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How to Sew Pajama Pants From a Vintage Sheet

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How to Sew Pajama Bottoms From Vintage Sheets

Whip up a quick pair of pajama pants from a vintage sheet. This is an easy beginner project, and you can usually get several pairs out of a single flat sheet. Since this tutorial uses a pair of your favorite pajama pants as the pattern, they’re guaranteed to fit you perfectly. Make a pair for yourself. Then, make matching pairs for your kids.

Vintage Flat Sheet

I regularly find vintage sheets at yard sales and thrift stores for $1 or less. That’s a bargain for all that yardage, and those pretty floral patterns printed on soft cotton are just perfect for making pajamas.

Pants Leg of Vintage Sheet Pajamas

I use the top hem of the sheet as the hem for my pants legs, so there’s very little sewing involved. I honestly think I could sew a pair of these faster than I could go to the store to shop for a pair.

Let me show you how they’re made.

Pajama Bottoms Made From Vintage Sheets

Vintage Sheet Pajama Pants Sewing Tutorial

This tutorial includes instructions for both a drawstring waistband and an elastic waistband. Just choose your preferred method, and follow the steps outlined.

What You’ll Need:

What You Do:

Use a Pair of Pajamas as a Pattern

Lay a vintage flat sheet on your work surface, good side facing up, and with the top hem positioned at the bottom. Fold the left side of the sheet over. Then, fold your favorite pajama pants in half lengthwise, and position them on top of your sheet. Line the bottom of the pants leg up with the bottom of the sheet and the center seam of your pajama pants up with the left edge of the sheet (the folded edge). Make sure you have at least 1/2″ of sheet sticking out past the crotch seam (that’s the seam that’s sticking out the farthest on the right).

Mark One-Half Inch Out From Pajamas

Measure and mark 1/2″ around the right side of your pajama pants. Measure and mark 3-1/4″ out from the top of the waistband; make sure the line for your waistband is straight.

Cut Out First Pajama Bottom Leg

Cut along your marks.

Cut Out Second Pajama Bottom Leg

Now fold the right side of your sheet over, and position the piece that you just cut on top of your sheet, with the bottom of the pants leg lined up with the bottom of the sheet and the folded seam lined up with the right (folded edge) of your sheet. Trace and cut around the cut piece.

Sew Pants Legs Seams

Then, sew or serge a 1/4″ seam up both legs …

Stop Sewing When You Reach the Crotch Seam

stopping when you reach the crotch seam.

Pin Front Crotch Seams Together

Lay the pajama legs back on your work surface, and match up the two front seams of the crotch. Sew or serge a 1/4″ seam to join them. Then, do the same with the back crotch seam.

Pajama Bottoms With Crotch Seams Sewn

Here’s what your pajama pants should look like at this point.

Fold Waistband Down One-Quarter Inch

To finish the waistband, fold the top down 1/4″, and iron in the crease.

Fold Waistband Down One-Half Inch

Then, fold the waistband down another 1-1/2″.

To Sew a Drawstring Waistband

Mark Placement of Button Holes

Lay the pants back on your work surface, with the front side facing up, and mark the placement of the two button holes that the drawstring will feed through. I positioned mine 3/4″ over from the center seam of the pajamas.

Unfold Waistband

Once you’ve made your marks, unfold the waistband temporarily …

Sew Two Buttonholes for Drawstring

and sew two button holes, following the instructions that came with your sewing machine.

Use a Seam Ripper to Open Button Holes

Use a seam ripper to open your button holes when you’re done. Then, fold the waistband back down, and sew along the edge to create the channel for your drawstring.

Grosgrain Ribbon Threaded Through Bodkin

Now, use a bodkin, or a safety pin, to insert the ribbon drawstring. That’s a bodkin shown above. If you don’t have one, just attach a safety pin to the end of your ribbon.

Thread Drawstring Through Waistband

Insert the ribbon through one of the button holes.

Drawstring Inserted in Pajama Bottoms

Then, work it through the waistband, until it comes back out the other button hole.

Pajama Bottoms With Drawstring Waistband

Leave enough tail on your drawstring, so you can tie the ribbon in a pretty bow. Then, dab a bit of stop fray on the end of your ribbon, so it won’t fray, and you’re done!

To Sew an Elastic Waistband

Sew along the edge of the waistband; leave the last two inches open, for inserting the elastic.

Cut a piece of elastic that’s one inch shorter than your waist measurement.

Then, use a bodkin, or safety pin, to insert the elastic into the waistband, working it around, until it comes back out the other side.

Make sure the elastic isn’t twisted anywhere; then, overlap the two ends of the elastic by an inch, and sew them together.

Finish by sewing the last two inches of the waistband down.

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  1. Hi Erin,
    I’d love it if you would make a video for making pajama pants. I get a bit confused with written directions, especially the part where you wrote…
    “Now fold the right side of your sheet over, and position the piece that you just cut on top of your sheet, with the bottom of the pants leg lined up with the bottom of the sheet and the folded seam lined up with the right (folded edge) of your sheet. Trace and cut around the cut piece.”


    1. Hi Diane,

      Thanks for the suggestion. I definitely need to get back to making some videos (I had a video intern for a while and that forced me to carve out time in my schedule for making videos). Hopefully, now that the kids are both raised an in college, I’ll start to find some more time for videos. I’ll let you know, if I end up doing one for my pajamas.

  2. Hi, I found your site when I googled ‘ sew pj shorts from old sheet’. I bought some nice ones at Kohls back when they were 100% cotton and felt like a sheet. Anyhow now days they’re 20$ for a pair of short ones that seem like underwear to me, they’re so short! I’m goi g to give this a go but I’m all thumbs when it comes to needle and thread and I bought a very basic machine from a friend. I’m not sure I can do a buttonhole but we will see. These are great I can’t wait to start

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