moto tee

When I asked my son what kind of shirt he wanted, of course he said motorcycle. He loves motorcycles. Sometimes, his dad lets him ride on the back of his Harley, from the sidewalk to the garage. It’s only about 20 yards, don’t worry. So here we have the motorcycle shirt. Not too fancy, and a repurposed shirt from his grandma as usual. My husband came up with the tag “steel horse.” I didn’t execute it quite as well as I would have liked. I know it’s hard to tell that the second word is horse. I’m thinking my new fabric paints should help that problem in the future.

The other obsession of my son of late is quarters. If he finds or is given one, he holds onto it for days! When I say he holds on to it, I mean it is in his hand 24/7. He goes to sleep with it clasped in his fingers, and wakes up with it still there. That is quite a feat. We’ve convinced him to use his pockets for most of the day, but that means that he will only wear 2 of his shirts… the ones with pockets. His pant pockets are too tight.

Sooooo you guessed it. This one has an added pocket. I used my pocket tutorial and just added one for him into the side seam. He loves it.

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And there he is, posing in front of his “motorcycle.” My husband added the lawnmower wheels for his training wheels.

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Little devil. I love making things for him. He always says, “thank you mommy, for making this for me.”

You are welcome son!

alligator hoodie

I have been wanting to make myself a jacket for a long long long looooong time. I wear a jacket all year long whether it’s 100 degrees or 10 and my go to jacket is from AE 10 years ago. I’d say it’s time for a little update. I’ve just been so intimidated by the hood/separating zipper, that I haven’t wanted to even start. It isn’t the actual hood or zipper that I have a problem with, but the corner where they both meet. I didn’t know which order to attach them to make it all look good. You know, the spot in the picture below. DSC_3306

So when it turned September, I decided to make the little man a jacket as a trial before making my own. It was pretty simple to whip together if you don’t count the hood. I’m terrible at gauging hood sizes and I ended up having to add height to his before sewing it on. I like a good deep hood that really protects you from the rain or wind. His turned out great after tweaking it a bit.

I had also decided on a snake for the front design. I searched pictures and drew pictures and manipulated shapes on the computer for days before giving up and settling on the alligator. I’m pretty happy with it. It was also a pain though. I stenciled it on and then decided the color didn’t really match the hood AFTER I took the stencil off. So I spent at least a hour with a tiny paint brush, painting yellow between all the zig-zags to make it closer to the color of the hood. Thank goodness my new fabric paint had just come in the mail! I’m used to using good old Tulip paints from Walmart, but the Jacquard Textile Colors are soooooooo much better. Instead of paint about 6 coats to get my green to show up on such dark fabric, I only had to paint ONE. Aaaaaaaaaand… I got it for pretty much the same price as the cheap stuff. Same cost, less coats, BOOM. Can you tell I was really really happy about it?

Anyway, to make my hoodie pattern, I traced a long sleeve tee. Instead of cutting the front panel on a fold, I cut 2 separate pieces and added 3/4″ on both sides for the zipper. I then sewed everything together just as I would a tee and then attached the hood. When attaching the hood, I made sure to leave the zipper seam allowance out so that it could fold over the edge of the hood. I attached the zipper and then the bias tape to cover the hood seam. I wish I would have taken just a few pictures to show the order and how it fit together. Trying is the best way to learn though!

Here it is in all it’s glory! The cute model doesn’t hurt either.

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I couldn’t just choose one picture. He has more authentic smiles, but these will do fine. 🙂

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The only thing I would change would be the sleeves. They are a bit too tight, but not enough to make it unwearable. I’m so happy with how it turned out.

My own jacket to come soon!

 

 

DIY Lace Back Shirt

I have recently been through every single item in my closet. I tried everything on and either put it back or threw it in a box. I was going to take the box to the Deseret Industries but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I hate getting rid of good material. The problem is, I have so many ideas of what to do with all the clothes that I couldn’t possibly get to them all. I’m afraid I’m going to become quite the hoarder if this type of behavior continues.

In order to cut down on my fabric stash, I decided to finish at least one project that has been on my mind. It’s a lace one!

