Trying to fix the world’s problems, one pajama at a time

My children, who aren’t particularly “tidy” sleepers in bed, have been complaining that their pajama shorts cut them in half. You know what I mean by this – a kind of naturally-occurring pajama wedgie.

Their pajamas are loose enough, but I told them that if you change position in bed, you often need to move your pajamas with you, so you don’t end up in a tangled mess and, yes, possibly cut in half. It’s part of Good Pajama Management.

They haven’t yet mastered this, so I thought I’d try making some easy-to-sleep in pajama shorts that don’t cut them in half. Sure, we can’t fix all the world’s problems with patternmaking, but I thought I’d give this a try.

I had in mind something with a low, wide crotch, almost like a modern-day bloomer. I saw lots like this on Pinterest:

They look like A-line skirts with the centre hem sewn together to make leg holes.

So, empowered by Pinterest, I cut out an A-line skirt.

I top-and-tailed trapezium shapes for the back and front. There’s a centre back seam. I cut out a separate waistband.

First attempt

I sewed up an A-line skirt with an elastic waist and hemmed it beautifully with a twin needle. I stitched together the centre of the hem to create leg holes. When I tried it on the girl, it looked awful, like a skirt bunched up between her legs. Which, in fact, it was.

First attempt: FAIL.

I went back to Pinterest and took another look. Hmmm… All those styles are a bit longer than mine (knee length or longer) and the models are all standing with their feet suspiciously wide apart….

Second attempt

Maybe I need some sort of gusset?

I pinned a rectangular gusset in place and it looked so bad I couldn’t bear it!

Second attempt: FAIL.

Third attempt

How about ribbed leg bands? Some of the Pinterest ones had them – although by now I didn’t trust any of those pictures.

I ran out to the shed to look for ribbing offcuts, but couldn’t find a decent colour match. How about self-bands? I cut some out but didn’t get as far as attaching them, as I could see some sort of gusset was still required.

Third attempt: FAIL.

Fourth attempt

By now the afternoon was getting late. It was almost time for packing up my gear and doing dinner prep, and I was feeling very tired too. But I pushed on because she would be at school tomorrow and I wouldn’t have a model.

I cut out a gusset like this.
Which, if you were cutting out multiples, could be tessellated like this.

I sewed this in, did a narrow hem, and called it a day.

They’re not too bad. She wore them to bed last night to test them, good sport that she is. I could tell she wasn’t enamored with them but she wasn’t keen on the fabric to start with.

Her Verdict: she said they were a “bit better” than the other ones. (But enough to keep wearing them, I wonder?)

My Verdict: a lot of faffing, going in directions with dead ends, and falling for photos on Pinterest. Maybe we should just be working on Good Pajama Management instead? Or maybe she will keep wearing them? Either way, I feel that my work here is done 🙂


UPDATE: I tried a different pattern some weeks later.


  1. Laurinda on November 14, 2022 at 1:07 pm

    No need to reinvent the wheel- Snug shorts (like leggings) or slippery fabrics, like basketball shorts, are the keys to minimal Pajama Management.

    • lizhaywood on November 14, 2022 at 5:40 pm

      That’s absolutely true. For a while they wore underpants under their jammies for this reason, but I told them it was better to let their skin breathe.
      They said long pajama legs with ribbed cuffs are OK, so it’s really only a problem for half the year.

  2. Deanna Van Velsen on November 14, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    They remind me of stepins from 1920s. I have an old sewing book that shows how to make them. I have never made them but now I want to try

    • lizhaywood on November 14, 2022 at 5:50 pm

      I just looked up stepins – they would be great as sleep attire.

  3. Kay on November 14, 2022 at 5:30 pm

    Hi Liz, Make them some t shirt nighties.
    love kay

    • lizhaywood on November 14, 2022 at 5:55 pm

      Hi Kay, I did suggest to them that nighties could solve a lot of Pajama Management problems, but was told no thanks, they prefer pjs. I think they’re a good idea myself.

  4. Juliana Bendandi on November 14, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    Dear Liz, Thank you so much for sharing your process. It‘s very inspiring! I used to think fails were the worst! Now (at 50) I finally get it that it just belongs to the process of doing something new. (Even though they still suck! Best, Giul

    • lizhaywood on November 14, 2022 at 7:25 pm

      Good thoughts, Juliana. I’m 50 too, and even though I have less fails these days (because I’ve already done most of them haha!) I have a far more patient approach to them because as you say, they’re just part of the process. I also care less (in a good way) about what other people think of them and maybe the upside is that we can all have a laugh.

      • Juliana Bendandi on November 14, 2022 at 7:57 pm

        Dear Liz! Well said! I got to work on accumulating my fails! Thanks again for sharing your process! Best, Giul

  5. Denise Chevalier on November 14, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    The most wedgie-proof pants that I can think of are those designed by Issey Miyake in the 1980s. They are based on two squares folded, perhaps taken from a traditional Japanese design. [Vogue 1328 Issey Miyake tunic and trousers. Pattern price AU$174.24]
    I have made these very comfortable pants, but I didn’t pay anything like the current asking price for this pattern.

