Do you get fed up of buying pyjama bottoms and once they have gone and need to be retired you can no longer find that style you like? This happens to me, I am fussy when it comes to sleepwear and like to have room in my clothes but not so much they are wrapped around me twice by morning. It came to a point where Myself and Cora had thrown out some of our old pyjamas and needed to replace them. We didn’t think this could be such a task but it was and so we carried on for a couple of weeks wearing the ones we had and just rushing to wash them so the next set could be washed and so on. It was getting silly, so while Cora was away in London I thought what a better idea for a Christmas present then new pyjama bottoms. I didn’t make the top, I cheated there and bought it from Primark as I didn’t have the fabric or the time.
So to start I found the one pair of Pyjama bottoms we both love the most and used them as a template. This is great as they are already guaranteed they are going to fit and she was going to like them. The tricky part was getting the fabric, I really wanted to find some toy story print fabric to use but found it was all too expensive. I scanned through my chest and found my Asda London print bedding, I found this bedding probably just under a year ago on a usual food shop. We always like to check the discounts and the clearance sections for retail arbitrage or for gifts. We found that bedding come down from £15 to £3 and I had to have it, it was bound to come in useful at some point and it did.
Starting From Scratch
If your bottoms are no longer of use and aren’t worth saving then you simply need to unpick the seams with your unpicker/seam ripper from both sides of the leg. This will leave you with the 2 front panels and the 2 back panels, remember to remove the elastic in the waistband and iron the pieces before using them as a template. You then only need 1 of the front panel and 1 of the back. Before completely taking the bottoms apart mark on the front panel with something that stands out to you, such as a pin or a mark with chalk so you can distinguish between the 2 panels. Once they are ironed they are ready to go.
Keeping The Originals
If you are using a pair of bottoms that are still useful to you and are simply just making an extra pair then this is where you need to start. Pull out and iron the original pyjama bottoms, these are going to be my template instead of using a paper pattern I am using these. Start by pinning together the legs, do this by folding them so the front of the bottoms were facing outwards- see image below. This will give you the front panels of your trousers. The front and back usually do differ on shape and pattern as you have to allow for the seat on your bottom when you sit down and move around.
Making the Pattern
Next thing to do is lay down the fabric folded in half in length ways- don’t do as I did, if you are using patterned fabric make sure you check that all 4 panels are matching IE check that your pattern is all going the same way. I forgot about the part but it didn’t matter too much as it made them look more funky.
Lay down the original pyjama bottoms onto the fabric and then move roughly pinned where the outline would be -if you have take the bottoms apart you can simply lay down the back panel on and pin into place. Then move the pattern to fit on the fabric like a jigsaw piece- See image below. I did this so I knew I could fit both sides on the fabric, make sure you move these to be as closely fitted onto the fabric to ensure no waste. Also, check if you pyjama bottoms are elasticated they will not show the true width/length of the waist and so you will need to either add on inches to fit your desired waist/hip measurement or snip the elastic.
Preparing to Sew
Once you have laid down your first pattern piece and made the amendments to the waist you then need to pin it into place and mark a 1-inch seam allowance around the edge. Make sure you draw a solid line around your pattern piece so you know where to match your pieces, this will also allow you to know where your seam allowance is. In terms of dressmaking they usually only use 1cm but in theatre costume, they use 1 inch and I prefer 1 inch as you have more room to make mistakes and correction allowance whereas 1cm doesn’t leave much. If you prefer to use less then that’s fine just make sure it is equal all around your pattern. You can do this by using pins, tailors chalk or a chalk pencil, use whichever is best for you. Then you want to do the same with the other side to create the back panel of the legs. Start by unpinning the original pair of bottoms and take the safety pins out that hold the legs together. Then you want to fold the bottoms with the front of the waistband in, so you create the back panel of your bottoms.
