little man pajamas made from a men’s shirt

A few weeks ago I made some jammies for my baby girl using a large men’s sweatshirt I’d purchased on clearance for $1. I hit up a few garage sales this past weekend and found a bunch of men’s shirts for 50 cents each, so I decided I’d try to use a similar process to turn one of the shirts into pajamas for my four year old.

They turned out great. I was able to use the sleeves for pant legs (which resulted in a nicely cuffed leg with no work on my part), the original hem for the bottom of the shirt, and the ribbed polo collar for nice cuffs on the sleeves (again with very little work). I love that refashioning often results in a more professional looking result than sewing from scratch, often for much less money and way less effort. Here’s the before:

I love stripes for little boys, so as soon as I saw this soft and sturdy polo I knew I’d made something for my little man. I started by cutting off the sleeves and tracing an existing pair of jammie pants. Notice how my existing pair is a little longer at the top? That’s because my sleeves weren’t quite long enough – but it’s no biggie, because instead of turning down the top to add an elastic casing, I added a yoga waistband, just like in the baby girl version. Does it look girly in the end result? Not at all.

The pants took about ten minutes because they only need three seams and don’t require hemming (check out the baby girl version for step-by-step photos). All you have to do is sew up the inseam, put the two legs together and sew up the rainbow, and sew on a yoga waistband. Fantastic!

Next, I cut out the bodice of the shirt, again using an existing shirt to get the right shape (remember to add seam allowance when cutting!)

I used the shirt to cut one half of the bodice, then flipped it over and cut down the other side.

I cut sleeves from the rest of the shirt fabric, again getting the shape from an existing shirt.

Shirt construction is pretty simple as well. Place front and back RST and sew shoulder seams.

Next, sew on your sleeves (step-by-step photos here). At this point I realized the shirt’s polo collar was the exactly same ribbing material used at the bottom of the sleeves (now pants), so I decided to cut up the collar and use it as a cuff at the bottom of my sleeves. This was so much simpler than hemming! I just place the collar on the right side of each sleeve and sewed along the raw edges, as shown.

Next, you can sew up the sleeve and down the body of the shirt (sorry, the cuff is not on in this photo but it should be!).

Because I started with a polo shirt that had a little longer hem in the back than the front, I sewed down the body but stopped about an inch above the front hem.

This allowed me to press the side seam open and then add blue detail stitching that you can see below – now the hem of the little shirt looks just like the polo hem of the big shirt – little details like this make your finished project look a little more professional.

After that all that was left was adding ribbing around the neck. I tried the shirt on my son to make sure the neck hole was large enough to go over his head. Then I grabbed the scraps of the leftover shirt and cut a long narrow strip all the way across, making sure it included one of the blue stripes. I folded my strip right along the stripe line and attached it to the neck, being sure to pull the ribbing tighter than I pulled the neckline of the shirt (step by step pics in this post).

Once the ribbing was attached, I pressed it to the top and went around the neckline again with a blue straight stitch – making sure to streth the entire thing as I sewed so that line of stitching wouldn’t be too tight when my son tried to put it on.

I wanted to taper the ribbing off at the back right in the middle, but I was too lazy to measure and it ended up crooked. That happens. Did I unpick the whole thing and put it together right? No. My son doesn’t mind and no one else will ever notice.

He actually thinks his new pajamas are pretty awesome.

Perfect for snuggling up with his monkey, Jim. (Jim has jammies too – along with a free pattern download for Build-a-Bear sized animals – click here!)

New, cute pajamas for 50 cents. I’m good with that.


  1. 1

    Tarah says

    Those are FABULOUS! I would have never in my wildest dreams thought of doing something like that. Its a shame I refuse to learn to sew!

  2. 2

    Mary Jo says

    What a great post! I enjoyed your step-by-step directions and definitely want to try this. I need to find a good shirt! 🙂 Also, love your photography!

  3. 7

    Gay Vaughan says

    Thank you Autumn for linking to my party! I wanted you to know how great I think these are and that I featured them on my party. Thanks again for joining.

  4. 9

    EMily says

    so cute!! I’ve done this too, so easy right!??? I’m starting a group pinterest board called Sewing for Kids… I’d love for you to join… I follow you, but you have to follow at least one of my boards for me to add you :o) I’m ntcreations on Pinterest… let me know if you want to join! Emily

  5. 10

    Lynn says

    Love this !!! You make it look so simple and they turned out great. So much better then store bought for sure !! I am a new sewer still learning but I a, definitely going to give this a try ! My husband has a bunch of polos that have been in the closet forever and never get worn. We both do not like getting rid of clothes (very much hoarders in that department) but now that I am taking up sewing I am glad I held on to the old clothes to repurpose. So many items I want to make and no need to buy fabric that I might ruin. Use the old clothes for learning ! Thanks for sharing this !


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