there's no such thing as leftovers - the pants

Monday, May 4, 2009

when repurposing or refashioning an item, there is no such thing as leftovers in my house. after having so much fun making dresses from men's shirt's, (see previous post) i created these pants from the sleeves to utilize all the pieces of the shirt.

i decided to try my hand at making a tutorial for all of you as part of the "newbie sewing series". this is my first tute, so please be kind with me, i am still learning as well, and don't worry, the dress "in bloom" is coming next. i decided to use the pants as my trial run.

during the process of making this tutorial i decided to have a little fun with it. what you are getting is the actual step by step of the very first time i tried these pants. that is how things work when we really sew - some things fail, some things succeed, and sometimes we make errors. these pants started out in my mind as being capris, they aren't. they were also supposed to have more of a flat waistband, they don't - but i love em' anyways! this is what i find to be the most addicting part of making clothes from a whim, i just go with where the process takes me.

since i am a newbie sewer and have to admit, i don't know a lot of fancy terminology, i decided to add a new feature to your average tutorial. i tend to be a very visual learner, the more pictures the better, but sometimes that isn't enough for me, i need to see it being done, not just explained. in pondering this during my daily strolls with mackenzie, i decided hey, why not add in a video of me humiliating myself to go with my equally embarrassing attempt at a tutorial? so i did, i decided to give it a shot and see how you all like it. it's not a blockbuster hit, it's just me and my camera (no tripod, i couldn't find it), the tv in the background (some kid's show to keep mackenzie quiet), i have bronchitis - so i sound funny, and of course, i thought they were going to be capris - until i tried them on her..haha.

you will be able to:

1. download the tutorial in a PDF and print it out

PDF DOWNLOAD - there's no such thing as leftovers - the pants

2. watch a video of me talking about the process on you tube or view them in this post.


***Copyright 2010
All rights reserved. For personal use only. Please do not sell items made from this tutorial unless permission has been given.

so have fun with it - experiment, create and let your imagination go wild, but most importantly, trust your instincts, you don't need to be an expert sewer to create a great garment.

please remember to take that much needed second look at items we already have in our homes and rethink their purpose. it truly is a creative journey that we can all share, learn from, and inspire each other with, as a newbie sewer or as an experienced sewer.

so share with me - your thoughts & your pictures, i can't wait to hear from you all! happy sewing!


  1. Shannon!!! Oh my! You are AWESOME.
    I can tell the sewing bug has already captured you.
    Okay, first off....your pants are adorable and GREAT idea! You're already a refashioning pro too :).

    Secondly, great tutorial and video! I've often thought of doing a pdf, so people can print it off. That may be my way to go next.

    Great stuff! You are a superstar. I'm impressed!

  2. That is extremely clever. Such a fabulous idea. I adore the big red buttons on the bottom!! I am excited that the turotial is in PDF format thank you - and I can't wait to try it!

  3. Shannon, the tutorial and video turned out great and are very easy to follow for us "newbie sewers"! Mackenzie looks so cute wearing the pants - I love the red button accent! Way to go!
    Nana will be proud of you.

  4. So cute!!!! And the pants are nice, too! :)

    I posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing Blog:

  5. Your little is such a doll, and what a terrific idea... this is officially on my 'to-make' list (and I'm going to link to this tutorial from my blog Terrific!

  6. Thank you for posting this! I've been meaning to try this out for awhile now. I added your button to my little blog! I am totally making these pants!

  7. These are soooo frickin awesome!

  8. These are gorgeous! My little one is too small for leaving the cuffs on like this yet. I did leave them on with a knit shirt, though and it's super cute. They used to look like little genie pants on him! Can't wait to try a pair with cuffs... soon.

  9. hi, I found your link on whip up and I love your blog! I'll add you to my blog list so I wont miss anything! :)
    Very cute pants and the idea is great!

  10. This is really well-done! It's a great "recycling" idea, especially since at first glance, you can't even tell that the pants are actually recycled shirt sleeves.

    By the way, if you don't have a serger, it is sometimes worth it to take the cut pieces to someone with a serger (either a kind friend or if the price is worth it, a seamstress). But for toddler pants, your solution was definitely what I would've done, too.

  11. Thank you so much everyone!!!
    Your kind words mean a lot. I am glad you are all enjoying it.
    Send me pics when you're done your pants - I wanna see :)

  12. Brilliant. These are the first pair of pants I've seen from sleeves. You are a trailblazer. I linked to it!

  13. What a great idea! This would be a perfect addition to It's super easy to post (esp since you already have adorable pictures and great copy), and would be a great way to drive traffic back to your site!
    Let me know once you've posted and I'll make sure you get featured on the front page.


  14. i make pants from sweaters (which i use to make diaper covers and more), but it didn't occur to me to use a man's shirt for pants, thanks. and ditto...i linked here from whip up, so you are going to be popular! i plan to come back browse your blog. looks lovely! thanks!