When I bought this lace from Joann Fabric, I didn’t quite know what I was going to do with it, but I knew it was going to be great. It is a pretty pattern, prettier than the generic stuff. It was quite expensive. $20 dollars a yard. I of course had to use a 50% off coupon and then I only got 2 yards of it. It has sequins sewn throughout to give it some sparkle. I just love it.

So here we go.

I started with a knit shirt that was much too tight. I drew a line across the back, making sure to measure the distance from the top all the way across so that it was straight. Then, I unpicked the side seams from the bottom all the way up through the sleeves to the line. If your shirt has some fabric excess then there is no need to unpick. Simply cut out out the seams. I needed every scrap of width so I unpicked… my very least favorite thing to do.

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I cut across the line and cut out the back of the shirt.

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I used the back cutout as a pattern for my new back.

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I folded it in half and placed it on my folded material adding about 3 inches. That of course adds 6 inches of width overall and to tell you the truth, I wish I would have added more. The shirt ended up being slightly fitted instead of having the flowy back I had imagined. Remember, the shirt I started with was pretty tight.

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A tip to remember is to double your seam allowance at the top so that your materials match up at the bottom. I had to think about that for a while to get it to make sense in my head, but trust me. If you don’t get it, do it anyway. It will work out better.

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You can see I ended up cutting out my back twice. I forgot to take into account that I wanted the bottom to be loner than the front so I wasted my awesome material and gave it another go. I also added a little more width as you can see.

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I hemmed the bottom and made a nice pleat at the top.

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You have to take in enough with your pleat so that your width matches your original cutout piece.

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Then, sew the piece right sides together to your shirt. Start with the top and then sew down both sides to the bottom. Make absolutely sure that you don’t stretch the material. You don’t want to end up with wavy seams.

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Ta da! Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

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I’ll admit it’s not as awe inspiring from the front in the pictures. It was really windy, and hard to get the shirt to lay flat. It was also sticking to the fence so I way in a hurry to get it down. It looks great on though. Here’s to one way to fix a shirt that is too tight… or just refashion something you don’t wear very often.

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I’ve decided that I’m not very great at detailed tutorials. Thus, I am rededicating my site to be more inspirational rather than tutorial. I’ll still tell you how I did things in general with a few how-to pictures, but I’d rather link to another tutorial that’s already done and done really well, for you benefit.

Now that that momentous piece of news is out of the way, on to what I did last week.

Sometimes living in a small town is hard. Like when you go to your local Walmart and Kmart and boutique clothing shops and still can’t find a baby swimming suit for your outing tomorrow! What!? They carried down to 12 months old, but no 6-9 mos. I was tempted to let sweet Claira just swim in a swim diaper, but then I remembered I had some extra spandex from the suit I made for my sister a few years back. Yay for saving your extra material! I try to keep my stash to a minimum, but somehow I kept the spandex that I didn’t even buy. Lucky me!

DSC_3069aMaking swimwear shouldn’t be daunting for anyone. If you can sew a zig-zag stitch, you can sew a swimming suit. I don’t know why they seem so intimidating. If you happen to have or want to invest in a double needle, they are perfect for swimming suits as well. I used one here. You can kind of see how there is a double row of stitching on the top of the binding and a zig-zag on the bottom. That’s what a double needle will do. They are pretty inexpensive and I recommend them for almost every project.

To start my suit I traced a baby onsie sans sleeves. I dropped the front and back neckline a couple of inches to give it a little more of a suit look. I also cut out a lining for it even though my spandex was quite stout and not very see through. I didn’t want those lovely dark blue swim diapers showing through and making the suit look green. I sewed my lining together and then my suit, placed the lining inside-out into the suit so the seams were all enclosed, sewed elastic into the leg openings and stitched on my binding. FYI I didn’t have any clear elastic so I just used the regular kind. I wouldn’t worry about it if you don’t care if the suit will last for years and years. I don’t think we go to the pool enough for the chlorine to ruin this elastic any time soon.

This is how I did the binding. She also has many many tips on how to sew a swimming suit.

DSC_3083aA tip on color blocking. I find that where possible, it’s easier to sew your colors together and then cut out your pattern as opposed to all that measuring and making sure your pieces fit together jut right without any shifting.

