s reverse applique tutorial to find one way to make a similar shirt!