Shirt Sleeves to Child’s Yoga Pants

It seems like it has been forever and a day since I’ve had a tutorial to offer. But today I’ve got a quick, easy and ever so useful sewing project for you, so let’s get started!

Eli has been needing some new warm pajama pants. He pretty much refuses to sleep with any covers over him at all so with cooler weather around the bend (or at least I dearly hope so, November and tomorrow we’re supposed to hit 91 degrees) I wanted to make him something nice and snuggly. I’ve been doing most of my sewing reusing fabric from old clothing, requiring limited expenditure to support my habit other than thread and elastic. By making yoga pants I don’t need any elastic at all, I can further make a dent in my overwhelming pile of clothing to be repurposed and I can make super comfy clothing at the same time.

Here’s how you can do it too.

1) Find an old knit long sleeved shirt from which you can use the sleeves as pant legs. The bigger your child the larger the shirt required. Eli is 2 1/2 and wears 3T pants and I was able to use men’s size large for these pants. I made one pair from a t-shirt and two from heavy sweat shirt material.

2) Place a pair of pants that fit your child well, folded in half, on a shirt sleeve. Trace around the crotch and across the waistband adding a little extra space for seam allowance. I didn’t measure but it was about 1/2″. I used an existing pair of yoga pants here so I folded down the waistband before tracing. If you are using a pair of pants with an elastic waistband to trace you may want to make the top of these pants 1/2″ shorter as you will be sewing the yoga waistband onto them later.

3) Turn one sleeve inside out and fit the right side out sleeve into it so they are now right sides together. Pin all the way around what will be the center seam. Sew with a zigzag stitch.

4) Turn the pants right side out and set aside. Now it is time to make your yoga waistband. Measure around your child’s waist, subtract 3″ and divide by 2. This is the width of the two pieces of cloth you will need to cut out to form the waistband. The height of the rectangles should be 15″ regardless of the size of the child. (A great source for this complete with diagrams is here at the Sew Mama Sew blog where you will find a tutorial for a yoga waistband skirt.) Using ribbing or a super stretchy t-shirt cut out the two rectangles making sure the stretch goes from side to side.

5) Sew up each side with a zigzag stitch. Press seams open.

6) Fold the tube in half so that the two raw edges are matching up and the seam allowance is sandwiched in the middle.

7) Slide the tube over the pants so that all three raw edges match up along the top of the pants, and the folded edge of the tube is hanging down. Because the tube will be more narrow than the top of the pants, stretch the tube so you can pin it around the top of the pants. I find it helps to pin the two sides first at the side seams of the waistband. Then stretch it out from side to side and pin the center points at the center seams of the pants. Then pin twice between each of the first four pins.

8) Sew all the way around with a zigzag stitch.

9) Flip waistband up and top stitch all the way around with a straight stitch.

If the sleeves you chose to use were in good condition you’re done!

If however they were like the sleeves of the two sweatshirts I used the cuffs will be ratty and dirty.

10) Remove the cuff from each sleeve.

11) Use one of the cuffs to cut measure the amount of fabric to use for your new cuffs. I used the same shirt I used to make the waistband. (This shirt gave enough fabric for two waistbands and four cuffs.) Open up the old cuff to find the length of fabric for the height you want enough so that you can double the fabric over as you did the waistband.

12) Sew up the side of the new cuff and attach it to the leg the same way you attached the waistband. (Steps 5-9)

Now you are done… the pants are ready to be worn!

I’ve been featured!

Creating my way to Success

Here’s where I’m linking up:


Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sundayjembellish clothes upcycling page


Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little Birds,  C.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Sarahndipities The Cure for the Common Monday


At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkie,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin,

Heart and Soul Blog Hop

Tip Junkie handmade projects


Sew Much AdoFrugally Sustainable,  Lil’ LunaSomeday CraftsWhimsy

WednesdayWhatcha Work Up Wednesday


Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderAnything Goes Linky Party,


Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805,


The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal


  1. Pam said,

    November 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Fabulous way to reuse old t-shirts and sweaters!!! They look like they would be lovely and comfortable, too.

    • November 5, 2012 at 6:46 am

      Thank you! They do look comfy… I’m contemplating making a pair (waistband, not sleeve legs!) for myself as I hear the idea works well for maternity wear and it seems like I’m hiking up many of my maternity pants what just use wide elastic every 3 minutes or so.

  2. November 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Clever idea! I love the way you recycle clothes!

  3. Christine said,

    November 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Great tutorial! Those look super comfy, I bet he loves them! Thanks for the comments on my Thanksgiving shirts 🙂 I hope to get a silloutte someday but for now the Cricut does just fine 😉

    • November 5, 2012 at 6:43 am

      I’m glad you liked the tutorial. He does like wearing them and yesterday kept on a pair all afternoon. I guess out of the house they look enough like sweat pants it’s not obvious I was letting my kid run around in public in his pj bottoms!

  4. November 5, 2012 at 2:03 am

    So SO cute! Well done you 🙂 x

  5. November 5, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Great tutorial. Love any upcycling ideas we can get! Thanks for sharing.

  6. ReStitch Me said,

    November 5, 2012 at 6:33 am

    So clever! Eli looks so comfortable and cute! 🙂 Nicely done!

