TUTORIAL: Knee Pad Pants (for boys and girls)

by Dana on July 6, 2008

These are some of my favorite pants to make. I hope you love them too.
I first got the idea when my son learned to crawl. His pants were always dirty in the knee and on the verge of holes.
There had to be a better way.

Duh!
Add some knee pads.
So I did! And 4 years later, I’m still making them.
I never grow tired of how cute the pads look, contrasted against the fabric. And the pants are always more durable (and way more fun) because of it.

Proof:
(Owen and his robot dance)
Ready to sew?
Let’s get started.
These pants are based on the Kid Pants Pattern and Tutorial series:

If you’ve never sewn pants for your little guy or girl, it’s very easy to do! Each of the above tutorials walk you through the basic steps. Plus there’s a FREE downloadable pants pattern HERE in size 2T-3T.
For KNEE PAD PANTS:
* We’ll use the
Basic Pant Tutorial, with the Flat Front finish (you can also make them without the flat front).
* Download the free pattern, or use your own pattern
* To adjust our pattern for larger or smaller sizes: use a pair of your child’s current pants as your sizing gauge. Extend or shorten the crotch, sides, top, and and length of the pattern–keeping the basic shape of the pattern the same– till it matches the size of your current pants (adjusting for seam allowances, hem, and waistband).
* Fabrics to use:
- 100% Cotton (pictured here in plaid)
- Lightweight corduroy
- Linen (might be my favorite for these pants)
- Knits
* Always wash and dry fabrics (when appropriate) before sewing to pre-shrink the fibers.
————————————————————

CUTTING and SEWING
* With your pattern ready, follow the steps in the Basic Pants tutorial:
- fold your fabric in half
- cut two Front pieces and two Back pieces.

* Select a knit fabric color for the knee pads. You can also use cotton but I love the comfy padding that knits provides. When using cotton you need to finish off the pad edges so they don’t fray over time; knit edges can be left raw.

You don’t need much fabric here–use scraps from an old T-shirt, leftovers from a previous project, etc.
* Cut out pads using a shape you’d like. I prefer ovals. You can also use stars, hearts, squares, apples? Whatever! I create my shapes in MS Word, adjust the size, and then print it off from my computer so I have a perfect oval. You can also hand-draw them of course.

Once I’ve printed the oval, I then trace it to a piece of cardstock and use that oval as my pattern, since it’s stiff and more durable over time (you know you’re gonna be making more of these).

* Double layer the knit fabric so you have extra padding and so it adds a stylish edge to the pads. I like to see the edges curl up a bit after they’re sewn in place. Cut two double-layered pads and set them aside.
* Following the Basic Pants tutorial, sew the first two steps of the pants:
* Turn the pants right-side out and you can see…they’re already starting to look like pants!
* Place the pads (double-layered) on each leg, and position them over the knee. I always wait to do this step until the pants are partially sewn (rather than sewing the pads on in the first step) because no matter how careful I am with pattern cutting and sewing, things always shift slightly. This way you can position the pads so they’re perfectly even. Eyeball the distance to the knees or measure from your child’s crotch down to their knees for precision.
This may sound silly but as the pants are turned rightside-out, inside-out, and back again it’s easy to be confused about which area is top of the pants and which is the bottom of the pants. Placing a pin at the top of the pants is an easy way to remember.
* Pin each pad in place on the pant legs--only pin through the top layer of the pants!
And now we’re ready to sew.
* Start by sewing outside of the pad to the leg, about 1/8 inch from the edge of the fabric. – It’s important to go slow and avoid tugging the knit fabric as you go–or your oval will become stretched and misshapen.
- Instead, stop periodically, lift the presser foot, and allow the fabric to relax and bounce back into place. Turn the pants bit by bit as you sew around the curve.
- For added style, sew a second parallel line 1/8 inch over from the first.
* Now let’s add knee pads lines. You can also leave the pads plain but the lines add extra strength and durability.
- Start in the middle of the pad and sew a straight line all the way across (always forward and backstitch at the beginning of each line).
- When you get the end of the first line, flip the pants around and come back the other way, sewing another line next to the first. Use your presser foot to guide you in a straight line. For a wider space between each line, adjust the needle position to the right.
- Continue this method going back and forth, back and forth.
- It’s easier to cut all end threads from the lines when you’re completely finished.
Follow the above steps for the other pad as well.
And you have funky, cool knee pads!
* Following the steps in the Basic Pants Tutorial, finish sewing the pants:
* Iron over and sew the waistband, following the Flat Front instructions.
* Hem the pants to desired length.

And you’re done!
One cute pair of pants.
With padded, protected knees.
Throw the pants together with some basic shirts and you’ve got a sensible, styling outfit for school or church:
Try them on your model and let him work the camera.

(fake smile for mom)
(the budding actor)
(there’s the Owen I know)
Enjoy your pants!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosemary January 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm

I remember when boy’s pants came with reinforces knees. Do manufacturers not do that anymore? I see by your tutorial that the knee pads are put on before the inside seam is sewn, but for those adding them to existing pants it helps to have a “free arm” designed sewing machine.

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2 Dayton January 13, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Is it possible to put the knee reinforcement on the inside, so that it is not very noticeable? And thanks for the pattern!
Jules

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3 Napoleon April 26, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I love what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and exposure!
Keep up the superb works guys I’ve included you guys to our blogroll.

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