Once you have got both panels of your bottoms marked out, you can then cut them out. Once cut out you can move onto matching up the pieces and pin them into place. To start you want to sew together the small curve at the top of the panel, start with the front panels first (see image below). This created the seam down the front of your pyjama bottoms, join together by matching them exactly. Note that the pieces should match perfectly because they were cut at the same time from the same pattern. Once you have sewn the seam together press open with the iron. If you struggle to press the seam due to the curve, don’t worry too much or if you have a tailor’s ham use that. You will then need to cut into the seam allowance to relieve the pull on the curve. To do this simple snip up to the sewn line without cutting into it. Repeat this a few times to relieve the curve and will allow the fabric to hang better.
Next is to repeat that process with the back panels, do the same and press open the seams. If you have an overlocker, overlock the edges on the seam but if you don’t you can simply change your stitch on the sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch to do the same. Once you have your front and back panels ready you will then need to place the right sides together to join the inside seam. Start by matching up the crotch point and work down each side from there. Pin the panels into place and then you are ready to sew them together, once finished overlock the seams as you did before and press the seams open. Remember if you chose to use a 1-inch seam allowance you can trim down the seams when over-locking or if you aren’t quite confident you can leave them till then end when you can try out the fit. The last seam to do is the outside leg, simply match up the legs and sew together, this seam should be the easiest as it the straightest and doesn’t have any other seams to connect with. Repeat the stage of over-locking and pressing then you are ready to move on to make the waistband.
To make the waistband you need to measure the circumference of the bottoms, take your measurement and add 4 inches, this gives you an allowance of 2 inches for each end. Start by taking a straight edge of the fabric and cutting a piece that is the previous measurement of your waistband circumference plus 4 and makes it 4 inches deep. Once you have got your waistband cut out, transfer it to the ironing board to press. You then need to cut the same piece out of bond the web, this will help strengthen your waistband, if you don’t have this you can use a second layer of your fabric/cotton. Start by folding the waistband in half (lengthways) to find the middle point, once you have found your middle point mark it with a pin. This will make it easier to get an equal waistband, place the right side together and pin the waistband on, matching the centre point on your waistband to the centre back seam of the bottoms. Pin all the way around, and you should be left with a 1-2 inch crossover in the centre front, this needs to be left open as this is where you will thread through your elastic or your tape to tighten the waist. The next step is to press over 1 inch all around the waistband, this well then be folded over the raw edge of the trousers to create a band, this will then create a channel for your elastic to go through, you may have some access fabric having over simply cut this down to 1 inch then neaten off by folding the raw edge in on itself, do this for both sides but make them touch so you can slip stitch up that centre seam once your elastic is in. Once the fold has been done, pin into place and do a running stitch on your machine to catch the edge to sew it into place, don’t worry too much if they line isn’t a perfect straight as once the elastic goes in it will gather together the fabric and will be unnoticeable.
To finish off the waistband you need to thread through your elastic. Do this by measuring out how tight/ loose you would like your bottoms to be- if they are for yourself just simply pull the elastic gently around your waist and see how it feels if it feels too tight add more length and the opposite for feeling too loose. Once you have got your desired length attach a large safety pin to one end, then start to thread the safety pin through the channel, try to use the largest safety pin you can as it gives you a better grip and easier to pull through. Make sure to pin the other end to the fabric to ensure you don’t loose it. Once you have threaded through your waistband you want to sew the two loose ends together. Now you need to neaten off the fabric ends, to do this just simply slip stitch up the centre seam to hide the elastic and to neaten off the front.
The last thing to do on your trousers in the leg hems, this is very simple and straight forward. Turn the trousers inside out and press a hem up of roughly 2cm, if you need them to be shorter measure the length of your leg and then make the amendments to the trousers. once you have done the press, do the same again. You should have them rolled up the hem just approximately 4cm. Pin this in place and sew with a running stitch.
If you are attaching a band to the bottom, simply do a very loose running stitch twice around the hem of your trousers and pull together to create a gather. Pull the gather to fit your band circumference and pin facing right sides together. Sew into place and press to create a neat finish.