Maternity Make-over: The Pajama Pant

My super cool and super generous sis-in-law sent me a PajamaGram for my birthday.  Are not these PJ's the sweetest?

(Let's pretend this is me modeling them for you.)

There was just one small problemo.  This here girl (as in, me) is getting close to eight months pregnant and the high-waisted pants didn't sit right in the belly region.

Shocking, I know.

I'm not one of those gals that really loves the over-the-belly feel of an elastic waistband.  Usually (not always, but usually), I prefer a maternity waistband to reside somewhere south of the belly equator.  Such was not the case with these pajama pants.  The waistline landed snugly in the northern hemisphere:

I think there might also be some unspoken rule of pajama pant making that says pajama pants must have granny waists even though all other pants have gone the way of low rise.  But I digress...

Normally I wouldn't dream of trying to alter such a perfect PJ set for fear of causing irreversible damage, but I made an exception because I'm desperately in need of winter maternity pajamas. (And also because my sister-in-law  gifted me a second set of nursing pajamas for after the baby's arrival.)

Here is the quick and dirty tutorial of how I lowered and expanded the waistband to accommodate my growing belly.  Let me put some extra emphasis on the quick and dirty part, which is code for terrible pics and abbreviated instructions. I apologize in advance.

Again, here are the pajama pants in all of their untouched glory:

Let the destruction alterations begin!

For the new waistline, I decided not to make a casing for the elastic, but to sew the elastic directly to the fabric, just like the original waistband.  I used my basic Bernina sewing machine and a sewing machine needle made especially for knit fabrics (I believe needles for knits have a more rounded point so that they don't break threads, but I could be wrong.)

I needed a larger elastic waist-band to accommodate the lower waistline, but I didn't have any elastic on hand.  No matter.  I rummaged through my husband's underwear drawer and stole the oldest, ugliest pair of boxers I could find and I ripped the elastic off of them.

Many thanks to you, Fruit of the Loom.

To determine how much lower I wanted to make the waistline, I took my most favorite pair of Goodwill lounge pants and used them as a guide.  (At this point I feel the need to mention that you CANNOT see that horrid striped waistband on my pants when I'm wearing them because I wear long shirts!)

The front on my lounge pants measured roughly 9.5 inches.

The back on my lounge pants measured roughly 13.5 inches.  (Please pardon the poor drawing skills.)

Next, I marked those measurements on the center front and center back seams of the pajama pants using pins.  Here's a picture of the front, marked at 9.5 inches above the crotch seam.  (I'm sorry to use the word crotch so much, but there is no other word to use!) I marked the back seam at 13.5".

Then I marked out the top of the new waistline all the way around with pins.  Because the waistline in the front was a few inches lower than the waistline in the back, the markings moved upward as I made my way from the front to the back.  I made sure that the sides were symmetrical as I went along.  Like so:

The next step was to pin the sexy gray FTL elastic waistband from my husband's boxers into the inside of the pajama pant waist.

Word to the wise: when sizing up one's new waistband elastic, it's best to err on the side of snug because the band needs to be strong enough to hold up the weight of the pants.  Believe me.  I learned that tip the hard way. avoid this elastic-sizing-problem altogether and to give yourself the option of making the waistband bigger as you grow, you could make a casing for the elastic instead of sewing the elastic to the fabric.  But I didn't do that, because I like to do things the hard way.

Back to the pants:

I pinned the waistband along the pins marking the new waistline.

Notice that the elastic is pinned above the markings because it will eventually be turned under:

Sewing machine time!

To attach the elastic, I used a simple zigzag stitch on the widest setting with a stitch length of 4.

Once sewed, the inside looked like this:

At this point I tried them on and the waistband was too loose (told you I learned the hard way).  I had to rip out the elastic and tighten it and sew the waistband in all over again.  Blahhh!  Darn pregnancy brain-eating hormones.

Fast forward through the redo.

After zigzagging the waistband in, it was time to turn the elastic under in preparation to sew it down one more time.  As you can see in this next picture, when the elastic is turned under, it becomes sandwiched between the layers of fabric and you can't see it anymore (a good thing when you are putting gray elastic into pink pajamas).

To finish sewing down the elastic, I used a simple straight stitch.  I sewed from the outside of the pants (basically a topstitch).  The key was to catch the elastic in the stitching.

Because of the stretch, I used a large stitch length of about 4.  (I had to stretch the elastic as I went along - see second picture.)

I considered doing a double row of top stitching, but there is always the possibility that I might want to tighten these pants up again after the baby is born.  Therefore, I didn't go overboard on the finishing work.

Besides, I am in full perfectionist mode when I sew for others, but when I sew for myself I don't mind things a bit rough around the edges.

After the top stitching was completed and I had tried the pants on one more time to make sure everything fit a-okay, I trimmed away the extra fabric to leave a 3/8" seam allowance. (If you have a serger, you can serge off the excess and give it a nicer finish.)

What could be more fitting than such a shamefully grainy photo finale?

p.s. I'm wearing these pants right this minute and my belly totally approves.


  1. Thanks! I am going to make maternity pajama pants for my 6'2" daughter...and this will work great to adapt the regular fit pj pant pattern. Your tutorial maked me smile!

    1. Hope it works out well for you -- I bet with your daughter's height, it is difficult to find maternity pants! What a great mom you are :o) ~ Liz

  2. Great tutorial !! Thank you so much for sharing!!


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