How to Sew Sweat Pants

    by Alexis Lawrence

    About the Author

    Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.


    Perfect for sports and fitness, comfortable and loose fitting, a pair of sweat pants is one of the most popular styles of all casual pants. Sweat pants available in most stores can be a little boring, usually in solid, dark colors with no more decoration than a professional sports teams logo. If you want to bring a little personal flair to your sportswear, sew sweat pants out of heavy knit fabric and customize them however you want them.

    Things You'll Need

    • Heavy knit fabric
    • Sweat pant pattern
    • Tape measure
    • Scissors
    • Pins
    • Sewing machine
    • Thread

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    Measure the person who will be wearing the pants. If you're making them for yourself, recruit a friend to measure you. Take measurements of the waist, hips, outside seam from waist to ankle and the inseam.

    Figure out the size of pattern you need to cut out by comparing your measurements to those on the pattern envelope. Cut the pattern to size.

    Spread your fabric out on a flat surface and place the paper pattern pieces on top. Refer to the pattern instructions for the best placement. Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric using straight pins. Carefully cut the fabric out around the outside edge of the pattern. Remove the paper pattern pieces but remember which fabric pieces are the front legs and which are the back legs.

    Follow the instructions that came with the pattern to sew the fabric pieces together. Use the seam allowance stated on the instructions and a narrow zigzag stitch. You will generally need to stitch each front piece to each back piece, with the right sides facing, along the inner leg. Then sew the crotch seam to join the two legs together. Lastly, sew the front and back leg pieces together along the outer leg.

    Try the pants on before adding any elastic. Alterations to sweat pants will be much easier before you add the elastic bands. If they are too loose, you can easily remove stitches and move the seam in slightly.

    Add the elastic. Measure around the waist to get the length of the elastic needed for the waistband. Cut the elastic 2 to 3 inches shorter than that measurement. This allows the elastic to stretch when the sweat pants are worn. Fold the waistband around the elastic on the inside of the sweat pants, fold it over again, pin the fabric in place and sew along the lower fold to make a channel for the elastic. Stretch the elastic as you sew, and try not to catch it with the needle. If you want ankle elastic, measure the ankle to get the amount of elastic needed. You can cut the ankle elastic slightly shorter than the ankle measurement or the same size. Sew it into the lower leg hems in the same way that you sewed the elastic into the waistband.

    • Your sweat pants don’t have to be a solid color. Try two different fabrics for a multi-colored look.
    • A twin sewing needle, which sews two parallel rows of connected stitches simultaneously, is a good alternative to a zigzag stitch for sewing knits.


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