Newborn Props: Upcycled Pants- { San Diego Newborn Photographer }

I have been working on this one for a few weeks now and after 3 different templates, I think I created one that works just perfect.  It can easily work for newborns 7-9 pounds.  It will greatly depend on the type of fabric/sweater you are using though.  The great thing about these upcycled pants is you can easily adjust as you pose the baby for each shot.  Just some pulls here, tucks & pushes there and the pants can be molded to each baby!  So without any further ado, my upcycled pants tutorial is now ready to go!  Grab your Good Will and thrift store finds, get them washed & sanitized, take out your sewing machine, and lets get going!

Materials Needed:

  • 1 old sweater (preferably something with a nice stretch to it)
  • pins
  • scissors
  • my newborn pants template printed & cut from a LEGAL sized piece of paper (TEMPLATE FOUND HERE: www.corinanielsen.com/corina/CNIELSEN-PANTS.zip)
  • coordinating yarn or trim (can be used as an optional belt)
  • sewing machine

STEP 1:

Cut the bottom portion of your sweater off.  You will need it to be at least 11 1/2″ in height.  I normally just make a straight cut just under the arms.

STEP 2:

Now cut along the side seams of the front and back.  You should now have TWO pieces of fabric/sweater made from the front and back of your sweater.

STEP 3:

If you are using a very large sweater, you may be able to get away using one side to create the pants, but in most cases you will need both.

In any case, take one of your pieces and fold it in HALF with RIGHT sides together.  Make sure you line up the BOTTOM edges (this will be cuff of your pants so you want this straight).

STEP 4:

Grab my printed & cut template and pin to the fabric/sweater making sure the fold (straight) side is lined up with the fold in the sweater. Also make sure that the bottom edges are lined up as well.  If your sweater has a pattern on it, also ensure that it is straight.

STEP 5: 

Cut around the perimeter of the template.

Repeat STEPS 3-5 with the other piece of fabric/sweater to make the other side of the pants.

This is what your TWO pieces should look like after you take off the template.

STEP 6:

Now its time to pin the two pieces together and sew.  With RIGHT sides facing together, match everything up as best as you can.  Depending on how straight you have cut and followed the template, things should pretty much be exact:)

Pin UPPER half of the pieces together.

STEP 7:

Sew upper pinned area on each side.

I used a plain straight stitch & 1/2 seam.  I like to use a slightly larger seam allowance on these since sweaters and thicker materials like these seem to shift a bit while I sew sometimes… using a bigger seam allowance will just ensure that you get through both pieces of fabric and not have any gaps.  Once you have sewn the upper seams together, just trim off the excess bulk and threads.

STEP 8: 

Here is the magical part… take the pants and shift them to the right (or left) until the seam is in the center…. you should see the pants “shape” now!

Now pin the BOTTOM seam together and again, ensure that the bottom edges of the cuff are lined up straight.

Once you have it sewn together, trim off the excess fabric/bulk and threads.

STEP 9:

This step has a few different options you can choose from so after you make a couple of these pants, you can decide how “perfect” you want them & which option works better for you and your style.

OPTION 1- You can simply fold down the upper edge/waist of the pants, pin and sew.  This will leave a raw edge on the inside of the pants, but you won’t really see it at all.  This is just the easier, lazier, and non perfect  option:) 

OPTION 2- Fold the upper edge of the waist down about 1/4″.  Then fold that over again another 1/2″-1″ down.  This will hide the raw edge and give the waist a nice finished edge inside AND outside.

I chose the lazy option for these particular pants because my sweater was super thick to start with.  Having to fold the waist down twice would have just made them a bit to bulky for me but for thinner sweaters, I like the finished waist of OPTION 2!

Pants are now sewn and more or less ready to go!  Here is a view with them still inside out.

STEP 10:

You could easily leave the pants as is and simply tuck the waist a bit when you pose baby to get rid of any extra bulk, but you can also add a little belt to tighten things up as well.  Grab some trim, extra fabric, or yarn and a large yarn needle.

