Monday, April 16, 2012

Upcycled Wool Longies Tutorial

Whether you use cloth diapers or not, upcycled wool longies (pants) are an adorable (and sustainable) clothing option for you little one.  I have stitched up about 5 pairs for Riggs at this point, and cannot wait to make more as he grows.

I made two pairs on Saturday night and took some photographs so that I could provide a tutorial for anyone who might be interested in making some of their own!  As usual, it's probably best to read the entire pattern before you start to cut and sew.

.....Upcycled Wool Longies Tutorial.....

First, you need to pick out a sweater.  I shop for them at the local thrift stores in the men's department.  If you want to felt the pants (which is a must if you are using them for soaker-style longies with fitted or prefold cloth diapers), you need the biggest sweater you can find, so that it will still be big enough after it shrinks.

If you do plan on felting it, you can wash it and dry it on hot.  I usually do this just once, but depending on your washer and dryer you might need to wash it on hot a few times.

In this case, I used an old (but still very nice!) cashmere sweater that Steve bought me a long time ago (2005, I think).  Cashmere does not work well for felting, but I washed it anyway on hot and dried it on high so that I can wash the pants as needed in the future without them shrinking.

If you want to felt them, you need to look for a tag like this:

Just making sure it is wool won't always work.  If it says "washable", it will not work very well for felting and using as a diaper cover.  You should look for sweaters that say "dry clean only".

Once you have washed and dried the sweater, you need to choose a pair of pants in the size and fit you would like the longies you are making to be.  You can also measure your child and base your longies off of that - it is totally up to you.  I have done both and they have worked very well either way.

Since the sweater I was using was a woman's size medium, I knew the sleeves would only be big enough to be legging-style longies, so I used a pair of 6-12 month size BabyGap pajama pants as a guide.

You need to lay them on the sleeve and leave at least a 1/2" seam allowance when you cut.

Once you have made your cuts, it should look something like this:

Next, you need to turn one sleeve/leg inside out.  It should look like this:

Then you take the other sleeve/leg, still turned right-side out, and stuff it into the other sleeve/leg.  That way the right-sides are facing each other inside the outer sleeve/leg.  The center seam should line up like this:

It is very important when lining the two sleeve/legs together to do so using the existing seam rather than the edges.  Otherwise when you are done sewing, you may have a very crooked seam going from the front of the longies to the back.

When you have lined the two sleeve/legs up as closely as possible, sew them together.

It should look like this (sorry it's a little blurry!):

Pull the sleeve/leg that was tucked on the inside out of the other sleeve/leg and it should look like this:

Turn the pants right-side out and they should look like this:

As you can see, I made these with a pretty high rise.  That is essential if you plan on using these as a diaper cover!  You need the waistband to rest against your babies skin above the diaper so that you don't have any wicking or leaks. 

I usually try to trim my waistband so that it has a higher rise in the back and is lower in the front, but that is optional, they will work just fine without doing so.

At this point, you have two options.  You can fold down the waistband and sew it nearly all the way around, leaving just enough space to thread elastic through and then sew it up and call them good.

Or you can add a contrasting waistband, which is what I did.  This is a good option if you made a mistake cutting or your sleeve wasn't long enough to begin with to have enough rise to cover a diaper correctly.

I only have pictures of the second method, so sorry in advance!

Take your contrasting wool remnant and cut it with enough room for a seam allowance - I left a 1/2":

Sew up the sides to make it a complete circle:

Then fold it in half:

Sew up the bottom of your folded wool fabric nearly all the way around, leaving enough of a gap so that you can thread your elastic through:

If you have trouble threading the elastic through, you can attach a safety pin to the end you are trying to thread to make it a little easier.  Once you are done, you need to sew up the gap you used to thread the elastic.

Now you are ready to attach the elasticized waist-band to the longies.

Now you need to place the waist-band around the longies, in line with the hem, right-sides facing each other.  It should look like this:

Pin them together once you have lined up all the seams how you want them, then you are ready to sew them together:

When you are done, fold the waistband up where it goes and you are finished!  Depending on the size of the sleeves, they can look a little wonky when they are first sewed up (like these, as you can see in the next picture) but don't worry, they look adorable on your little one (as you can see in the last picture)!

If you have any questions or notice anything that needs correction, please let me know.  Happy Monday!

{I am linked up with Nicole at Frontier Dreams for this post}


  1. I used to do this with my little ones, it's so awsome to see the things you did years ago still being done, this is where I break out into song "the circle of life" lol-so sweet :)

  2. I love seeing him in his longies!! They are so cute!

  3. Precious!! Those old wool sweaters have so much possibility!

  4. Oh I love repurposing thrift store sweaters into awesome longies! I have a few posts on my blog about this very thing!!

    I followed you over from KCCO and here is my project this week: My project this week:

  5. Followed to make my daughter a pair. And I am a very novice sewer. Thanks for posting! Now I need to figure out how to lanolize them...