Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sew-Along Project: Sleep Pants (Finishing Up!!)

Woo-hoo!  We're just about at the finish line with our sleep pants!  In this last, finishing-up step, we'll be doing the hems on the legs of the pants.

To get the length right, have the person who will be wearing the sleep pants try them on.  Take a couple of straight pins, fold the hem up, and mark the length that you want the pants to end up.  If you're not sure how long they should be, a good rule of thumb for things like pj pants is that they should come just a bit above the floor at the back leg.  If you mark them at this length, the wearer will have plenty of length over the foot.  Remember, these pants won't shrink since we pre-washed our fabric.  You don't have to mark the whole hem while the pants are on the wearer; just mark that back leg area.

Once you know where you want the final length of your sleep pants to be, you need to cut the bottoms of the legs off exactly 1" below your final length measurement.  That 1" of fabric will be the hem.  You can use your seam gauge to mark all around each leg (with pencil) where your cut line will be.  That unfinished, cut edge will be enclosed in the hem, so it doesn't matter if you use something highly visible, like a red pencil, to mark your line.  Perhaps you're wondering, though, why you need to cut the excess fabric off?  Well, you could leave the length as is and make a deeper hem.  But, unless you're making these for a child and you want to allow some extra length that you can let out in case they grow, I recommend cutting off the extra fabric.  A small hem is easier to do and it's a more professional-looking finish.

So, once your legs have been cut, turn the pants inside out, use your seam gauge and turn up the hem to 1".  Pin all the way around each leg, as shown below:
Now take the pinned hems to the ironing board and press, just like you did when you were making the casing for the elastic.  Press carefully all around each leg, and take the pins out.  Your pants will look like this at this point:
Next step is to tuck the raw edge of each hem underneath, meeting the fold in the fabric and pinning in place, like this:
Keep going, pinning and pressing, all the way around both legs.  Leave a pin in at each seam, just to assist with the sewing.  Your pants will look like this once the entire hem has been pressed into place:

Now you're going to sew the hems.  If you have a free-arm machine, where you can snap a piece off to make a smaller, "floating" sewing bed, this is the perfect use for it.  It is MUCH easier to sew a hem on a narrow pant leg when you can just slip the leg right over the free arm of your machine.  This is something you want to consult your sewing manual for, if you aren't sure how your machine converts to a free-arm.  However, if you don't have a free-arm machine, no worries, just go slowly and make sure that you don't catch another piece of the leg fabric in the machine while you're sewing the hem.

The photo below shows my pants, slipped over the free arm of my machine, as I'm starting to sew the hem.  You want to start your sewing a few inches in front of the inner leg seam (which will be the French seam that we did).  This is because you want the start and finish of the stitching for the hem to not be noticeable.  Note in the photo below that I'm sewing pretty close to the folded hem edge, although you don't need to be right AT the edge like we were when stitching the elastic casing.  The hems are more forgiving.
One thing I want to mention here is that you'll need to coax your presser foot over the seam areas.  This is one of the things I don't like about French seams -- when you're hemming over a French seam, you've got a LOT of bulk once that seam is folded over, then folded over again.  However, your machine can handle it fine.  Just stop as you get close to the seam, keep the needle down, lift the presser foot up and adjust the fabric underneath, then carefully sew over the seam, pushing and pulling just a bit on the fabric until it feeds through the machine.  Always go SLOWLY when you're doing tasks like this, and you'll have great results.

Go ahead and sew the hems in both pant legs, and trim all of your loose threads.  Here's what the finished hems will look like on the outside ...
... and here's how they'll look on the inside:
Here's a close-up of how the stitching will look on the outside -- you can see that my stitching line is just about 1/2" above the bottom of the pant leg.
And that's it!  Once the hems are finished, your sleep pants are DONE!  Here is my older son, modeling his new, finished sleep pants:
What I would love for you to do is take a photo of YOUR finished sleep pants, and post it to the thread that I'll start on TwoPeas NSBR board.  It will be really fun to see what everyone has accomplished, and we can all pat each other on the back!

But seriously, aren't you proud of yourself?  You made a comfortable, durable pair of pj pants that will wear like crazy, won't shrink, and can be washed and dried with no seams raveling or threads coming undone.  You also (hopefully) learned a few new techniques in the process.

The NEXT sew-along project is going to be an apron, so start looking for some pretty, spring-like fabric to make yours, and I'll have an introductory post on that project soon!!


  1. Thank you so much for this sew-along blog. I had not sewed in many years. This was a wonderful refresher course! Looking forward to your next one. An apron should be fun!

  2. Have I missed the posts on aprons or are we still waiting or done?
    Barbara (I can't sign in to my acct for some reason...

  3. I'm a little late to the party but, like one of the other commenters, am also getting back into sewing after a long break.

    I thought I'd start with pyjama pants and had my heart set on self-enclosed seams but was unsure about which type of seam to employ for each section as well as the order of construction. I scoured the internet and found that most sewers use straight overlocked seams, which are OK, but not what I wanted. I was about to resign myself to having to do the same and just follow the pattern directions when I found your posts.

    Anyway, all I really wanted to say was thank you, thank you and thank you. Your instructions are detailed, clear and, well, perfect.

    Did I say thank you?

    Spud from Downunder.