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Thursday, October 13, 2011

DIY: Basic Boy PANTS

On our way to Rosemary Beach this summer, I convinced Jim to give me a few minutes at the Smock Shoppe in Dothan, AL, and came out with yardage in three adorable boys' fabrics. And no real plan to use them.  I try to avoid doing that, but in this instance it seemed like I would never see the fabric again, and cute fabric for boys--patterns that are fun but not too funky, masculine but not too stiff--are SO hard to find. So I bought it, and now, three months later, I've finally done something with one of them: I made Little Brother a trike-themed pair of basic boy pants.

Pants seem intimidating for people new to sewing because of the inseam and the curves, but the truth is that they are incredibly easy to make--especially when you have a pattern that you like and trust to provide you with good results. They are constructed exactly the same way as shorts (not surprising), which means that you could actually make them quite easily by just adapting the basic boy shorts pattern and tutorial, but instead I thought that I would show you how to make a pattern for basic boy pants all by yourself. This way, you pick the style, the size, and the fit--and YOU get the glory for being both seamstress and designer. Don't be worried--it's really fun.

This particular version of basic boy pants has an elastic waist and contrasting pockets attached in the side seams. You could, of course, attach cargo pockets to the front instead, or go pocket-less...but what little boy doesn't love a place to store his treasures? Little Brother likes to carry his fave-train-of-the-day in his.

Now, the pants I made are on the casual side, but you could also make them in corduroy or a cheerful, Christmas-y plaid (Whipstitch has some gorgeous ones right now) to wear with a sweater around the holidays. Or you could use some fabric that your children will love and you would rather NOT see outside of the house (like the official Star Wars fabric in fleece...eek) and use this method to make pajamas. The possibilities are endless--and I'd love to see what you come up with! Click "read more"  to see all the details. (And don't forget to share your creations via the Growing Home Flickr pool!) 

  • Pair of well-fitting boy pants in your size of choice (I chose cords because of the slim fit and straight leg). 
  • Tracing paper, freezer paper, or (my fave, although not necessary at all for this project) swedish tracing paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil 
  • Approximately 3/4 yard of fabric; amount will change based on the size of your pattern. [Late breaking addition: the trike fabric is from Fabric Finders, available here.]
  • 1/4 yard of contrasting fabric for pockets, if desired 
  • Elastic (I used about 1/2 yard of 1.5 inch wide elastic)
  • Basic sewing supplies
1.  Fold your existing pants in half along the center seam in the back and pull the crotch out towards the back such that your pants are laying as flat as possible.

Using your pencil (not a Sharpie!), trace the pants along the hem, side seam, and back center seam.  In the top section, where your pants begin to taper in toward the waist, keep your lines straight. 

Now, take your pants away and extend your lines up 2 inches at the top of the pants and at the bottom to allow for an elastic waist casing and a hem (I like to use a large hem so that the pants can be lengthened later).  At the sides, inseam, and center seam, use a ruler to create a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Now, fold your pants the opposite direction, along the front center seam, and repeat this process.

Use a second piece of tracing paper to create a single pocket pattern (mine was about 5 inches by 5 inches). And voila! You have a custom pants pattern.

2.  Fold your fabric in half and use your pattern to cut two front pieces, two back pieces, and four pockets.

3. Sew the center seams. Line up like pieces with right sides facing (meaning the front pieces are together and the backs are together) and pin along the center seams. The center seams are the ones that form a U shape at the top of the picture below.

Now, sew along the center seams with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

You should end up with two pieces that look like this.

4. Pin the front and back pieces together at the inseam, beginning at the crotch and working toward the ends of the legs in either direction.

Now sew the entire inseam with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, beginning at one ankle and ending at the other.

5. Attach the pockets.  Pin two pocket pieces to the right side of the front of your pants and two pieces to the right side of the back of your pants, approximately 4.5 inches from the top of your fabric (I did five; it was a little two much).  Make very sure that when you stack the front and the back of the pants, the pockets line up exactly.

Sew each pocket piece onto the right side of your pants with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. 

Press the pockets to the outside of your pants.

6.  Now, create the side seams.  Pin your front and back pieces together with right sides facing and pockets turned outwards.

Sew the side seams with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  When you reach the pockets, turn the corner and continue to sew around the entire outside of each rectangle.

7. Make the elastic casing. Turn the top of your pants toward the wrong side of fabric, making a two inch fold.  Now turn the raw edge of pants under 1/4 inch and pin down (you can reverse the order of those folds if you like--this is just what seemed easier to me in the moment).

Sew the casing down as close to the fold as possible, leaving a gap of about 1.5 inches around the center seam in the back of your pants.

Using a safety pin, guide your elastic into the gap that you left when stitching the casing, around the waist of the pants, and back out of the gap. Make sure that the elastic does not fold or twist inside the casing. Now, safety pin the two ends together at the point that you guess is correct, then try the pants on your child to make sure.

Make any adjustments necessary, then sew the ends of the elastic together with your sewing machine (I usually stitch it back and forth a few times to make sure the seam is tough).

Cut the elastic beyond the seam, tuck the sewn portion into the casing, and sew shut.

8. Finally, hem your pants. First, measure your near-finished pants against the pre-existing ones and pin at your desired length.

Now, finish the raw edges at your pants' hem (I used a serging stitch, but you could also use a zig zag stitch), then sew a two inch hem. You could also turn the raw edge under 1/2 inch and press it, then turn it again to your desired hem length to create a double turned hem. Either way, this is your last step. Hooray for new pants and proud mamas!


  1. Thanks for this! I was just thinking last night about how to add side pockets to pants for my daughter; it's much easier when you've figured it all out for me!

  2. This is great! I've been wanting to make pants for my son but didn't know how. Thanks for the tutorial!


  3. Can't wait to try this! Thanks!

  4. This is awesome!! I'm going to make these for my son!! =)

  5. What's so awesome about this is you can make a pair that matches your little one's. :) Thanks for sharing this. :)

  6. I have some of my husbands old slacks that I have been wanting to turn into pants for my 2 year old. I'm excited to try this tutorial. Thank you!

  7. Great tutorial, thanks for sharing!

  8. for the elastic - button hole elastic is the world's greatest. It means the waist can be adjusted as the kids grow. I use it on my twin granddaughter's skirts and pj pants and it is great. You use it like any other elastic only at the end instead of finishing both ends - you only finish one end and have a button on the other. I do put a seam at the centre back of each item - this stops the elastic from coming all the way out when the button end gets undone and the child sees how far the elastic will stretch.

  9. This is amazing and so helpful for a sewing newbie like me! Thank you!!

  10. This is amazing and so helpful for a sewing newbie like me! Thank you!!

  11. I had to make pants for my son's Halloween costume and these were great instructions! Because they were just a costume, I could fudge a bit, but they turned out well. Thanks for writing this up.

  12. Great tutorial! I've been putting cute appliques on T-shirts, but had no pants to coordinate them with! Now I can make pants to match the appliques!! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

  13. Thank you very much, they are very clear instructions, even an unexperienced like me managed to success!!! Any Idea for the top of a boy's pijiama with buttons?

  14. Just made them but shorts and they are great! Thanks for such a clear tutorial!

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  16. Thank you so glad I found your blog. I was about to start on the crib skirt and bumpers for my baby's bed and was just going to wing it until I found your tutorial...

  17. These are awesome! It's so tricky to come by boys' patterns online. We love it!


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