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Father's Day: Cargo Pocket PJ Pants

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This is our favorite fast and easy way to make any size of comfy pajama pants. Originally designed by our sponsor, Janome America (thanks, creative Alison!), we adapted it for this past winter's Noel Home project series, incorporating jazzy bottom cuffs so we could mix and match fabrics to make a cute pair of pants for everyone in the family. Now for Father's Day, we're kickin' it up a notch again by narrowing the cuff and adding a waistband in matching accent fabric. We top it off with a large pocket along the side of one pant leg for a cargo pant look.

Our thanks to our project sponsor Free Spirit Fabrics for providing the Ty Pennington fabrics (you know him from TV's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) for all our Father's Day projects. Ty's new Impressions Collection for Free Spirit Fabrics has been very popular and includes regular cotton, cotton sateen, fleece and cotton laminate in a beautiful range of bold designs. We found it available online at CityCraft Online, Fat Quarter Shop, and Fabric.com.

Because jammie pants are laundered often, we recommend finishing the raw edges of the seam allowances. If you are new to this we have some finishing recommendations in an earlier tutorial. It is best to finish raw edges PRIOR to construction unless you are using a serger, which was our choice.

Check out our Noel Home PJ Pants project – cute looks for the whole family.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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Supplies are for ONE pair of average adult men's lounge pants

  • 2½ yards of 44-45" or wider cotton fabric for the main pant; we used Moorish in Charcoal from the Impressions Collection by Ty Pennington for Free Spirit Fabric
  • 1 yard 44-45" wide fabric for the top drawstring channel tie and the contrasting cuffs; we used Wave in Spice from the Impressions Collection by Ty Pennington for Free Spirit Fabrics
  • 2 yards of soft cotton cording; we used ½" simple white cord
  • All purpose thread in colors to match fabrics: we used Coats & Clark Dual Duty XP #8950 Chocolate
  • Wrapping paper, old newspaper, or other large paper for pattern
  • Safety pin
  • A pair of old pajama pants that fit comfortably
  • See-through ruler
  • Long ruler or yardstick
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Locate a pair of pajama pants that currently fit Dad. A loose-fitting, comfy pair is best.
  2. Fold the pants in half, so the crotch seam is fully extended and the pants are as flat as possible. Press if necessary.
  3. Unroll a length of wrapping paper, butcher paper or other large paper on the floor. You need a piece bigger than your folded pants.
  4. Place the pants on the paper and trace around the entire perimeter.
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Adapting the traced pattern to accommodate the waistband and cuffs

  1. Our cuffs finish at 3½" and the waistband drawstring channel finishes at 2½".
  2. Draw a line parallel to the bottom of the pant leg, at the same depth as the finished cuff. In our sample, that meant we draw a line 3½" UP from the bottom edge of the original traced pattern.
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  3. Cut off the pant pattern along this new line.
  4. Place a new piece of paper over your existing pattern and trace the bottom of the pant. Carefully trace, drawing a dashed line at the very bottom, and tracing up both sides by the depth of the cuff (3½" in our sample). The dashed line will be the folded bottom of the cuff.
  5. Remove the new paper from the existing pattern. Draw a line parallel to the dashed line, at the same depth as the finished cuff. In our sample, that meant we drew a new line 3½" from the dashed line.
    NOTE: Depending on your original jammie pant shape, the sides of the leg may taper in a little. In that case, erase your original traced side lines and connect the two parallel lines with straight lines. This will make the bottom of the pant a nice, straight cut.
  6. Cut out the rectangle you've just drawn.
  7. Place this rectangle on a new piece of blank paper. Trace it, then flip it over and trace the opposite side. The middle of this new, double-in-size rectangle should still be indicated with a dashed line. Again, this dashed line is the bottom of the cuff and will be helpful for placement when fussy cutting the fabric.
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  8. Add a ½" seam allowance on the side, at the top and bottom.
    NOTE: We suggest writing on your pattern where you will 'cut on the fold,' and which sides are the outside of the pant leg, the top and the bottom. This may not be important if you are using a solid fabric or a very randomly patterned fabric, but we wanted to be careful with our "wave" pattern.
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  9. Cut out the final cuff pattern piece. Our finished pattern was an 8" x 11¼" rectangle to be cut on the fold.
  10. Repeat these same steps to create your waistband piece, but tracing and measuring from the top of your pant leg pattern. As mentioned above, our finished waistband width is 2½". The top of our drawn pattern measured 9½" in width. This resulted in a waistband pattern that was a 6" x 10" rectangle to be cut on the fold.
  11. Remember your original pant leg pattern. Go get it again, and using your long ruler, or yardstick make a second line ½" from the traced line on the curved side of the pants. This second line is where you'll CUT your fabric, and accounts for the seam allowance you will need. You do NOT create a second line along the long straight edge of the pants; that is the fold, nor do you change the top or bottom cut lines that you already figured out above.

