We were given a lot of hand-me-downs for our little nugget, but the majority of the pants were made for wearing over a very trim disposable diaper. After struggling to get them up over a cloth diapered bum, we quickly realized that stretchy knit pants were perfect for a cloth diapered baby. We absolutely loved these pants for our little nugget but they’re so expensive. Being a cloth diapering, crafty, frugal mama I quickly figured out an easy way to make cute upcycled pants for our little nugget. Over the last couple years I’ve made upcycled pants for our little nugget out of tshirts and stretchy wool sweaters and saved us quite a bit of money by not having to buy new pants to fit a cloth diapered baby.
Our little nugget always gets lots of compliments when we go to town wearing a pair of her fun, one-of-a-kind, handmade upcycled pants. Upcycled pants are so fun to make! Especially now that our little nugget is old enough to pick out colors and designs. I loved watching her dig through my pile of tshirts to upcycle to select a color. It was even more fun to watch her sort through my scrap fabric pile. She just loved the colorful guitar fabric that we used for appliques in this pair of upcycled tshirt pants and loves to wear them and play her little guitar!
- 1 tshirt made of stretchy knit (you can use any shirt or even a wool sweater as long as it has some stretch)
- sewing machine
- 1 pair of baby/toddler pants to use as your pattern
- Fabric marking pen (regular pen will work too)
- Scrap fabric if you want to add any appliques, pockets or trim
How to Make Upcycled Tshirt Baby and Toddler Pants:
1. On a flat surface, lay out your tshirt so the bottom hem is even. Take your pattern pants and turn one leg inside out and stuff it into the other leg. Smooth it out and place it on the tshirt with the longest side lined up evenly with the edge of your tshirt. The crotch seam of the pants should be facing towards the inside of the tshirt and the bottom edge of your pants pattern should be flush with the bottom hem of the tshirt (this saves the step of having to hem your pants!)
2. This tutorial uses a 1/4″ seam allowance. With a pen, draw a line on your tshirt 1/4″ away from the edge of the pants you are using as your pattern. Start at the bottom ankle hem and carefully draw your line up the leg and the crotch seam. At the waistband, draw your line out 1/4″ plus the width of your elastic. This will ensure you cut enough fabric to fold down and create a casing for the elastic. For example, my elastic was 1/4″ so I drew my line 1/2″ out from the top edge of the waistband of the tan pants I used as my pattern.
3. Remove the pants pattern and cut on the line you drew. Repeat steps 1-3 on the other side of the tshirt so you have two pant legs cut.
4. This step is where it is easiest to add any appliques, decorations or details to jazz up your cute little pants. I always like to add a simple pocket on each hip. This can be done by cutting a square from a tshirt sleeve using the hemmed edge of the sleeve as the top edge of your pocket. For this pair of pants, our little nugget picked out a pink and red guitar that I cut out, pinned and zigzag stitched to the pocket squares.
Once the applique is on the pocket, lay the two pants pieces out flat. Position the pockets on the pants, pin the edges and stitch around the sides and bottom to leave the top edge open. Since knit doesn’t fray you can simply stitch the pocket on without having to turn the edges under.
5. Take one pants piece and fold it so right sides are together. Pin the ankle to crotch seam and stitch 1/4″ in from the edge. I use a zigzag stitch to allow for some stretch in the stitches when the fabric stretches. Do this for both pant legs.
6. Flip one pant leg right side out and place inside the other pant leg so the right sides are together.
Match the center crotch seems and pin all the way up to the top waistband.
Sew this seam with a zig zag stitch 1/4″ from the edge. I was taught to double stitch crotch seams but for active baby and toddler pants I triple stitch the crotch seam.
7. Turn the pants inside out. They’re almost done! Measure your elastic and fold down the waistband 1/4″ longer than your elastic width. Pin the waistband all the way around.
Sew the a casing in the waistband by sewing close to the bottom edge of the folded down waistband. Be sure to leave a small opening in your casing to thread the elastic!
8. Once you sew the casing, clip a safety pin to the end of your elastic and feed it through the casing. You can estimate the elastic waist needed by comparing it to the pants you used for your pattern or try the pants on your little one. When making baby pants, I always found it easier to estimate the waistband than try to adjust the waist on a wiggly baby. Plus a cloth diapered bum usually holds the pants up pretty well anyway! Now that our little nugget is a potty trained toddler, I actually had her try the pants on so I could get the waistband fit just right so her pants aren’t falling off her little bum.
9. Sew the ends of the elastic together. I like to zig zag stitch them back and forth about 4-5 times to make sure they are good and snug.
Now sew the last bit of the waistband to close the opening but be sure to keep the elastic out of the way so it does not catch in the seam.
10. Turn the pants right side out and you’re done! Now you can go put your fun upcycled pants on your baby or toddler and be a proud mama who crafted a super cute pair of pants for her little one for little to no cost!
Here’s our pair of upcycled tshirt toddler pants. They turned out so darn cute! Our little nugget wanted to put them on immediately and absolutely loves them. After putting them on, she ran to her room to get her little guitar so she could dance, sing and play guitar in her new mama made guitar pants!
Here’s a better picture so you can see how adorable the little guitars are on the pockets.
Here’s another pair of upcycled tshirt pants I made last winter for our little nugget. They fit her then since she had a cloth diapered bum and now that she’s wearing underwear they still fit her. Making a pair of pants for little to no cost that last for two seasons of wear is pretty amazing!
If you try this tutorial, please share in the comments since we’d love to hear what cute upcycled creations you made!
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