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)!

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