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Pyjamas, beginner skills

May 25, 2013

Pyjama pants are often suggested as a beginner sewing project.
And continuing with the theme of comfortable and classy loungewear – what about high quality designer versions?

Of course there are couture pj pants available from luxury lingerie companies – enjoy being stroked by silk charmeuse and lace.
A skilled hobby sewer could make those. But definitely not fabrics for easy sewing.
How about simpler than that !

Here are some comments on pyjama patterns and sew-alongs for beginners.
And on using the same skills to make simple elastic waist pants.
(I haven’t included patterns for knits, or with very slim legs.)
And on the further skills needed to add a simple top.

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Pyjama pants, beginner skills

Hmm, for pj pants the easiest possible garment sewing skills needed include :

take body measurements
choose size of pattern
identify fabric and notions requirements
prepare fabric
understand pattern symbols
lay out and cut pattern
sew straight and curved lines
sew leg seams
arrange legs together so can sew crotch seam
finish seams
press seams
press to shape casings and hems
pin/ tape/ baste seams, casing and hems to hold in place while sewing
sew casing (cut-on casing is easiest, then a separate casing)
thread elastic through casing
join ends of elastic
close casing
or make eyelets, make and thread drawstring
machine sew hems

No wonder some people find it daunting to learn to sew, and need to work up to all that slowly. In 4-H sewing classes, pj pants are what children make only after a year of sewing small projects which gradually introduce all these skills. I think it’s a bit pressurised to expect all adults to be comfortable with jumping into such a project as their first item.

But anyway that’s a separate topic I dealt with in my post on learning help for complete beginners.
Which includes some places you can look to for help with learning all those skills.

And once you can do all these things, a huge range of other sewing projects open up and become possible 😀

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PJ pant sew-alongs

These are sew-alongs with specific instructions which give more information than in the pattern.
(There are also several ‘chat and encouragement’ style pj sew-alongs, but I haven’t included them.)

These sew-alongs use specific patterns, but the pj pant style is so general any similar pattern would do.
(Making the tops requires another range of sewing skills, comments later.)

Free written sew-along with photos

from Did you make that.
She used Simplicity 2721, now oop and replaced by Simplicity 2116.


She also links to instructions for drafting your own pattern, but I find the instructions incomprehensible. Instructions in Sew What ! Fleece are much better.

A bit difficult to find Did You Sew That’s sequence of sew-along posts, so here are links.
Intro and pattern
Cutting out
Sewing inside leg seam
Sewing legs together
Elastic waistband
Final versions

There’s another pyjama pants tutorial using slightly more skills (side seams, buttonholes), from Stitch and Boots.
It uses Simplicity 5314, a pattern for larger sizes.

On-line video demo

Free detailed sew-along.

Free short video on elastic-waist pants from Simplicity patterns.
see right side menu with this for many more video tutorials.

Craftsy video class on making pyjama pants, pattern included (not free).

from the Sewing Guru (not free).
He uses Simplicity 3971, and adds fly opening for men.



Pajama Party from Hip-Line Media,
uses Butterick 6837
Similar style to above, pattern includes robe.

This DVD has good sewing demos, though they don’t mention they serge the seam finishes. And the intro on what you need to know before you start sewing is poor, just talking heads.

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Designer pj patterns

I don’t know of any designer patterns for pyjama pants, unless you count Cindy Taylor Oates’ booklets for fun styles. Start with ones without the added cuff.

Cindy Taylor Oates Sew Easy Pajama pants


Pajama Party
Multi-fabric styles, includes camp shirt pj top.

P.S. Toni-Maree has pointed out the new Sewaholic loungewear pants pattern.
Here are Tasia’s comments on her pattern.
And on not using contrast fabric.
She isn’t doing her own sew-along, and refers to the Did You Make That one, which I mentioned before. Karen of DidYouMakeThat has added special instructions for :
Preparation, including grading this pattern if you’re not pear shaped.
Making the belt.
Piping and side seams
Inside leg seams
Sewing the crotch seam
False fly and buttonholes
Attaching the waistband
Waistband, hems, and done
Many extra processes, so a pattern for advanced beginners.