  7. Maysem said,

    November 5, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Those pants are awesome! Great tutorial. Karen you are the queen of repurposing!

  8. November 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a sweet note. I hope you’ll get to try the pear crisp with smart balance… I’ve never tried that so I really can’t give you a thought on that. Sure hope it will work for you.

  9. November 6, 2012 at 9:16 am

    You made it look so easy. I just started learning to sew and my machine tears the thread all the time. Can’t figure why and I am getting so frustrated with it… Anyway… This is a project I am going to try while I fix my problem. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • November 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

      That’s exactly how I learned (am learning) to sew… by following other people’s tutorials that I find online. It would be nice to sit down with somebody knowledgable in person at times though, wouldn’t it? Especially when your machine doesn’t behave itself and you don’t know why. My guess about your machine tearing the thread is perhaps you have a tension problem or the inside of the machine may be dirty with old lint. But really I’m no expert. Have you had the machine serviced at all recently? It can be expensive to do (in these parts around $100) but especially when I began with an older hand me down machine I found that getting it cleaned and adjusted solved the problems I had and it was then a lot smoother sewing with a lot less frustration! Oh and also, if you are sewing with knit fabric, get a needle for stretchy fabrics (ball point needle) or your needle can perforate your fabric and your garments will fall apart.

      • November 6, 2012 at 10:19 am

        thank you so much for your advices. My mother in-law can sew (I got the machine from her), and my mom is/was a professional seamstress (but she lives in Poland); she helped me a lot with the machine though… but she can’t do much with the recent problem through the Internet.
        I would guess the machine is dirty. when I got it is was pretty dusty and greasy. I cleaned what I could. Well, I think I asked around about service place… thank you so much 🙂

      • Linne said,

        November 10, 2012 at 11:18 am

        There are lots of women in their 60s and older who love to share their knowledge. You might try putting an ad in a home for elders or in a local paper. Many of them are online, too. Or ask friends if they have a relative who might want to share their knowledge and expertise.

    • Linne said,

      November 24, 2012 at 11:35 am

      The problem might be the thread itself, Ewa. Or sometimes the tension somewhere along where the thread runs from spool to needle is too tight. Good luck with this!

      • November 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        thank you for all your advice. it looks like the tension was the problem. I changed it and the machine works perfect now!

      • November 25, 2012 at 4:50 am

        I’m so glad to hear that your machine is working well now. 🙂 Happy sewing!

  10. November 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Such cute pants – and a lovely clear tutorial too!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  11. Elise said,

    November 6, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Soo cute! Would love it if you linked up on my blog hop Also let me know if you’d like to follow each other!

  12. navywifeypeters said,

    November 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    cool pants! I’d love for you to share this at my link party Submarine Sunday. It’s open until Friday @ 11:59pm. I hope you’ll stop by!


  13. Linne said,

    November 10, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I love this tutorial! Nothing like up-cycling, is there?
    ~ Linne
    A Random Harvest (WordPress)

    • November 14, 2012 at 6:48 am

      Thank you, Linne! And that is such a good idea that you posted in your other comment about just putting the word out there in the community of older women that one would like a sewing buddy to learn from. I actually live at the edge of a township that only accepts people moving in who are 55 year of age or older, so I’m sure there would be a retiree with the time and desire if I were to look.

      • Linne said,

        November 24, 2012 at 11:35 am

        Yes, and those of us who are older (not OLD, you understand!! LOL) often love to share what we know, esp. if we have that teacher gene… I used to be a Lewiscraft manager and would even teach people to knit just standing in the middle of the store. Was good for sales, too! The other thing is, not everyone lives near children or grandchildren, so that is missing in their lives; and not all kids, grandkids, want to learn handwork, anyway. So it could be a match made in heaven for both sides! Hope you find a nice ‘Auntie’ to help you out when you are ready…

  14. November 11, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Oh, these are cute Karen. I wished I would’ve known this when my children were younger. Their legs are so long now at 6 and 8. Great idea. Thanks so much for linking up at Thriving on Thursday.

    Anne xx

    • November 11, 2012 at 7:31 am

      Thank you, Anne. I suppose you could still make simple jersey pants and then use the tutorial for the waist band, but to get long enough fabric you’d probably have to buy it at this point. It kinda defeats the whole “I sewed these for free” fun of it all, but you’d still get comfy pants customized to your kids. I’m enjoying the fabric repurposing aspect while I can with Eli because he’s very tall for his age and is growing so fast!

  15. November 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    What a great idea! Thank you for sharing it on Your Green Resource. I picked it as my post to feature this week. 🙂

  16. November 14, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    […] tutorial on how to upcycle shirt sleeves into children’s yoga pants by Folk […]

  17. pnissila said,

    November 25, 2012 at 9:02 am

    What a great idea! I love the term “upcycle,” too.

    And thanks for “liking” my post, “The Gift.” I think we all “need a little Christmas now,” like the song from the musical Aunty Mame says. And kids bring us right back to the essence of this gift-giving season.

    And what a great sewing site you have. When my daughters were growing up, I sewed like a maniac…and they were so patient trying things on. And then when they were middle-school-aged, they insisted on wearing their own very specific and very different styles, and I couldn’t do such things as sew matching outfits anymore…

    Blessings and cheers,
    Phyllis Nissila

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