Monday, August 29, 2011

Easy- On Potty Training Pants: Tutorial and Pattern


Yes, it's here!  (WARNING! Picture heavy post ahead!)

To those who knew me in my pre- nursing school college days: These underpants were made from the back side of my Beanstock 2005 T-shirt. :-D


This tutorial is for size 3T potty training pants with 2 seams that go front to back, instead of a seam at each side- this allows for easy addition of padding in the middle section (which really is a must if you don't want to be cleaning up tons of puddles off the floor during potty training).  You are welcome to resize the pattern for your needs, but if you use stretchy fabric and adjust the elastic in the waistband for your child, this pattern will fit a somewhat smaller or larger child comfortably.  In addition, these underpants are designed to be roomy, and have plenty of wiggle space in the leg holes, making it easier for kids to pull pants up and down.  Again, use a soft, stretchy knit fabric, the stretchier the better.


Let's get right to it, shall we?

You will need:
-Easy- On Potty Training Pants pattern- print all 3 pages, cut out, and tape pieces A and B together as marked on the pattern.
-Soft stretch knit cotton- try re-purposing a soft old T-shirt to make this a really frugal project!  If it is new fabric, prewash!
-Batting, heavy fleece or other absorbent material
-1/4 or 5/8" elastic
-Your regular sewing supplies- sewing machine, serger (if you have one, don't sweat it if you don't), thread, scissors, pins, etc.

Click this picture to go to the Google Doc PDF.  Click "file" and you can download and/or print.

Don't worry- your pattern pieces will look much nicer than mine- this is what pattern development looks like...

Lay out your pattern pieces and pin them to the fabric.  It is important that for each piece, the grain is running up and down, or in other words the stretch goes from side to side.  Make sense?  If the grain runs the other way the underpants won't stretch properly or be nice and roomy.  That would be sad. :(  (I really must have potty training on my mind because I sound like I am talking to my little guy that I am potty training... "Are you going to keep your pants dry today?  Good boy.  No wetting pants, ok?  That would be sad.")


After you cut your fabric pieces (2 of piece AB and 2 of piece C- just make sure you cut with right sides of the fabric together if there is a print.  If the fabric is the same on both sides, then you don't need to worry about it.) you need to cut the padding.  Use whatever type of batting you want, or heavy weight fleece, or whatever you have on hand that is absorbent.  Fold pattern piece AB on the dotted lines and cut it out.  Cut one or two- depending on how much absorbency you want.  I want enough absorbency that I don't have to clean up puddles on the floor, but not so much that it acts and feels like a diaper to my child.


I bet you thought you were done cutting fabric, right?  Wrong!  You need to cut some fabric strips to bind the waistband and leg holes.  You can use ribbing that is bought from the fabric store, or you can cut up an old ribbed shirt or tank top, or just use the exact same fabric you're using for the rest of the underpants- it works great either way.  I found the easiest way to do this was to use my rotary cutter with the ruler- it saved me tons of time, but that doesn't mean you can't do it with scissors.  You just need a little more patience.  Cut strips that are 2 or 2 1/2 inches wide- your preference.  You could do all the same, or 2" for the legs, and 2 1/2" for the waistband.  It really is whatever you want.  The approximate lengths you will need are 22 inches for the waist, and 16 inches for each leg.  It may be more or less depending on the size of your child and your sewing preferences.  More on that later.


Sandwich the batting between the two long pieces (piece AB) so the curves line up as closely as possible.  If your fabric has a pattern or "right" side, make sure the right sides are facing outward.  Pin the layers together.  You can skip this next step if you want, but it makes it easier and faster if you take a fabric pencil or pen and a ruler, and mark a line that goes across the fabric the "skinny way" right below the edge of the batting. Do this on both sides.  Then sew the layers together in a straight line on each edge, making sure that you're catching the batting as you sew.


