My Material Life

Sewing Pajama Pants with French Seams

Did you hear the good news?  Project Runway returns this week (July 28)!  I can’t wait.  Tim and Heidi and Michael and Nina have been away for far too long.  And I’m even more excited this season because I’m starting to sew again myself.  Nothing too fancy; I’m easing my way back in with things like pajama pants.  I’ve made two pair this summer, one for Sam and one for her Dad.

I forgot how easy pajama pants are to sew.  If you’re new to sewing or getting back to it like me, do consider a pajama pant project.  You’ve only got one pattern piece that you’ll use to cut the two legs of your pajamas, three seams to sew – two inner leg and one center seam, one elastic waistband and two hems on the legs.  That’s it!  And each of those three seams will work wonderfully with a French seam.  Do you know about French seams?  They’re the best.  A perfect finish – as neat on the inside as the outside.  That photo on the left shows the inside of Sam’s pajama pants.  Pretty nice, huh?

Another good thing about sewing pajama pants is how easy it is to find fabric for them.  It can be difficult to find nice dressmaker fabric in your local shops these days, but it’s pretty easy to find fabric for pj pants because all those quilting stores carry a boat load of prints that will likely allow you to match an interest of your pj pant recipient with just the right fabric.  You’ll also need a pattern and there are any number of them available.  I have an old McCall’s pattern that I use for my husband and myself and I actually traced Samantha’s from a simple pants pattern in the book, Carefree Clothes for Girls. I found a roll of tracing paper from an old drafting class I took that worked perfectly for that task.

Now about those French seams.  They work well on straight seams and will even work on your center seam for pj pants because the curve is nice and big. You wouldn’t want to use a French seam on a tighter curve like a set-in sleeve because it would be too bulky.  I use them whenever I can because they are simply the most elegant seam finish.  To begin, instead of placing your fabric pieces right sides together as you usually would, place them wrong sides together and sew a very narrow seam – about 1/8″.

Next, press the seam just as you stitched it.  Then turn the pieces wrong sides together and press the seamed edge.

To make a 1/2″ seam, stitch 3/8″ away from that edge and again press the seam as you just sewed it.

Press the remaining seam allowance to one side.

We might not be ready for Project Runway, but we can make a fine pair of pajama pants.


    • I can just see him toodling around in a red and white striped pair, but he’d have none of it I’m sure. Not like Clancy! Though I don’t think I ever tried to get pants on him either.

  1. I just stumbled across your blogwhile looking for a way to make pj pants (or baby pants) with French seams along the crotch and inseam. I can do one or the other, but I can’t figure out how to do both. Is there a way?

    • I do both seams that way. Are you concerned about your machine being able to sew over the bulky part where the seams cross? You might try a product like the “hump-jumper” if your machine gives you trouble. Otherwise, just try it. My pattern has two pieces. I sew French seams to form each leg of the pants first. Then I put the legs together (one inside the other to get that big u-shaped seam that makes the crotch and front and back center). Just remember when you sew French seams you have to stitch the wrong sides together first and then turn right sides together to finish your seams. It should work for you too. Good luck! Colleen

  2. Kirsty Buckley

    So glad I found this, I made one pair of pj pants and just clipped the seam and used the one leg inside the other technique, made a second pair with french seams, but couldn’t figure out how to put them inside each other in order to sew the right sides together. They are ok, but don’t seem to hang right, and even my clueless husband noticed. Surely my third pair will be perfect? 😉 Thanks for the advice

  3. Kristine

    Thank you! My daughter, getting ready to head off to college this fall, found some fabric she wants PJ bottoms from, and this is perfect since I have no serger, just my Mom’s 1986 Pfaff sewing machine!

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