DSC_3084aMy favorite part of this suit is that it’s diaper accessible! Why don’t all baby swimming suits have this option? Who wants to take a wet suit off a baby every time you want to give them a dry diaper? Not me. Also, if you are going to be inserting baby snaps onto any piece of clothing, I recommend buying some sort of snap pliers. I tried to add these with a hammer and a board… it didn’t go so well.

DSC_3080aI love this suit! I’m so glad I had some extra material and a little extra time. Babies in swim diapers are cute, but babies in swimming suits are much cuter. I think I’ll work one up with ruffles next time.

 

applique flower baby outfit

Yay for another baby outfit!I thought that her new romper was my favorite, but…. I guess I just love them all. I have loved making clothes for my little man don’t get me wrong, but girl clothes are inherently more fun for me. There are so many more options. I also have a lot of material for girls since I’m fond of going through my closet and re-purposing whatever I don’t wear into baby clothes. That’s where the material for her top came from. The pants are another $3 large tee from Walmart! Hey, you get it where you can when you live in a small town.

I used the same pattern that I traced out for the black and white outfit. The only thing I did differently was add an applique instead of color blocking. I just drew out 3 not so perfect flowers in decreasing sizes and cut them out. I used this technique to sew on the bottom flower layer. Then I sewed a circle through the next 2 layers of flower right onto the shirt at the same time. I didn’t even go around the edges. I wanted the “petals” to flap a bit so I sewed the circle just inside them. I pinned lace in a ruffley circle on top of my flowers and sewed a circle through that as well. Then I hand stitched the center sheer fabric on to hide the middle and not show any stitches. I think it turned out great! I love the detail and the texture of it.

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You can see how perfect my flower is right? I think it adds character.

Baby swimming suit coming up next week! Because, of course, no one here sells baby swimwear and I needed one faster than shipping…

 

Black and White Flowers Baby Outfit

When I saw this black and white t-shirt at Walmart, I knew I wanted to make baby leggings out of it. Claira doesn’t have a lot of bottoms and black and white goes with everything right? So I started making the leggings and decided that she needed a top to go with them because as it turns out, black and white goes with NOTHING that we currently have. Lol! So I have kind of a tutorial of what I did. I hope it inspires you in your own sewing.

I start almost every project with a thrifted/cheap t-shirt. The first thing I always do is unpick the necks so I can use them later in my own collars.

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I’ve already traced my favorite baby leggings onto pattern paper so I have them for always. Although I did spend a whole day trying to find my pattern. When making leggings, you don’t usually want to have a side-seam. To make your pattern side-seam-less, place your front and back pattern pieces together with the straight sides touching. Overlap the seam allowance so you don’t have any seam allowance where the pieces meet. You can also see that I also line up my bottom hem with the shirt hem so I don’t have to hem the leggings at all. YAY!

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Now cut out your first leg. When you go to cut out your second leg BE SURE to flip your pattern over so you don’t end up with 2 of the same leg. Believe me, I did it the first time around and then only had enough material left to make them the old fashion way as seen below.

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I was pretty upset to say the least. Don’t make my mistake!

Sew the pieces together as per your usual pants sewing… place right sides together and sew both crotch arches. Then fold them so they look like pants and sew up one side of the inseam of the leg, and down the other. Fold over your waistband, sew with a stretch, zig-zag or other stretchy stitch and insert your elastic. Pants done. Bam! 20-30 min.

So for the top I traced one of my current baby tops for sizing onto pattern paper. I wanted to have a different colored yoke so I sewed my 2 colors together before cutting out my pattern. To determine how big to make my pieces I laid my pattern on the pink I was using for the bottom and drew a line where I wanted it to come.

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I cut it out and gathered it slightly in the middle.

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I laid the pink over the black and white to see where exactly I wanted it to be sewn on. Then I put them right sides together and sewed with a straight stitch.

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Then I top-stitched it to make the gathering lay flatter. It also makes it look more professional in general. Use a long stitch length and try hard not to stretch your fabric as you go along. 

