How to Sew Pajama Shorts (From Old Pajama Pants)

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I recently took old long pajama pants and turned them into pajama shorts for me, but I also created a Mommy & Me set for my daughters. 

I’m a huge fan of refashioning and repurposing everything, and using these old, shrunken pajama pants from my mom’s donation pile was perfect. 

Learn how to refashion pajama pants to create PJ shorts and use the excess fabric for other projects!

how to sew pj shorts

Pajama Shorts Materials

  • Sewing machine (or needle and thread if you don’t have a machine)
  • Old pajama pants that fit you around your waist and in the bottom
  • Scissors and marking utensils
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Pins or Wonder Clips (one of my absolute favorite sewing supplies!)
  • Iron, if you want to be super precise about your seams

How to Sew Pajama Shorts from Pajama Pants

The great thing about repurposing from already constructed pants is that this project is about as easy as sewing gets–you don’t have to do anything but measure, cut, and sew. 

For beginners, learning to make an elastic casing can be difficult. Since you’ll be using pajama pants, the elastic is already there, and the fit is already perfect for you. 

Determining the Shorts Length

First, put on your PJ pants and determine how long you want your shorts to be.

Measure using your ruler or tape measure from the crotch of your pajama pants to where you want the shorts. Take note of this measurement.

Next, take off your pants and lay them flat. If they’re super wrinkly, ironing would be very helpful. 

Measure out from the crotch the length you wanted for the shorts, and add 1/2.” (I like using a 1/2″ hem turn and overcasting the raw edge before turning. If you want to do a different type of hem, you can add a different value to the length measurement here. Folding and folding the fabric again to encase raw edges is prettier when making a seam, but I was looking for simple! These are around-the-house PJ shorts after all!)

Cutting the Fabric

mark your pants where you want the shorts to fall

I used a washable fabric pen to mark my pajamas, but you can mark them how you want. After you’ve marked, cut your fabric. Remember, measure twice, cut once. Once you’ve cut your fabric, there’s no going back if you got the wrong measurement!

cut where you marked

Sewing the PJ Shorts Seam

Turn your newly cut shorts inside out. Each of the leg holes will have what is called a raw edge of the fabric. Many types of fabrics like cotton fray where they are cut, so you want to neaten the edges on these fabrics if you’re not going to do a double-turn seam.

I used an overcasting stitch to finish the edges. If you don’t have an overcasting stitch, you can use a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. I could have used my serger, but it has black thread in it right now and I didn’t want to change it!

finish seam edges with overcasting or zigzag stitch

Next, we’ll be making the seam itself. Turn the finished edge of the pajama shorts 1/2″ up to where the raw edge of the fabric is on the wrong side of the shorts. (If you prefer not to finish your fabrics, again, you could always do a 1/4″ turn up and then turn another 1/2″ to enclose the raw edge. If this is the case, just make sure you’re adding 3/4″ to your length measurement before cutting.)

At this point, you can pin or clip your fabric or press the seam. I love using Wonder Clips because they’re so fun and easy to use!

sew seam in the pj shorts

Then, sew with a scant 1/2″ seam allowance along the folding fabric. This is creating your hem. For me, this put the line of stitches right next to the finished edge.

Clip all your threads and turn your newly made pajama shorts right side out again. Try them on, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

What To Do With the Extra Leg Fabric? Sew Kids’ Pajama Shorts!

two legs left for other sewing projects like kids pj shorts

I don’t like to let anything go to waste, so I decided to also repurpose the leg fabric by making matching PJ shorts for my two daughters.

I didn’t use a pattern, but rather I used two good-fitting pairs of regular shorts to measure the pieces I needed to cut. If you don’t like the trace and replicate method of making clothes, of course you can use a pattern.

how to sew pajama shorts with no pattern

Since everybody’s shape is different and every pair of shorts is different, here’s just a brief summary of how I sewed my girls matching pajama shorts, too.

First, keep the legs inside out. Turn your premade shorts inside out also. Take note of how the pieces are sewn together. Because of the seams already on the PJ pants legs, I needed to make the shorts from 4 pieces of fabric rather than the usual 2 that I’d make PJ shorts with.

marking out the pieces from existing shorts

If you’re going with 4 pieces as well, lay down the shorts and draw around one of the front panels and one of the back panels. You might need to approximate some of the curves. Also, since you have the leg, the fabric is essentially folded, so when you go to cut out your shorts, you’ll be cutting two identical pieces.

Next, cut out these pieces. You’ll want to cut with a seam allowance on the sides of the shorts. I used 1/2.” Thus, I added 1″ to the top and 1/2″ to the bottom. (Again, change these measurements based on how you like to make seams and finish edges.)

Then, construct your pieces just like your model shorts were. For me, this meant sewing the two identical panels of the front together and then doing the same for the back. Then, I stitched the crotch and finally the two sides. Along the way, I finished the fabric edges with an overcasting stitch.

Then, just like I did with my pajama shorts, I hemmed the bottoms of the legs.

On top of the shorts,  I constructed a small casing for elastic. I first finished the fabric edge and then folded around 1″ down. Make sure to leave a small hole to put in the elastic when stitching the casing. I then put in the elastic and stitched the opening of the casing up.

The good thing about pajama shorts is they are easily forgiving, so you can make up a pattern on the fly from old shorts and it will usually stitch out well!

sew pajama shorts for mommy and daughters


Now you’ve learned how to sew pajama shorts using an old pair of PJ pants as a base! This easy repurposing project will help you give new life to old clothes. Let me know how yours turn out!

And if you like repurposing, here are a few other tutorials I’ve done to refashion items around the house:

how to sew pajama shorts

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