    • lizhaywood on November 14, 2022 at 7:32 pm

      Just had a look – ah yes, MC Hammer pants!
      Hypothesis: wedgie-proofness is directly proportional to the amount of looseness + crotch depth. I think I would have done better with trousers that were longer and had more ease, rather than shorts. Or go smooth and tight as per Laurinda’s comment.

  6. Lois on November 14, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    Hi Liz, Have you thought of loose culottes with a slightly dropped crotch? Airy and comfortable. Or elastic waisted shorts a few sizes bigger? Either would look cute. Your daughter is a good sport!

    • lizhaywood on November 14, 2022 at 9:46 pm

      Agree, think looser is better.
      Yes, she was a very good sport, but I notice she isn’t wearing them tonight!

  7. Carol Young on November 15, 2022 at 1:11 am

    I wondered if cut-off variation of your zero waste pj bottoms/scrubs would work? I have been really pleased with the long pairs I have made in jersey and think the gusset direction would assist in your quest. I look forward to seeing the next iteration. C x

    • lizhaywood on November 15, 2022 at 9:35 am

      Hmmm, yes the gusset direction could help. Good idea.

  8. Lesley on November 15, 2022 at 1:49 am

    One word – ‘nighty’. Good on you for trying to come up with something new.

    • lizhaywood on November 15, 2022 at 9:46 am

      I’ve tried to convert them to nighties, Lesley, with all the zeal and vigour of a TV evangelist. For a short while I was successful, but they have backslidden and now live life as pajama-wearers. Who knows? Maybe later in life they will re-discover the power of the nighty!

  9. Carol in Denver on November 15, 2022 at 3:13 am

    The problem as I experience it is that pajama fabric drags on the sheet fabric. Every time you turn while sleeping, the pj fabric stays in place while the body turns.

    Solutions include silk charmeuse for pj and/or sheets (poly charmeuse probably works too but use fabric softener to avoid static electricity), nylon tricot (again with the fabric softener) or sleep in the nude.

    • lizhaywood on November 15, 2022 at 10:10 am

      Good point – I had forgotten about fabrics. I made these shorts from t-shirt knit simply because that’s what her other ones were made of. I do know, from experience, that flannelette pajamas worn with flannelette sheets pretty much holds you in the same place in bed (unless you have very advanced Pajama Management Skills).
      Synthetic sheets are not something we have here in Australia, for obvious reasons – sheets are either 100% cotton or poly/cotton. However, silky pajamas could be the answer.

      They are unlikely to sleep in the nude. They used to, though. As preschoolers and very young school children, they insisted on it – they like feeling free in bed, and I had no problem with this (gotta pick your battles, parents). Then suddenly they wanted to wear pajamas. They told me that if the house burnt down in the middle of the night and they had to be rescued by firefighters, they didn’t want to be rescued in the nude. I said that was an unlikely scenario, but they remain unconvinced.

  10. Sue on November 15, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    I have never heard of Good Pyjama Management, and I wonder why – perhaps because I was sent to boarding school at 11 and my mother never explained. To this day I cannot manage pyjamas, and nightdresses are even worse. I won’t tell you my solution! I found this a really interesting post, with lots of great ideas. Thank you Liz!

    • lizhaywood on November 16, 2022 at 9:59 am

      Thanks Sue – I think the comments section is way more interesting and useful than the actual blog post!
      Good Pajama Management, although a real thing, was a phrase made up (I believe) by my dad, who was into giving Life Advice on “managing” things properly. Eg Good Firewood Management when you’re camping, or Good Toothpaste Management if you squeeze the (metal) tube from the bottom. It could also be used negatively, such as Poor Firewood Management. Really, I don’t think you missed much by going to boarding school!

  11. El on November 18, 2022 at 10:40 pm

    The 3rd attempt illustration reminds me of a really simple woollen nappy cover: eg
    A geometric shape like this, with ribbed legs, might solve the problem of excess bulk in the legs and a separate gusset whilst also being possible to make zero-waste?

    I am a firm believer in good quality silk PJs but I might add this experiment to the (long) experiment list and report back.

    • lizhaywood on November 19, 2022 at 11:27 am

      Thanks El, that idea is definitely worth trying out.
      Yep, there’s a good long list to experiment with now!

  12. Chris Beebe on December 9, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    Hi Liz,

    I would just like to comment that you may like to have a look at the large ladies knicker/shorts by Muna and Broad, they have a very interesting take on construction… and i could see the principle being used in good Jammies.

    • lizhaywood on December 9, 2022 at 5:09 pm

      Hi Chris, I know the ones – they have a gusset, which could be the key to avoiding wedgies. Which has just reminded me of these gusseted trousers – I still have the samples so I will get them to try them. Thank you!

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