How to Make Your Own Nighttime Pull-Ups or Training Pants {Eco-Tutorial}

This tutorial was provided by Tiffany of Picnic Basket Crafts.  She’s very cleverly figured out how to make pull-ups or training pants.  I wish I had had this tutorial when my children were young. I don’t believe my 24 and 21 year-olds would appreciate them these days. MAYBE one day they will make them for me!

G is getting nowhere fast with his night time potty training.  The wonderful pull ups we bought when he was two just don’t fit anymore.  Last night I spent two hours online looking for some good, quality training pants, cheap, handmade, etc.  They were not cheap, or not handmade, or not in the right size.  Is it so weird to have a 4 year old who needs a little night time security?  Only trainers are for 2 year olds and 6 year olds, or are made with snaps (pointless for a kid this old), or are not waterproof, or are 12 layers thick… So I spent another hour looking for patterns to make my own…

I woke up this morning realizing if I couldn’t draft a pair of trainers myself, there was seriously something wrong with me.  If you are looking for an easy training pant without snaps, it is so easy!  The cut of these britches is rather boyish, but I think it would be easy to make it more girly if you wanted.


First find a pair of undies you don’t plan on using again.  Worn out hand-me-downs are great.  Oversized, and worn out.  Perfect.  Otherwise, you’ll have to add some width to the side seams if you use undies that fit properly.  Cut them down the sides and lay out on a paper bag or newspaper.  Roughly trace the outline and cut it out.
Fold the pattern in half.  It won’t match, guaranteed.  Pick the side you like better, or adjust it if you like, until you have half a pattern you are happy with.

Take this half-pattern and trace it on the fold of a new paper bag.  See?  Nice and symmetrical.  😀

Now check to see that the side seams are the same length.  I know they don’t line up right, but they will.  Think in 3 dimensions.  😀  Bend the piece around until the edges are parallel and make sure they are the same length.  I ended up trimming this one, and making the front curve less pronounced in the process.

And here is where my camera’s battery died.  I’d like to tell you I was smart enough to put my project aside so I could take pictures as I went, but I was like ON A ROLL.  So I’ll have to add pics later when I make a new one.

I cut this main pattern out of the cheap fleece I had on hand, for the body of the undies.

For a soaker pad, I cut out 4 layers of thin bamboo terry and a thick layer of expensive malden mills polar fleece.  The shape of the pad is a lot like the original strip in the Gerber trainer, only thinner, and not so high in the rear.  Play with a shape you like.  It needs to not go all the way to the edges of the body layer.  Leave 1/4 inch gap or so.  For a girl, you might go lower in the front and higher in the back (more centered).

The soaker pad (4 layers of bamboo, one fleece) is stacked and stitched down the middle to hold the layers together.  Then it is stitched around the edges, 1/2 inch from the edge.  I ran it through my serger to neaten up the edges, but if you don’t have one, you can use a zig zag close to the edge and trim closely.

Then the soaker pad was tacked down in the front and back of the fleece outer.  The fleece layer of the soaker pad goes closest to the fleece outer, and the bamboo against the child’s skin.  I only stitch it down in the front and back, rather than all the way around, so that it will be easier to wash and dry.  Also, the more stitching, the more wetness will wick through to the outside.

Next I stitched down the edges of the outer layer.  I sewed mine with the seam on the outside, because I know my little guy hates seams on the inside of his clothes.  But obviously, it will look nicer if you put the seams inside.  I used my serger, and then stitched the seam down with a straight stitch.  It lies nice and flat.  Probably it would have felt fine that way on the inside too, but whatever.

Now it is almost done!  All you have to do is trim the leg holes and waist with a strip of fleece.  To make a stretchy binding, you want to cut the fleece with the stretch going the long way.  For the legs, cut a rectangle 3 inches wide and as long as the circumference of your little one’s thigh.  For the waist, 4 inches wide and the circumference of the hips (not too tight, you have to pull them up over the bum too!).  Sew a loop and then fold it in half lengthwise.  Sew to the leg (or waist) opening, matching up all three layers.  I use a big seam allowance for these steps (1/2 inch) because I know I will miss layers if I don’t.  Then you can trim the seam allowance if you want, but I found that it actually makes a tidy little barrier to hold the pad in place, so I left the seam allowance on the legs, but trimmed the waist.

Alright, now that’s done!  I can get to work now!

As an aside, this whole experience did illustrate for me why WAHM diapers are so expensive.  I’d want $20 for this amount of work too!  But it is nice to use up a stash, and to have something that fits perfectly.  And to have it now.  😀

One more thing, I think if you wanted to make it less boy-short-ish, you could cut more of a curve in the legs (think bikini line), and trim with a skinnier strip for the legs.  But.  Even if I had a girl, I like this shape.  Boy shorts are cute!



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  1. Hey, thanks for the comments! I didn’t even realize this article had been posted until I saw it come up in my feed and thought, “hey, I think I wrote a tutorial about that once!” LOL Thanks for the feature, and for the reassurance! <3

  2. And yes, it is perfectly normal to have a 4 yr old with nighttime protection. Our wise,old family doctor told me years ago that children do not potty train. Just wait and let them indicate when they are ready to wear big girl/boy panties. Some of my children started young, and a couple of others were 4 ish. But there was no process, other than patience on my part and it was great to allow the kids to make that choice themselves about their own bodies. I think it gave them a sense of ownership and responsibility. Congratulations! You have a perfectly healthy 4 year old!

  3. Those are pretty spiffy pullups!