Cut out the fabric pieces using your final patterns

  1. Fold your main pant fabric (Moorish in Charcoal in our sample) in half lengthwise. You'll have a long, narrow folded piece. Fold this piece in half again to give you the four layers you need to cut your two pant leg pieces at one time.
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  2. Place the straight side of the pant leg pattern along the folds of the fabric and pin in place.
  3. Cut around the pattern piece.
  4. Use your waistband pattern and cuff pattern to cut two waistband pieces and two cuffs from the accent fabric (Wave in Spice in our sample). We fussy cut our fabric so the 'waves' would be vertical.
  5. From the main pant fabric, cut one 17" x 8" rectangle for the pocket.
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    NOTE: We did carefully cut to make sure the pattern on the pocket would be running in the same direction as the pattern on the pant leg, however, we did not fussy cut for an exact pattern match. If you would like your pocket to exactly match, check out our Thanksgiving Apron tutorials, both of which have wonderful step by step instructions on how to fussy cut a matching pocket.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Make the side pocket

  1. Find the 17" x 8" pocket rectangle. Fold in half (8½" x 8") and pin. The folded edge will become the top of your pocket; be aware of this if you are using a directional print.
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  2. Using ½" seam allowance, stitch the three raw-edged sides of the pocket, pivoting at the corners and leaving a 2" opening along the bottom for turning.
  3. Press the seams and trim the corners at a diagonal.
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  4. Turn right side out, poking out the corners with a blunt tool, like a chop stick or knitting needle, to make them nice and square. Turn in the raw edges of the opening along the bottom so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  5. Across the top of the pocket, add a line of topstitching 1¼" from the fold. We also stitched a Sew4Home label along the top edge.
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  6. We chose to put our pocket on what would be the right pant leg, because our dad was right-handed.
  7. Hold the pants up to yourself and extend your hand straight down to guesstimate pocket placement, bearing in mind Dad's arm is likely longer than yours.
  8. Fold the pocket in half and finger press a crease down the center.
  9. Using your 'guesstimate' placement, position the pocket on the pant leg, matching the center pocket crease with the side leg crease. Pin in place. For reference, the top of our pocket was approximately 14" from the top raw edge of the pant.
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  10. Edgestitch the pocket to the pant leg along both sides and across the bottom. This will secure the pocket and close the opening.

Attach the cuffs and sew the crotch seam

  1. Press one cuff piece in half lengthwise. Then, press under ½" all along one long raw edge (if you are using a directional print, this ½" should be pressed under on the bottom edge... it will be folded under to the inside).
  2. Unfold the cuff and align the raw edge of the cuff with the raw edge of the bottom of the pant leg. Pin in place.
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  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the cuff to the pant leg.
  4. Press the seam towards the cuff.
  5. Repeat to attach the remaining cuff to the remaining pant leg.
  6. Fold each pant leg piece in half (fold is along the long straight edge) right sides together. Starting at the bottom, or cuff of the pants, pin along the inside, curved edge, ending at the outermost point of the crotch.
  7. Using ½" seam allowance, sew from the cuff to the crotch.
  8. Press the seam open.
  9. Repeat with the second leg.
  10. With the pant leg inside out, fold the cuff along its center crease, bringing the folded edge to the inside. When in place, the folded edge of the cuff will cover the pant leg/cuff seam. Pin in place.
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  11. To finish cuff, turn the pant leg right side out and topstitch approximately ¼" from the seam within the cuff. This secures the cuff.
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  12. Edgestitch around the bottom of the cuff as an accent.
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  13. Repeat for remaining pant leg.

