Tutorial: Toddler Pants from Dad's Sleeves

12:09 PM

Just reposting this tutorial that was with Cheri's refashionista series a couple weeks ago in case you missed it.

I decided to use my husband's chambray dress shirt and ended up making pants for our daughter.

Refashioning a chambray dress shirt from my husband, I flipped it upside down to use the sleeves as pants.  Obviously sleeves are only so long and so this will only work with toddler sized pants. 

I went with a basic pant with an elastic waist and added patch pockets.
The back of these pants ended up having the sleeve underarm seams coming to a point at the waist.
I know I wouldn't want an arrow pointing to my butt, but in a baby I thought it added some texture and interest.  You could also add back pockets draw some attention away. 

The unique element that comes from the sleeves are definitely the plackets and cuff that become the new super thick hem and interesting buttoned side seams.
I added the pleated patch pockets and all the contrasting buttons.

So on to making your own:
Make Some Pants from Dad's Sleeves!
Start off by hacking off the sleeves at shoulder seams.
To avoid having puffy pants above the cuff, you'll need to get rid of the wrist pleats found in men's dress shirts.  Unpick the cuff from the sleeve.  You'll need between the buttonhole side to 2" beyond the pleats free.
I use a flat razor to unpick, much quicker and easier than a seam ripper.

3. Press the sleeve to make the button placket your new side seam, and steam and press the pleats flat.
You'll be sewing a new seam line to match up with the width of the cuff, taking out the excess fabric that was used in the pleats. 

4. Using a pair of pants that fit or a pattern, trace the front of the pants.

Orient the hem right on the cuff (since you won't be hemming) and the side seam right on the fold of the sleeve placket.  Trace the pants to allow for seam allowance and an extra 1" along the top for an elastic casing.

**Remember to plan a seam allowance at the bottom of sleeve to meet up and match the width of the cuff**
5. Cut along your line, making sure to only cut the front of the pants, not through both sides.

6. Flip the sleeve over to the other side, and fold the pants to trace the back half.

Repeat the same steps with the seam allowance, and cut out back half of leg.

When you open it up, the fold is the new side seam, and you can use this piece to cut the other sleeve.

7.  Sew the inside leg seam, making sure they are right sides together, and will match up to fit the width of the cuff when sewn.
8.  Reattach cuff to sleeve by top-stitching around what is now the pant leg. 
Repeat on other sleeve.

9. Connect both pant legs by inserting one inside the other.

One will be right side out, one will be inside out in order to have them right sides together.

Sew the curve that creates the center front and back seam.
At this point you'll have a pair of pants.

1. Trace desired pocket shape on muslin or lining fabric, cut rectangles using scraps from upper sleeves about 1.5" wider than desired pocket.
2. Pin the outer edges to the pocket sides on the muslin, then work the rest of the excess fabric into pleats to lie flat on the muslin base.
3. Sew across the pleats along the straight top side of pocket tracing.
4. Fold the muslin back, keeping the raw edges between the layers.  Press the fold to make the finished top of the pocket.
5. Measure button and sew horizontal buttonhole through both layers.
6. Pin pleats again along bottom of pocket as you did to the top.
7. Stitch around the pocket, in the "U" shape connecting the entire pleated top fabric to the muslin base.  Trim the edges to 1/4" or serge around pocket.

8. Pin pockets to front of pants.
I used the fold or "side seam" as a guide for the outer edge of the pocket and placed my pockets vertically between the top of the sleeve placket and waist.
Top stitch around the edges of the pocket with 1/8" seam allowance.

9. To create a casing or tube to hold the elastic, finish the top edge by serging, pinking or sewing a zig-zag.  Press down top edge 1" to wrong side of pants.  Sew around waist with 7/8" seam allowance making the casing, but leave 2-3" unsewn so you have a hole in the tube.

Cut 3/4" elastic to desired waist length, and using a safety pin thread through the pants top casing.

Pulling both ends of the elastic out of the hole you left, sew them together, then finish sewing the casing hole to complete the elastic waistband.

10. Add buttons for pockets and replace original dress shirt buttons with something fun.
I chose to add four buttons to the sleeve placket to look more intentional and less like a sleeve on a baby leg. 

The pleats are gone, leaving a straight leg pair of pants with unique side seam button placket and thick cuffed hem!

I was thinking this same idea would be great for little boys, making them with cargo pockets, knee patches, or snaps/ studs rather than buttons for a more manly look.

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  1. Now those are just incredibly cute!

  2. Very clever refashion!!! They look so cute. Love the pockets and the buttons.

  3. These are so very cute!! Don't know how they would go for a boy though, hmmm!! Wonder if I could make them to fit my super tiny 4 year old pixie.

    1. Cindy, I'm sure you can, I know you can. Bringing back a phrase I used in my younger days, "nothing beats a failure but a try". Give it a shot, what do you have to lose?

    2. "what do you have to lose?"

      ....the shirt off your back.

  4. Thanks for this idea. My husband is very happy that our daughter is now wearing his old shirt.

  5. These are so adorable! And I just took 2 of my husband's shirts into the sewing room because they have paint on them. I was going to cut them into quilt squares for a Mission quilt, but I can do this with the sleeves for my 2 grandkids (1 boy, 1 girl). And your pockets really make these super cute!


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