How to Sew EASY Pajama Shorts for Beginners + Video Tutorial

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Who doesn’t need more pretty pajamas?

Today you’ll learn how to sew pajama shorts from scratch!

I’ve broken the process down into 6 simple steps for beginners. And I’ll be showing you the whole process by video.

These DIY shorts are designed to be easy:

  • There are only a few things to sew. That means no pockets, cuffs, drawstrings, or piping.
  • You only need a few materials: your fabric, some elastic, and interfacing.
  • These shorts have an elastic waistband, so they’re comfy to wear and easy to pull on and off.
  • Normally sewing patterns tell you to sew the waistband with the tricky “stitch-in-the-ditch” method. I’ve explained an alternative way that’s much faster and more mistake-proof.
how to sew pajama shorts
red plaid pajama shorts with elastic waistband
front view of red plaid pajama shorts
Pattern matching success at the center seams!
flatlay of red pajama shorts, grey t-shirt, scissors, and thread.
red pajama shorts and grey t-shirt worn by mannequin
side view of red pajama shorts worn by mannequin

Materials needed

red plaid fabric cut out for pajama shorts
2 front pieces, 2 back pieces, 2 waistband pieces, elastic, and fusible interfacing.
  • A shorts sewing pattern. I’m using this one, minus the faux fly and pocket.
  • Light to medium weight fabric with no stretch (in other words, a “woven” fabric).
  • Elastic. I’m using 1 1/2″ wide braided elastic.
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing.

Shorts sewing pattern

You can trace shorts you already own, or buy a sewing pattern.

I’m using a modified version of the Closet Case ‘Carolyn’ pajamas. I ignored the pocket and faux fly, and lengthened the shorts a bit.

I have separate posts covering pajama patterns for men and children, including lots of free ones! Definitely check those posts out to make matching PJs for your family.

Light/medium weight woven fabric

A woven fabric is a type of fabric that isn’t stretchy.

For this project, it should have some drape. We don’t want anything stiff.

I used a plaid cotton flannel, however, I don’t recommend this for beginners.

It took me longer to cut out and sew because I had to make sure the pattern matched.

A plain fabric is better for beginners.

If you do want to use plaid, pick 1 area where you want the pattern to match. You won’t be able to match it everywhere. I chose the center seams (so that’s the middle of the shorts, between the legs).


Amount needed: the length of your waist + seam allowance.

I’m using 1 1/2″ wide braided elastic.

Lightweight fusible interfacing

Interfacing is a material that gives your main fabric structure and support.

We’re going to use it in our waistband so that it isn’t floppy and weak.

Fusible interfacing has glue dots on one side. This lets you iron it onto your fabric, so they become one.

Because we’re using light to medium weight fabric, we want to use light or medium weight interfacing.

Avoid interfacings that are too stiff. We don’t want the “cardboard effect” on our waistbands! I recommend testing your interfacing on a scrap of fabric first to be sure.

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Step 1: sew the center seams

  1. Place your back pieces on top of each other, with the right sides facing each other.
  2. Sew them together at the center back seam.
  3. Finish the raw edge to stop it from fraying. I’m using an overlocker/serger, but you can use the zig zag or mock overlock stitch on your sewing machine.
  4. Repeat this for the front pieces.
  5. Iron the seams to one side so that it lays flat.

Step 2: sew the inseam

  1. Pin and sew the bottom of the shorts (called the inseam).
  2. Finish the raw edge (overlock it, zig zag it, etc).
  3. Iron the seam towards the back of the shorts.

Step 3: sew the side seams

  1. Pin and sew the side seams.
  2. Iron the seam towards the back of the shorts.

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Step 4: sew the waistband (2 methods)

  1. Cut 2 pieces of fusible interfacing that are the same size as the waistband pieces (ideally slightly smaller, because we don’t need interfacing in the seam allowance)
  2. Iron the fusible interfacing to the waistband pieces.
  3. Let it cool so the glue can set properly.
  4. Sew the short ends of the waistband to create a tube.
  5. Press the seams open.

OK, now you have 2 options:

The easy method

  1. Press the waistband in half with an iron.
  2. Pin and sew the waistband to the top of the shorts, right sides facing each other. Leave a 3″ gap at the back. We’ll need this hole to insert the elastic.

The ‘stitch-in-the-ditch’ method

  1. Iron the waistband in half.
  2. Fold one edge of the waistband by 1/2″. Press it with an iron.
  3. Sew the unpressed edge of the waistband to the top of the shorts, right sides facing each other.
  4. Iron the seam allowance up towards the top of the waistband.
  5. Fold the waistband so that it covers the seam allowance. Pin and sew this, leaving a 3″ gap at the back for the elastic to be inserted.

Step 5: insert the elastic

  1. Cut the elastic to the length of your waist, plus an inch for seam allowance.
  2. Put a safety pin into 1 side of the elastic.
  3. Feed the elastic through the waistband.
  4. Sew the ends together.
  5. Sew the gap in the waistband closed.

Step 6: hem the shorts

  1. Fold the edge by 1/2″.
  2. Fold the edge again by 1″. Press it with an iron and pin it in place.
  3. Stitch the edge.

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