Final pant seam

  1. At this point, you have two leg sections. Now you need to stitch them together. The best way to do this is to turn one of the leg pieces right side out and leave the other wrong side out. Place the leg piece with the fabric right side out inside the wrong side out leg. This means the two pieces are now right sides together. Match up the seams you just sewed as well as all the raw edges of the crotch line. Pin together.
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  2. Stitch the two pieces together, following the 'U'  shape, removing pins as you go.
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Create the drawstring casing with buttonholes

  1. Find your two waistband pieces. Pin them right sides together along both short ends. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance, to create a loop. Press seams open.
  2. Fold the waistband loop in half, wrong sides together. Press to set a middle crease line.
  3. Press under ½" all along one long raw edge (similar to the cuffs, if you are using a directional print, this ½" should be pressed under on the top edge... it will be folded over to the inside).
  4. Unfold the waistband loop and slip it over the top of the pants so the fabrics are right sides together and the folded edge of the waistband is facing down towards the pant legs. Align the raw edge of the waistband with the raw edge of the top of the pants. Pin in place.
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the waistband in place. As you can probably tell, these steps as the same as what you just did to stitch the cuffs to the pant legs.
  6. Press the seam towards the waistband. Press the waistband up and away from the pants.
  7. You will now use the buttonhole function of your machine to create two buttonholes for the drawstring cord. Refer to your machine's manual for exact instructions on using your machine's buttonholing function. You may have a one step automatic buttonhole, or you may have a four step buttonhole. Either way, you can use a ½" button to create a perfectly sized buttonhole for this particular project. If you are new to buttonholes, check out our tutorial: How To Make A Buttonhole.
  8. Find the center seam on the front of the pants.
  9. Measure ¼" from either side of the center seam. Measure 7/8" down from the waistband's center fold crease. Make a mark on either side of the center seam where these two measurements intersect. These will be the top points of your two vertical buttonholes.
  10. Measure ¾" down from each of these marks. These will be the bottom points of your vertical buttonholes. Look at your marks. Your buttonholes should be centered within what will be the top drawstring casing.
  11. Stitch both buttonholes and cut open. Because this is a project that may be heavily laundered, we used Dritz Fray Check around the buttonholes before cutting them open.
    NOTE: You could certainly make the buttonholes in your waistband piece before you sew it on to the pants. I felt it was easier to do the steps as I describe them because I could be positive my center seams were perfectly aligned and the  buttonholes looked good in relation to the waistband and the pants.
  12. With the buttonholes finished, re-fold the waistband along its center crease, bringing the folded edge around to the inside. As with the cuffs, when in place, the folded edge of the waistband will cover the seam. Pin in place.
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  13. Again as you did with the cuffs, finish the waistband by topstitching approximately ¼" from the seam within the waistband. This secures the waistband. Then edgestitch around the top of the waistband as an accent.
  14. Place a safety pin through one end of the drawstring cord. Push the safety pin through one buttonhole, and use it to work the drawstring cord through the pants until the safety pin emerges from the other buttonhole. Make a knot in both ends of the cording.
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Project Concept and Preliminary Instructions: Alison Newman, Janome America
Fabric Combination and Cuff/ Waistband Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild


Comments (9)

MaraJayne said:
MaraJayne's picture

I am a beginner sewer.  So far all I've made on my own are curtains, pillows and a bed for the dog.  I got some great fabric for my boyfriends favorite hockey team and really want to make these pants.  Wish me luck!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ MaraJayne - Best of luck - I know you'll do great. The secret is to steal a pair of his favorite sweats from which to make the pattern. 

Charlie said:
Charlie's picture

These are awesome! The only problem was that the croch poked out a bit but we fixed that. Other than that, awesome!

AprilG said:
 AprilG's picture

This is the perfect tutorial!  The directions are clear and the illustrations make sense along with the instructions.  Thanks again for pinning this one! 

Tracy Perkins said:
Tracy Perkins's picture
Love these, great project for my hubby and I really liked the fabric too - gonna have to make a trip to City Craft. I'm so glad I live close and that I have great reasons to go, thanks S4H.
Liz Johnson, Editor, Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson, Editor, Sew4Home's picture
@SheRog - I tested the link again on our end and everything is working fine. We are mostly MAC here in the studio, but did test the PDF functionality in both IE 9 and IE 8. It doesn't support versions older than that, but those latest versions handled the PDF download just fine.
SheRog said:
SheRog's picture
I can't print the PDF for this - it errs out in Explorer. I've got an updated adobe, so you can check the link on your end? I'm anxious to save this one for future use! Thank you!
Allison E. (allycat79225) said:
Allison E. (allycat79225)'s picture
Perfect! Thank you for posting this. Just what I needed. smilies/smiley.gif
Carla V. said:
Carla V.'s picture
Oh these look so comfy! Maybe I'll make a matching pair for my hubby and me! smilies/grin.gif