Speedy elastic waist pant patterns

Once you’ve made a pair of pj pants, what more can you do that makes good use of the same skills ?
Celebrate what you can do before moving on 😀

Of course, make some elastic waist pants – just needs a slight change of fabric, and perhaps less looseness (ease) to the pattern.

I have the sort of body shape (indented waist and prominent high hips) which doesn’t look good in elastic waist pants. But there’s often no need to reveal the waist area, especially in winter. Simply keep your waist covered with your top or layer, and no one will know your pants add lumpy bulk around the waist 😀

There are many many plain elastic waist pants in suit/ co-ordinate/ sportswear patterns from the major pattern companies, with tops requiring various levels of skill. I’ve just picked speed patterns.
These patterns all claim to be sewable in 1 hour – means they’re simple, but don’t expect a beginner to sew that fast !
Butterick 5153 – one-seam pants, for women, men, children, various lengths.
McCall’s 6568 – 3 lengths, 2 leg widths.
McCall’s 5889 – oop slouch pants with wide hips, tapered legs.

If you’re looking for a slimmer-leg pattern try McCall’s 6843 (not 1-hour).

Designer simple elastic waist pants

There may not be many designer pj pant patterns, but there are several for elastic waist pants. Here are a couple of examples.

Sewing Workshop Ikina pant


Sewing Workshop Valencia pant


(Jackets not for beginners.)
Her other pant patterns have more style elements. I agree with her that if you’re wearing one of those over-sized jackets, adding eye-attracting detail to the pants would both look a bit over the top and drag the eye down to look fattening.

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Add a simple top

Move on to consider yourself an ‘advanced beginner’ 😀

This pattern has more of a beginner top : Sewing Workshop Hudson pant.
For the simplest pant sewing, leave out the ankle shaping darts.


Adding a simple top may involve another set of skills :

add pattern markings to fabric
– interfacing
– stay-stitching
– clip, notch, grade curved seams
– under-stitching
– top-stitching.
make bias binding
– cut bias strips
– join bias strips
– press binding folds into shape.
bias bind an edge
– facing
– over edge
sew together different shape curves
add simple sleeve

Making a camp-shirt style pyjama top adds further skills:

buttons and buttonholes
patch pockets.

The Sewing Guru and Hip-Line Media pyjama video sew-alongs mentioned before show you how.

Making a simple top from knit instead of woven fabric involves yet another skill set, such as :

sew stretch seams using the zig-zag stitch.
sew stretch hems using a double needle.
attach rib bands to other knits.
use a serger/ overlocker.

Some sources of guidance for learning these skills in my post on help for advanced beginners.
And here’s my post listing sewalongs for knit tops.

For simple patterns for tops and layers, which claim to have easy beginner instructions, look at :
Kwik Sew Kwik Start
Simplicity It’s so easy

There are patterns for knit top/ camp shirt/ elastic waist skirt and pants, plus many simple variations, in Easy Sewing the Kwik Sew Way by Kerstin Martensson.

Some ‘beginner’ sewing classes start with a fitted-waist skirt with darts, zip, waistband. For a timid learner like me, those are a long way along the sequence of skills development !

Here’s a pdf of the beginner skills I’ve mentioned :

Learn at the speed which is right for you to develop confidence at every step.
You’re getting to ‘intermediate’ level when you can sew many types of seam, seam finish, collar, sleeve, pocket, buttonhole, zip, placket, lining, embellishment. . .
It’s amazing what we can learn to do 😀

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Do you enjoy making and wearing elastic waist pants ?
Pyjama sewing – doesn’t matter if you make mistakes 😀

How about upping your skills a little further by making slightly more interesting designer elastic-waist pants with added style details ? (pockets, vertical decorative seams, shaped legs) Another post to come ! (now here)

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Patterns and links available May 2013

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