Fluffy-bottom Sweater Pants Tutorial

Before Eli was born I sewed a lot of fitted cloth diapers using the Mama Bird diaper pattern. While cloth diapering saves a lot of money over using disposables, sewing your own also saves that initial investment that comes with buying your cloth diaper stash. In the end I found I needed more than I was able to sew so I have also used some gDiapers, prefolds, and a few Kushies that were given to me.

The main drawback I have found to cloth diapering has been that Eli’s pants don’t fit over the bulk of the diapers he wears. We also had trouble getting him to fit well in his car seat while wearing the cloth diapers. If we have another child I will research other trimmer brands and look for a new cloth diaper pattern. With Eli I am compromising by using the cloth diapers when we are home and using ‘sposies when we go out.

During the summer it isn’t any problem letting Eli go just diaper clad down below when we are at home, but now that cooler weather will soon be here I’ve been wondering how to keep him in cloth diapers yet still keep his legs warm. These pants are just for knocking about the house, not for out on the town wear.

My solution? Fluffy-bottom Sweater Pants!

I took a pair of sweat pants (made from the sleeves of an old sweatshirt) that fit well and trace them on the sleeve of a retired sweater.

Cut this out adding 1/4 inch seam allowance along the crotch/butt edge. No  allowance is necessary at the bottom of the legs as the existing cuff makes hemming unnecessary. I also don’t need any allowance along the top as I will be adding fabric for the elastic casing later. Trace this leg onto the opposite sleeve and cut that out.

Using the upper part of one of the sleeves cut a wedge shape as tall as is possible. It can be trimmed down later. This will be added to the back of the pants to make them nice and roomy. Here is the tutorial where I first encountered this idea. Turn one leg inside out and pull it over the right side out leg so that the fabric is now right sides together.

Sew from the crotch up one side to create the front of the pants.

Cut into the pants on both sides of the unjoined back pieces so the resulting area into which you will sew the wedge shape is more of a U than a V.

Add the wedge shape. This is where you will cut it to fit. Match it along the waistband edge at the top of the pants. Trim the bottom corner so that it will fit into the space length wise. Leave an extra 1/4″ at the bottom before trimming for your seam allowance. Sew from the waist down.
Repeat with the other side of the wedge. Then sew over the seam at the bottom of the crotch back and forth a couple of times to close the bottom of the U and to reinforce it.
Zigzag (or serge) to finish your seams. Turn the pants right side out.
Now measure the width of the top of the pants and double the measurement and add 1/2″ for seam allowances. Pick a coordinating soft fabric for the waistband. (I’ve done this with both knit and woven fabric.) I used 1″ elastic so I cut my waistband fabric 2 1/2″ wide (1″ + 1/4″ seam allowance, doubled).
Sew both ends together to form a large loop.Fold the loop in half the narrow way, wrong sides together. Pin around the outside of the top of the pants, the open edge of the loop of fabric toward the top edge. Place the seam where you formed the loop in the center of the back of the pants.Sew all the way around. Zigzag or serge to finish the seam. Fold the waistband up into place. Top stitch so the finished seam lies flat on the inside. I found I had made my pants a little short to rise and cover the bottom area well so I repeated this step with an additional piece of fabric.

Use a seam ripper to open the inside of the waistband to insert the elastic. Measure around your child’s waist and add an inch to determine the length of your elastic.
Attach a large pin to one end of the elastic and feed through the waistband.
Sew back and forth where the elastic overlaps a few times. Sew up elastic opening in the waistband.

Catch toddler. Insert one foot into each leg of sweater pants. Pull up to fully cover cloth diapered bottom. Step back to fully appreciate the cuteness. You’re done!
Here are a couple other pairs of sweater pants that I’ve made.
Clothes Upcycling Projects


  1. Eileen said,

    October 18, 2011 at 7:54 am

    You are such an amazing mother and so creative!

  2. Jill said,

    October 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    These pants are AMAZING! Such a brilliant idea – and great that you have shown us all how to do it!

    I would love if you came and linked this project to my clothes upcycling project page. It has a long term linky, so your project would stay there for more than just the week of a usual linky. We have over 150 projects linked up now – some fantastic ideas It’s turning into a great resource for ideas and projects for old clothes!
    Do come and take a look!

  3. October 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    What a cute idea, I don’t have any little ones, but I do have some nieces and nephews, about the right age. I might have to make some for Christmas. And I have the perfect sweaters. We recently came into some FREE cashmere sweaters that have some holes in them. This idea will be perfect. I was looking for a way to repurpose those sweaters.

    • October 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      Wow free cashmere! If there are holes in the sleeves I could see some pretty cute patching. I’m glad you like the idea. Happy sewing!

  4. October 27, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    How cute! I love the sweater pants! 🙂

  5. October 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    These are amazing! I love the “catch toddler”! Thank you for linking this to Your Green Resource.

  6. November 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    […] is the original sweater. I used the sleeves for fluffy-bottom sweater pants and the third photo is what […]

  7. January 14, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    […] I’m wondering if maybe putting in a butt-wedge like I put in Eli’s Fluffy-bottom Sweater Pants would save these pants. (I think the skinnier legs would still work for […]

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