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Now cut out your front and back. Sew one of the shoulders together using a zig-zag, stretch stitch or your serger. This is when I sew on the neck binding. I just use the previously cut out neckline of the original shirt and use a zig-zag stitch. I stretch it slightly as I go along so it curves with the neckline.

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Now sew your second shoulder together. I do it this way because that’s how I’ve seen it done on store-bought shirts. Now for the sleeves. I used the leftovers from the neck binding and bound the hems of the sleeves as well using the same technique as the collar. Zig-zag, stretching slightly… etc. For this shirt I also gathered the top of the sleeve before attaching.

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Sew on your sleeves and down your shirt sides and you have a lovely finished shirt. I opted to cut out some of the flowers in the pattern and sewed them on with tiny black beads in the middle. I have no idea how this is supposed to be done. I just used a needle and thread and square knotted it on the underside.

DSC_2955aI LOVE this outfit.

I know I’m not super detailed in my tutorials, but I assume you know the basics of sewing together pants and a shirt so I kind of gloss over those parts. This is more for inspiration that really detailed instruction. One more to come. I’m so excited for it too!

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly Baby Romper

My baby is growing up so fast. That look on her face just says, “hey mom… I’m not your tiny cuddle bug anymore.” She’s only seven months, and still pretty little, but time seriously flies.

Anyway, I was babysitting my friend’s baby  a few weeks ago, and couldn’t help falling in love with her little romper. It was so bright and summery. I loved that it was almost dress looking, but snapped in the middle which makes playing easier. I had this t-shirt that I bought at Walmart that was perfect for the project so I got to work!

I’ll admit that my first attempt was less than awesome. I was trying to make an easy one-piece pattern and… well it didn’t turn out so well. I ended up going back to Walmart and snagging the last shirt they had with the cute butterfly print and starting over.

I basically made a dress. I love the cute little flutter sleeves and the fact that it doesn’t have any buttons or even a bias neckband. What I ended up doing was making a facing for the top and sewing it together with a stretch stitch so it would stretch over her head. It was an experiment that worked out better than I’d planned. I think I’ll make tops like that from now on, or at least more often. I also sewed on the skirt with a zig-zag stitch so that would be stretchy too. I did have to go back through and unpick my straight gathering stitch, but that didn’t take very long. I didn’t even hem the sleeves or the bottom. I just roll-hemmed them with my serger. I liked the look of it for this piece.

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So I started with the dress. I made the skirt extra long just in case. I put it on my baby and measured where the crotch should be. Then I cut out this arch. I made it pretty tall because I wanted the romper to have some longer legs/shorts.

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Then I put elastic in the legs to gather them up. I used 1/4 inch elastic and sewed it in with a regular straight stitch, stretching it as I went.

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Now all that was left was sewing some bias tape over both sides of the crotch. Pretty simple. I added some baby snaps… which took me all day to insert because I don’t have a snap tool and I used a hammer… and ta da! Really though, if you are going to be inserting snaps, get the snap tool. I had to remove bad snaps several times because my hammering ruined the snaps and they wouldn’t fit together.

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This is by far one of my favorite outfits that I’ve made. She gets tons of compliments on it. The sweetheart neckline is a nice added detail. I’ve got a couple more of these baby outfits coming so stay tuned!

 

Star Pillow

I don’t know about you, but I have a ton of NICE fabric lying around from PJ pants, minky blankets and other projects. I tend to get way too much material “just in case” and then have a bunch of extra left over. It isn’t enough for another blanket, but it’s enough that I don’t want to throw it away. That stuff is expensive!

There are a lot of examples out there of what to do with your scrap fabric. I don’t love most of them. They usually require you to use a bunch of fabric that doesn’t match and mash it together into this form or that. I don’t like blankets, rugs or other projects that don’t have matching material. Sorry. I just don’t. The great thing about these pillows is that you only need 15 squares. That’s it! You can do them all one color, 2 colors, 3, 5, 15 for Pete’s sake! If all you can scrape together are 5 inch squares, the pillow is still pretty darn cute. Make a bunch of them for your littles. If you only have 1-2 inch squares, make it a pincushion! I love that they are sooooo versatile. This pillow I’m showing you is made of 8 inch squares, and it’s the perfect size for its intended 3-year-old. The other pillow in the picture above is made of 9 inch squares, and it’s probably my favorite size for kids. It’s big enough to be my son’s new favorite seat on the floor… or anywhere. (I obviously made it out of scraps from his PJs.)