Now pin the side pieces to the front only (the top) of the middle piece (AB), with right sides together.  Check the pattern pieces to make sure you're lining up the correct edges.  The pattern pieces are labeled in each corner to help ensure that the fabric is pieced correctly.  So, on pattern piece C (the side piece) you will see in the top left corner "R1/L6" which means that when you are sewing the Right side of the underpants on (the child's right), that corner should match up with corner 1 on piece AB, and when it is the Left side, it should match up with corner 6 on piece AB.  Each corner is marked similarly- just check that the numbers match up when you pin it together.  Once you actually start doing it it will make sense.  See the picture 2 pictures down if you need a visual on what this should look like after it's sewn.  Serge or sew the edges.  Serged edges give a nice, polished look to the finished product, but you can definitely sew, zigzag for reinforcement, and trim.


Now you have a piece that kind of looks like an elephant head (see the ears and the trunk?!).  The next step is to take the binding strips you cut earlier and cover the raw edges of the leg holes.  This will work basically like bias tape.  Pin right sides together, starting from the edge of the curve on the side piece to the end of the curve in the middle of the long piece (see picture below).  If you want the leg holes to fit a bit more snugly (but not tight), then just stretch the binding a bit as you pin it- making sure not to stretch the other piece of fabric.


Here is the same thing from the other side- this is the "wrong" side, and you can see where the fabric is pinned together.  Baste together (~1/2" seam), and repeat for the other leg hole.


We are going to fold the binding around the leg hole just like we would with bias tape, only we aren't going to mess with ironing.  It is not hard as long as you pin well!  Here are the steps: 1. Start at the edge- either edge.  2. Fold the sewn edge into the middle of the binding strip.  3. Fold the other edge into the middle of the strip, so the two edges meet.  4. Sandwich the folded strip over the raw edge of the leg hole.  Look at the pictures below for a better idea of how to do this.


Do this all around the leg hole.  I would pin every inch or inch and a half or so.  Check the other side and make sure that the raw edge is fully encased.  Do the same process on the other leg hole.  It sounds laborious, but it probably only takes 5 minutes total.


 Carefully topstitch over both leg holes.  The idea is to sew close to the folded edge, but not so close that you don't catch the fold on the back side. 


Now fold up the back piece (the part that looks like the elephant's trunk) so that right sides are together, pin, and serge (or sew and zig zag) one side piece onto the back piece.  It doesn't matter which side, just so long as you only sew one. Pull the fabric or make whatever adjustments you need to make sure the the leg hole ends meet up evenly.  It might look a little wonky in 2D, but it will work out when your child is wearing it.


Now the waistband is one long piece, so you are going to repeat the binding process you did for the leg holes on the waistband.  Pin right sides together, stretching the waistband binding very slightly as you pin.  Baste together.


Fold the waistband binding as shown above for the leg hole binding, and pin. 


Topstitch all the way across the waistband to match your sewing on the leg holes.  These are really starting to look like training underpants- yay!


Thread your elastic through the waistband using a safety pin.  Tacking the ends in place once you are finished will make things a lot easier, but it is not essential.


Now, turn the underpants inside out, and pin the remaining raw edges together, right sides together. Serge edges, or sew/ zig zag.


If you want, stitch the seam allowance down on the waistband binding (where the ends and elastic are poking out- see below on the picture).  This makes the underpants more comfortable to wear.  You could do the same thing on the seams on the leg holes if you want.


Ta- da!  You have a very nice- looking, comfortable, and of course functional pair of training pants!


Hopefully you can  use things you already have (fabric scraps or old T shirts) and save money you would be spending on more expensive cloth training pants or disposables.


Add variety to your child's training pants collection by using different fabrics, or contrasting color trims, applique designs, or contrast stitching.  Do you have questions, comments, corrections? Email me: rochelle@homesweethomebodies.net.


If you like this tutorial, or if you use my pattern, I would love it if you would leave a comment below.  As always, my tutorials and patterns I share on my blog are free for you to use for personal use because I want to share with you!  Please don't redistribute, copy, or sell items made from my patterns without written permission from me.  I love features, and you are welcome to use one or two pictures from my tutorial with a link back.

Good luck sewing (and potty training)!

45 comments:

  1. Amazing! Have marked this tute off - thank you for posting such great instructions and pictures!
    Lusi :)

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  3. What a great tutorial! I would love for you to share at my party!

    http://www.cherishedbliss.com/2011/08/craft-and-tell-no-20.html

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  4. That is such a great idea! Training pants are so expensive! This would save so much, and you can make them look how you want! Thanks for sharing! I am pinning this one!