This part may look and be a little tricky, but once you have threaded your trim or yarn onto your needle, grab the waist and put the needle through approximately 1″ of the top layer (just the front facing layer) and through to the other side.  Continue the 1″ spaces, going through only the top layer until you have gone around the entire waist.

The most important thing to remember is to try and space the gaps so that it looks nice and uniform and leaves an even space in the front where you will tie it together.

And here they are in action… decided not to use the “belt” though for the tutorial sample!

And a couple of other sets I have made in the past couple of weeks…

How easy was that?  You can literally make a pair of these pants in less than 10 minutes once you get the hang of everything!  SO easy, SO cheap, and there is never an excuse for not having new props to use or not being able to afford them!  Sweaters at Good Will range from $2.99-$5.99 or so and from one sweater, you should be able to produce at least a pair of pants, leg warmers, and possibly a hat.  I’m ALWAYS guaranteed 3 pieces from any of my Good Will sweaters.

I hope you have found this helpful and are now able to create some new fun props for your newborn photography!  Enjoy!

Nancy O - February 18, 2013 - 12:18 pm

So nice of you to post this when so many people are really overcharging so much for such things!!

Paige - February 18, 2013 - 1:34 pm

Thank you SO much for sharing! You have saved my life as I have a newborn shoot in the morning and am in desperate need of “little boy pants!” Your instructions are simple and easy to follow. Thank you again. These tutorials are wonderful! :)

Jh - February 18, 2013 - 5:53 pm

Hi Corina, I love these. Great idea, i cant wait to make some. I’m am a gdesigner and moved into photography too, had a break for a bit due to having a kiddy, but trying to jump back out there with a new website and blog and love the fact you have advice and tips to share. Very giving. I am going to make some of these ASAP. Thanks so much. J xxx

Rachel - February 18, 2013 - 10:31 pm

Thanks for sharing with us :-) this is such a fantastic idea. I love upcycling and the trousers/pants idea is perfect :-)

CB - February 19, 2013 - 2:31 pm

I too have been trying to perfect the ‘newborn photo prop’ pant for the last couple weeks. These look great! but have you found an effective way to minimize the # of seams?

I created a pattern myself that has just an inseam and bum seam (no front or side seams) but I like the look of no front & bum seam better – what I don’t understand about that design is that if you sew the pants that way you end up with a 2D design and not really any ‘space’ for the crotch… it seems as though this is how most of those expensive ones online are made but I don’t have a newborn to try the ones I’ve made on and they look weird… lol

Sorry for the long winded post lol – but it seems we are working on the same thing so I would love your feedback!!

Karmel - February 20, 2013 - 9:08 pm

Thank you do much for this!! You are so kind in sharing. I don’t have a sewing machine though:/ can I do it by hand? Do you have tutorial for making a hat in the same sweater?

Melissa Wollman - February 21, 2013 - 1:26 pm

Corina! You are fabulous!! Thanks again for another great tutorial! I’m going to attempt to make a pair today with a matching hat from your other tutorial, for my baby girl who is due in July! I can’t wait to photograph my new little princess!!! <3

Nicole - February 21, 2013 - 5:49 pm

This is AWESOME thanks!

Rebecca Koester - February 26, 2013 - 3:58 pm

do you also have directions on how to make the hat and leg warmers? if so will you plese email me them at rkphotography@live.com. thanks so much

Dayna Lyn - February 27, 2013 - 8:26 am

Thank you so much for all the wonderful tutorials!! I can’t wait to try them out :)

If you don’t mind me asking…..where do you get your furs from that you used in these photos?
Thanks again!

Robyn - February 27, 2013 - 9:38 pm

I’ve wanted some if these for so looooong – but the prop makers charge soooo much!! I can totally make this! With your help! You RULE!!!

Joey - March 3, 2013 - 7:40 am

Thank you so much for sharing this! Can’t wait to try this!