A while back, I made my sister’s kids some baby blankets out of minky. I’ve held onto the extra material for the last 3 years and now I’m making both her kids matching pillows! Yay! On to the pillow! …that was a lot of exclamations… phew.

What you’ll need:

  • Sewing machine… of course
  • 15 perfectly cut squares (any size, as long as they are all the same)
  • Marking pen (I love these because they disappear with water and they have one for light AND dark fabrics!)
  • Clear ruler
  • Matching thread
  • Button cover kit (I used 1 1/2″ but I really wanted 2″ or BIGGER)
  • Pillow stuffing (I used this and I loved it because it stays nice and fluffy. It’s enough to stuff at least 5 pillows of this size.)

The first thing you want to do is cut out all of your squares. Be very precise when cutting. It helps to cut them out one at a time instead of layering fabric and cutting a few at a time. Your pillow will go together much more smoothly if your squares are all EXACTLY the same size. If you have a pattern on your fabric that goes vertical/horizontal, it would look best if you cut your squares on the bias. That way the pattern will look towards the center and go around in a circle instead of being perpendicular. But, we’re using scraps here so waste not right?

When you’re cutting, consider how many colors you want and what your pattern will be. That sounds like a no brainer but I thought that I could do both sides of my pillow in pink and zebra… Obviously that didn’t work out. You can’t really use only 2 colors on the front/back unless you’re OK with 2 of the same color touching. So I tried to add a third color… fail. I’ve decided that this only works if you have ALL the same color or ALL different colors. pic1The next step is crucial. It’s something I almost never do. It just takes up too much time for a regular project. I’ll tell you a little about me. If I can’t finish a sewing project in 1 or 2 sittings, I’m not going to do it. Period. That’s one reason I don’t unpick my mistakes… it takes too much time. I just throw them away and start over. With that attitude, I tend to cut a lot of corners. I don’t do things like iron, mark or meticulously measure. So when I tell you I did this you know it’s essential. Using your marker, mark EVERY corner of EVERY square with a dot 1/4″(my chosen seam allowance) from both sides. (We’re marking the wrong side of the fabric of course.) I made a mock-up mini-pillow as well as a pillow for my son without doing this, and my corners turned out awful. Just do it. You won’t regret it.

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Now the sewing begins. It’s all pretty straight forward. You are pretty much just sewing one square to another the whole time. No curves, tucks or manipulations. The thing you need to remember is to USE YOUR DOTS. Always place your squares right sides together and start sewing right on the dot. Stitch back and forth a few times because you won’t necessarily sew over it to keep it from unraveling. Sew right to the next dot and STOP don’t go any farther. Stitch back and forth a few times here as well. Be exact. You will regret it if you aren’t.

Sew 4 squares together as if you are going to make a regular block. Leave one side open as shown below. Insert your fifth square in into the gap. The picture below is a little confusing because you will have to turn the square like a diamond to fit it in the gap. When sewn it won’t lay flat, but that means it will be 3-D.

star pillow (29)Easy peasy right? Now sew another one. You now have a front and a back. Yay!star pillow (30)Now comes the hardest part… not hard to sew, just hard to explain in pictures. Take one of your sewn stars and lay it right side facing up on the floor/table. Now lay one of your squares right side down on top of one of the squares of the star. Now sew the 2 outside edges together making sure to USE YOUR DOTS.

starr2Now do the same for the remaining 4 sections of the star. I’ve pulled back the black a little so you can hopefully see what it looks like when you are done with this step. Can you guess what famous character is making a cameo in the upper left corner? 🙂

P.S. I hate sewing with minky… it gets EVERYWHERE as you can see in the picture.

star pillow (43)OK. So I didn’t take a picture of this step but we’ll try to work with what we’ve got. In the picture above, I’ve folded out the black square on the bottom so it looks like a triangle. Do that with all 5 black squares. (Yours will be a different color I know.) Now lay your second star piece right side down on top of your folded triangles and pin all around. Be sure you are only pinning the top to the black square and not to the bottom.