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  5. This is great!! You know what's so funny, my daughter is potty training too, and I just made her potty training panties! (Great minds think alike huh?) I'll be posting my little girl version next Monday, and I'll link to your post for anyone that has little boys who are potty training as well :) Thanks for sharing!

    www.jensownroad.blogspot.com

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  6. What a great tutorial! These are awesome and so timely for me as our 2 1/2 year old is potty training right now.

    I would love to have you link up with Creative Me Monday, it's open M-Sat. Here's the link:

    http://www.thesoutherninstitute.com/2011/08/creative-me-monday_28.html?utm_source=BP_recent

    Hope to see you there!

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  7. Once my boys are of potty-training age, I will have to remember this one, so I am pinning you!

    Great tutorial, b/c those disposable training pants are $$$! {I cloth diapered for over 3 years. I miss them}

    If you have a moment today, please share this with my readers @Creative Juice Thursday. Hope to see you there!

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  8. So funny - I linked right beside you with a potty training tip! I love this tutorial. http://cookieandclaire.blogspot.com/2011/08/potty-training-tip.html

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  9. How did you know I was potty training my little boy right now, and its not going so well :(. Thank you so much for linking up to Upcycled Awesome! I really appreciate it.

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  10. I have pinned this tutorial. My 3 yr old is finally ready to potty train and these will come in handy. Thanks for the great Tutorial!

    If you have a minute stop by and enter my Giveaway for a custom made pinstripe skirt.

    http://theorchardinbloom.blogspot.com/2011/08/pinstripe-skirt-giveaway.html

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  11. Awesome! I've been looking for a good pattern. My son is a size 2T but I might try just adding snaps to the front instead of stitching it up. Thanks so much!

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  12. Great tutorial! Love it, thanks for sharing.

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  13. I made a pair for my LO last night! She's only 14 months, but we let her go on the toilet, and she often stays with a dry diaper all afternoon (as long as we go to the bathroom a few times) Training pants will be so much easier!!! An excellent pattern. One comment though, I found that when I printed the pattern, I needed to make the waistband of the front approx. 1 cm higher to make it line up properly with the side pieces. They're in the wash now, and I can hardly wait to try them on her today!!!

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  14. Thank you sooo much, I have a 20 month old and have had the hardest time finding training pants that aren't just plain white! I'm very much looking forward to trying to make these, thanks again.

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  15. Thank you all! I have responded individually to your comments where possible, but I want to respond here to Jeni's comment: I checked my pattern, and I see what you mean. The front piece is meant to be lower so there isn't as much bunching in the finished product. However, I tweaked the side pattern piece right before I published it, and it was too long- so I have fixed it and the updated pattern is now available. Thanks so much for letting me know! I really appreciate comments from people who have tried the pattern! :D

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  16. I cant wait to give these a try. Have you tried backing the absorbent part with PUL for less leakage?

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  17. @Sarah: I can't find an email address for you, so I'm responding here- I have thought about using PUL but I decided not to so that they would behave more like underpants and less like a diaper. Next time I potty train, though, I think I will make a few with PUL for the very beginning stages of potty training when accidents are unavoidable, and I just want to introduce what underpants feel like (but don't want the mess).

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  18. Just made a trial pair using an old t-shirt. I used the neck band of the shirt for the waist band and cut 2" strips for the leg bands. I think on my next pair, I'll used 2.5" strip for the waist as the next band turned out a bit narrow, even for 1/4" elastic. These are going to be MUCH more cost effective than buying retail for my twin grandbabies. Thanks so very much for sharing.

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  19. Thanks for the pattern. I have an 18th month old I am just starting. We need more pants and they are hard to find in the store. Thanks for the up-cycled idea as well. I will be using old t-shirts and cloth diapers....hopefully.

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  20. I have a very petite 18 month old that is starting to potty train. Yours is the best pattern and tutorial I've found! Do you have any suggestions on how to size down your pattern for her? Its much to big as she's only in a 12 month size clothes. Thanks!