Lexilu - March 4, 2013 - 6:04 am

This pattern is amazing! You can make a pair of pants in 30 minutes. Thank you for making it available to us!

Karen Kulin - March 7, 2013 - 12:08 am

Thank you so much!! You are such a sweetheart to put this together to share .

Tonya - March 14, 2013 - 6:01 pm

What size paper did you use for the pattern, is it regular size copy paper?

Julia - April 2, 2013 - 6:50 am

Hi;

I was wondering what is the width of the template? I printed it but the width doesn’t seem to look right.

Thanks so much for sharing. :)

aliesha - April 4, 2013 - 9:23 am

LOVE LOVE THIS! !!! THANKS SO MUCH

Anita Komorowska - April 4, 2013 - 12:36 pm

Thank you so much for sharing! :)

christa - April 5, 2013 - 9:01 pm

Can i just reach through this computer and kiss your face off?? THANK YOU so much for your wonderful tutorials :) you have made my day!

Pam Miller - April 26, 2013 - 8:49 am

These sets are adorable. I especially love the peach colored one.

[...] baby of the house. I also tried my hand at upcycling…and made the cream pants with the help of Corina Nielsen’s Tutorial  which you can find here I also upcycled the blue pants using another tutorial that I found on [...]

Natalie - May 2, 2013 - 10:55 am

Thanks so much for sharing. What size sweater do I look for? Adult Small>? Also how do I make the hat?

Tammy - May 26, 2013 - 9:47 am

I printed the pattern but it doesn’t look right. It says 11.5″ but is is only coming out to about nine on the paper when printed. Please advice what you made the template in so maybe I have that software to print it correctly?

Thanks!

Melinda - May 26, 2013 - 10:50 am

Easy to follow tutorial!! Although I didn’t have legal paper to print off the template so I tried to just wing it and the legs came out good, I couldn’t fit my newbie ( and he was tiny) into the bum of the pants. I’m sure I guessed wrong on the template measurements…. Would you mind sharing the dimensions for those that can’t print it out big?

Thanks so much!!

Rhonda Locker - May 27, 2013 - 3:30 am

This is awesome, just what I have been looking for. I’ll be hitting the Op Shop at 9am when they open and hope to have this made for the little girl I have coming in at 10:30. Thank you so much for sharing. I am just starting up my business while completing my final year of study, I make what ever I can. Thank you once again

Isabel - June 13, 2013 - 8:51 am

I accidentally discovered this post and tutorial. I have always wanted to do this project(thrifted sweaters are all piled up ready to be cut). I just don’t know how on earth to start! So I bought a pair of the tiniest pajamas from a baby shop as pattern. But still I wasn’t sure if this is a correct strategy. A’nd then I discovered this post and this great photographer/artist – perfect timing! So happy.I’m doing it right now. Thanks so much for sharing Corina. I’m a new fan! :)

Gaming PC - August 3, 2013 - 11:49 am

That’s a preatty good article you have posted on your blog.You wrote your article with a good manners.I like all your blog what you posted.

Amanda - August 7, 2013 - 2:36 pm

Love this! Thank you for sharing! What part is the matching hat made from then? :)

Angela - August 12, 2013 - 6:25 pm

This is brilliant!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I cannot wait to try those! You save me a lot of money! Angela Butler – Ft. Campbell, KY – Newborn Photographer

kristin - November 28, 2013 - 7:31 pm

thank you so much for posting this… the pattern comes out very small do i have to copy it bigger? it does only measure about 9 inches not 11.5 thank you again Kristin

Kelia - January 23, 2014 - 11:08 pm

That’s great, thanks for sharing! How do you make the leg warmers and hat?

Dagmara - January 30, 2014 - 8:19 am

I made some as well, can’t wait to use them :)

Bea Pastor - February 19, 2014 - 1:39 pm

So cute!! Thanks

julia@namelyoriginal - April 19, 2014 - 8:24 am

I tried downloading the file but it won’t open in word. Can you just send it to my email?

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