  15. This is truly amazing! I had never even thought about it! lol...

  16. How fantastic! I was walking around on the weekend making my little girl laugh, as i had my legs stuck in the arms of an old top - saying dont they make great pants! What a great way to reuse something - im a newbie sewer so i will definately try your sleeve pants!

  17. Hi...I arrived here from the Instructables site/aka/How to Make a Tandoori oven. Go figure eh? *grin*

    Anyhoo's, I am way beyond the Mummyhood, sewing my children's clothes...they are all grown up now but I sure could have used a website like yours when I was sewing clothes for them, for all the fantastic ideas you have on here. I was fortunate enough to have taken sewing in high school ( yes, it was a mandatory course back then ) but at least it gave me the rudimentary skills. Which is why I am writing to you now. ( Nice seguay huh? )....that folded over twice seam you mentioned in the video, to hide the rough edges on both sides and stop fraying, is called a "flat-felled" seam. Absolutely essential in flannel pj's, robes and childrens clothes that get washed over and over again. :)


  18. Those are awesome! I made my daughter a skirt from men's dress shirt sleeves once that was so cute--but I never thought of pants!

  19. Your pants and your model are incredibly cute!!

  20. stopping in via craft.. love these! great idea, great turnout..

  21. thank you so much! I had already cut up my husband's shirts to see if I couldn't do this, but had no idea how it would work! So glad I found you.

  22. These are super cool. I love how the shirt cuffs because the pant cuffs!

  23. Best Bloomer Breeches (from dress-shirt sleeves) tutorial I've found thus far. The rest didn't have enough detail on the measurements needed for the crotch transition. This was very helpful. Thank you!

    I also don't have a serger so I use pinking shears. It's what was used before broad availability of serger machines.

  24. Hello!
    I really like your how to. I was wondering if I could translate it in French and add it to my list of how to as explained in my french post (
    Of course, your website would be quoted and there would be a link!
    Thank you,

  25. Super job!! I made some baby pants from sweater sleeves several months ago. I've also made lots of t-shirt pants and blogged about them here and here

  26. Great idea! Ik made a jeans jacket for my 1 year old son from an old jeans of my husband. What's so nice about it: the fabric is already "worn".

  27. Hi Shannon,
    I just saw your tutorial and was loving every minute of it, especially when your little girl stops by to take a look, thats just the realiy of a sewers life with children!! I thought if you didn't want to hand sew the elastic casing closed what you could do is: instead of folding the casing closed before sewing the crotch, sew the crotch first then fold over casing. Next, sew casing shut leaving about 1-2 inches open to insert the elastic. Last insert elastic and finish by sewing the opening shut. Hope this helps. Thanks so much for your tutorial!!

  28. I just discovered this tutorial & I'm really
    impressed. So creative! Your little girl is

  29. How funny! I made my own shirt sleeve-pants prototype yesterday :) It was a failure, but only because I messed up on the rise. My little one would be "jailin'" badly if he wore them.

    Alas, maybe I can find a wee-er wee one to wear them.

    I searched this morning to see if anyone had written about this - to confirm I was on the right track and to show me where I went wrong - and there you were!

    I'm not downloading your pattern, though, because I plan to sell my pants at a local shop. I wouldn't want to infringe!


  30. I am a littlebit disappointed that my dear husband doesn't wear fancy change into fancy pants.

    downloaded the tutorial!

  31. thank you

  32. You might be a newbie - but your tutorials are AMAZING!! I LOVE the video - it's always better to show everyone how you did it!!


  34. This tutorial was AWESOME!!
    Here is my finished product, 2nd sewing project EVER! :0) That says alot to how well the tut is written as well as the simplicity! thanks a million!
    The pictures....

  35. Thanks you guys!

    Make sure you add your pics to our flickr group, you can find the link on the sidebar. I'd love to see your projects!

  36. I think this is a good idea. I loved it so much i have made 2 pairs for my 2 boys. They use them for pajamas. I also made a shirt to match with the upper part of the left over shirt.

  37. I loved your idea. I have made made my niece a pair from an old men's dress shirt and also from the sleeves of long-sleeved t-shirts. They are great from the long-sleeved shirts because we can roll and unroll the at the cuffs and extend the amount of time she can wear them. Thanks a bunch for the idea!

  38. I love your idea and I've linked you twice on my own blog. Check it out! :)

  39. Shannon! I'm just poking around your tutorials... finally.
    And these are fantastic! I have a stay at home man with a pile of either tired or unused shirts... mu-ahahah. I have now found a use for them.

  40. This is a great tut, but instead of folding the inseam twice, why not just zig zag the seam allowance? It is not quite the same as a surging it but will not let it fray ether.

    1. You could for sure do this. The tutorial was done a long time ago when I was just beginning to learn to sew so over the last 2 years I have learned of a lot more options. Please feel free to adapt as you see fit based on what method you prefer :)


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