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  21. Thank you! I have all my pieces cut out and will sew it all together after the kiddos go to bed tonight :)

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  22. Oh this is wonderful! I've been wondering where I can find something like these to use with my 3 yo son, been trying to toilet train him since March 2011 (he's really stubborn). I'll use some of hubby's stained t-shirts & make these for him then I'll worry less about puddles & mess. Thanks so much!

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  23. So perfect! I've been gearing up to do more serious potty training with my son and these will take away some of my worry of mess everywhere! Thanks a ton :)

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  24. This is great, can you give tips on how to make this size smaller and what about using a prefold for the middle.

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    1. The tip I have shared with others with this question is to try just printing the whole pattern at about 80% instead of 100% (you can adjust it in Adobe reader, or use a copy machine). You can also cut the binding that goes around the leg and waist holes a bit shorter so that you have to stretch it more as you sew it on, and that will make them more snug- and of course make the waist elastic smaller. You still want them to be very loose for potty training so they are easy for the child to pull on and off independently. Good luck!

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  25. Thank you so much for this post - my 2.5 yo is training and is actually wearing a pair alomost exactly like them that were handed down to him from his 20 yo - yes is said 20 yo cousin. they had been stored lovingly in the ceder chest for the "next" one well it took a while. These had been sewn by a Tante (Aunt) and no one could find the the pattern - FOUND IT!!!!! Thank you again. My 5 yo was reading over my shoulder and has already started deciding what cool fabric to use for his brother.

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    1. Awesome! And you're welcome- so happy I could help! Good luck! :D

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  26. I am working with your pattern right now but I have a question. I cut the leg strips to 16 inches but they are about 3 inches longer then the leg itself? I didn't even stretch it...I am going to go ahead with it but did I do something wrong?

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    1. this happened to me too and i did not stretch the fabric. I just cut off the extra after pinning the legs and waist. I also need to make them larger my son is 3 and very tall for his age they were very snug. Fun project:-)

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  27. Thanks for this. I am just starting the potty training process with my daughter, and she loves the underwear she has, but needs more, and they are so expensive! I will have to give this a try with my old scraps. I wish I had seen this yesterday before I made a trip to donate my stuff to value village!

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  28. I am so excited to start on this project!!! Thank you for sharing!!!!!

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  29. Thanks for the great post on your blog, it really gives me an insight on this topic.
    math help online

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  30. I literally just finished sewing the elastic in two new pair of training pants for my girlie. VERY excited to try these out! Thanks for the pattern and tutorial.

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  31. Thank you so much for posting this pattern. My little guy is almost two and showing some signs of readiness. I made his cloth diapers - why not try making training pants too? This tutorial will help me a lot. Thanks!

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  32. Made my little guy up a pair last night. My waist band was too narrow and I couldnt find a safety pin so I just used Fold over elastic. They fit him great and he loves them! Going to make up a few more pairs this weekend! Thank you for the awesome tutorial and free pattern!

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  33. I'm making these today for my little girl who is devastated at losing her girly night-time diapers. I am going to provide some special night-time panties for her!

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  34. My Grand Kids sometimes wet at night, therefore they wear pull-ups at night. I am going to make your training pants, but use waterproof fabric as the outside layer. TA-DA! Homemade pull-ups!

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  35. THANK YOU!!! YOU are a angel!!!

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  36. I have purchased many patterns for toddler training pants and this is the best hands down! I have seven grand babies under four years of age, and I have made this pattern many times. Thank you so much!

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  37. I spotted this tutorial on Pinterest, and I have to say it looks AMAZING! My 9th kiddo is just about ready to be trained, so I'm going to get on this project ASAP. I used pull-ups with a few of my kids, and they are a waste of time and money. The only thing that has ever worked for my kids was cloth training pants. I'm so glad I found your tutorial... and just in time! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  38. I just spent $60 on 3 pairs of training pants.... I am not a wonderful sewer but you make it look so easy, so I hope this saves me from spending more!! Thanks so much! I love the fact that it's a project that let's me reuse what I already have :)

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  39. I just spent $60 on 3 pairs of training pants.... I am not a wonderful sewer but you make it look so easy, so I hope this saves me from spending more!! Thanks so much! I love the fact that it's a project that let's me reuse what I already have :)

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