star pillow (44)The points don’t matter as much but pay special attention to pinning the inside corners of the star. Match up your seams perfectly and pin them in place. This will make or break your pillow. It’s also where it will show if you didn’t USE YOUR DOTS.

star pillow (46)Now you will sew all around your star, leaving a hole big enough for your hand to fit through for stuffing purposes. When turned right side out, it will look like this. I’ve turned up one corner so you can tell how it was sewn.

star pillow (52)The last steps are pretty basic. Stuff your pillow through the hole. Be sure to use good stuffing that won’t go hard and flat. I used this stuffing because it’s sooooo fluffy. There are higher quality versions out there, but they are MUCH more expensive and this does the trick. I haven’t found a polyester stuffing that I love. I think they all go hard after a while and they are difficult to re-fluff… is that a word? Let me know what you use. I’d love to hear.

Now you can either hand-stitch the opening closed or, if you are lazy like me, you can just topstitch the opening closed on your machine. No one will even notice… especially if you are using minky.

The last thing you want to do is put on your buttons.  Cover them with your material as per the instructions on the box. No equipment is necessary. Before hand-sewing them on, I like to make it a bit easier on myself and pre-squeeze my pillow. To do that, take a LONG needle and thread it. Now press the middle of one side of your pillow tightly to the other sides middle… you know… so you make it indent.

star pillow (60)Now sew through the middle on one side straight through the middle on the other side and then back out the original side. Pull it tight to keep the indent and tie off. Now sew on your buttons and you’re done!

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It seems really complicated and I tried to show a lot of pictures, but it’s pretty simple. Don’t over think it. I’m so excited about this pillow and I will be making a bunch more before the week is out. I hope you love it too!

 

Add pockets to your PJs

Look at those cute boys in their matching PJs. I’m the luckiest girl to have both of them.

I think all pajama pants should have pockets. In fact, I think all articles of clothing deserve the addition. I’m always trying to put my hands in pockets that aren’t there. So why don’t pajama pants have pockets in their patterns? It doesn’t matter because I”m here to show you my pattern-less way to add those pockets you your pants!

First, cut out your pockets. I just looked at some sweatpants pockets and tried to generally match that shape. Below, you can see the dimensions of my men’s pants pockets. The important part is that your hands fit inside so just lay your hand on top of your pocket piece to make sure they will fit. Cut 2 fronts and 2 backs. I know that my measuring board looks like a coloring book. That’s what happens when you have littles who love to play in your sewing room.

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Next, I take my pants and sew the backs to the backs and the fronts to the fronts. You know, so you have a front and back piece.

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The next part is about the placement of the pockets. Measure out how far down your waistband will turn and pin the top of your pockets to meet that measurement. Right sides together of course. Mine are 2 1/2 inches from the top. Just make sure that the tops of your pockets will be sewn into the waistband so they don’t flap around. If that doesn’t make sense, scroll down a little to the picture where I fold over the waistband. It might help.

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Now sew the pockets to the pants using the regular seam allowance called for in your pattern. Now iron your pockets away from your pant legs and place both front and back pieces right sides together.

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This is probably the hardest part so I hope the picture helps you out. Sew down the side of the pants starting at the top. Sew 1/2 inch into the pocket and stop. Then sew all the way around the outside of the pocket and 1/2 inch up the bottom of the pocket. Be sure you don’t sew your pocket closed. Just 1/2 an inch on the top and 1/2 an inch on the bottom. Now sew the sides of your pants down from the pockets like you normally would and also sew the middle of your pant legs together like normal.

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Now turn your pants right side out, and you will see your nice little pockets. Press and admire.

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Now turn your pants inside out again and press the pockets to the front side of the pants. Be sure they are pressed to the front if you want to be able to use your pockets. Now fold your waistband over making sure that it overlaps the top of the pocket and sew around leaving a gap for your elastic.

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Thread your elastic, close up the gap and you’ve got some pocketed PJs! Good luck. I hope this helps. I’m working on my picture and editing skills so bear with me while I get the hang of this.