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31 August 2009

How To Make Wool Soaker Pants

















Wool Soaker Pants, aka Longies, are what Ma Ingalls was using before plastic diaper covers were invented in the 1970s. Wool has some amazing properties: it's naturally anti-bacterial, it can absorb moisture without feeling wet, and best of all you just need to air it out between uses (unless soiled of course). You only wash it every 2 - 3 weeks. That's my kinda laundry!

There are many different kinds of soakers to make - shorts, skirties, pants. I plan to do tutorials for them all over the winter. Let's start with the sweater arm pants.

Step one: select a pure wool (at least 90% wool) sweater. The softest ones are cashmere, lambswool and merino wool. Read the tag to make sure it's a dry clean only sweater. That will make it right for felting.


Step two: Wash the sweater on the hot water cycle and tumble dry. If you've ever done this by accident, you know that the sweater will thicken and shrink. This is called Hot Wash Felting.

Step three: Cut the arms off the sweater at the shoulder seam. (Save the rest of the sweater for other soakers).

Step four: measure your little one's pant length. Make a knick in the sleeve at this point.

Step five: Cut open the sleeves above your knick.
Step six: Turn one sleeve inside out. Insert the right side out sleeve into the inside out one so that the good sides of both sleeves are facing each other inside.
Step seven: Make sure that you line up the seams of the sweater. This is going to be the crotch seam, so it is a good idea to backstitch here to strengthen it also.
Step eight: Sew where shown. While felted wool won't likely unravel, I still like to zigzag or serge the edges.
Step nine: turn your sleeves right way out and you will have something that looks like this:
Step ten: level off the top.



You will likely need to add more wool to the waist area to make it tall enough to reach your little one's waistline. Many people use the waistband from the sweater since it is already finished on one edge. I have a stash of felted sweaters, so I am making a waistband in a contrasting color. You need to cut the waistband roughly the same size as the top opening of the pants, but wool has some stretch to it, so don't fret if you have two slightly different sized pieces.
Step eleven: Once you've created your waistband piece, turn it inside out and position it over the waist of your pants so that the good sides are facing each other. Sew up the upper seam.
Step twelve: Make a casing for the elastic at the top of the waistband. Insert elastic and finish the waist.
Finally, I always like to add some appliques on the seat. If your pants are too long, just roll them up at the cuff.

30 comments:

Jennette said...

Thats a really cool idea!
http://boutiquestitches.blogspot.com/

Pacokeco said...

You make it look so easy!
Btw, I don't recommend doing the circle applique right on the bum seam...heehee.
I have something new I've been addicted to making lately and I'm sending some your way♥

mamaTAVE said...

I have made longies in the past, and I want to compliment you on the simplicity of your instructions--now my preferred tutorial for making soakers. I like the idea of using a contrasting sweater for the waist and am going to have to try that soon. I hope you don't mind that I linked back to you at my blog where I talk about my wool soaker-making experience (http://mamatave.blogspot.com/2009/07/wool-soakers.html). Thank you for sharing your great ideas! Take good care.

Shelly and Todd said...

Hey, I ventured from Lil Blue's blog to yours. I just spent a good 20 minutes browsing through all of your creative posts.
Wonderful ideas and I love the reasoning behind yours, not just because it's "fashionable" or "trendy" now, to upcycle clothing (not that that's a BAD thing!) but because you support the environment also.
I refashion alot and am getting better at sewing each day! Thanks for the inspiration. I've been seeing some wool leggings and never knew the warm wash process!

Rachel R. said...

Any possibility you might do a wool diaper *wrap*, too? Pretty please? lol :) No one seems to do those. But one can purchase wool diaper wraps, so they must be doable, right?

The Sewing Dork said...

Yep, I will do that one soon. Now that the sunlight fades so early, I have to get all my photos in during nap time so I'm a bit behind...

looktang said...

Please excuse me because I don't have kids or even much experience with babies. But without getting too graphic, what is a plastic diaper cover? I was thinking like a rubber pants version of a shower cap to go over a disposable diaper in case.. the diaper doesn't hold enough? But aren't they these huge padded contraptions with all sorts of strap-and-hold-and-absorb technology and plasticy outsides anyways?
Then wouldn't a wool version still absorb?

please... enlighten me! : ) I'm just so curious.

The Sewing Dork said...

Looktang, you are right, there are many modern diapers that have built in plastic components nowadays (so no need for a diaper cover). Many moms want to avoid any type of synthetics for their babies and opt to use wool over pure cotton diapers that don't have that built-in cover. It's the "greenest" type of diapering.

gmajo said...

Thank you for the sample of longies. I have two felted sweaters and one cut apart. Want to make short cover from body and longies from arms.
Am I crazy for 20# babies should make two short and one longie--right. Instructions for shortie I am now looking for. Thanks enjoyed your blog I will be back to visit new items. Gma Jo in Oregon

Julie Renee Holland said...

Cute pants! I love wool diaper covers and longies. They are so cozy this time of year. My little girl adores hers and loves to feel how soft they are on her legs.

Hippie4ever said...

SUPER SUPER COOL!!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO TRY IT! :)

Leslie and Melissa said...

I just made my first pair and they are so stinkin cute! I was wondering how you take care of/wash your wool covers??? Thanks for the awesome tutorial! Melissa

AnnieSantiago said...

As far as washing, I think you can just toss them in the washing machine and dryer! They've already been felted.

My understanding is that they only have to be air dried for a few wearings before washing.

Plastic pants! Hahaha! Yes, that's what I put on my kids' fannies over their diapers to keep the urine in. (I'm 57) You just don'[t see them anymore. These soakers are a GREAT alternative! Thanks for a really cool idea and pattern!

WiJoyMom said...

Can I use a sweater that is
70% lambswool
20% angora/rabbit hair
10% nylon,
this one does say 'dry clean only'?

I'm unable to find info. on the web, to know 'if' the 20% angora is okay to go ahead & use/make this sweater into a wool soaker? Will you please email me? Thank you!

Can you felt more than 1 sweater at a time? What about different colors? I have 3 solid sweaters, blue, gray & green. Being my 1st time felting, I'm a little nervous, I'll do it wrong. Wash warm or hot? Regular detergent? or special kind/brand/etc.? Tumble dry, warm? or hot? Could you please share more on that part of 'how to'/felting? that would be great.

WiJoyMom said...

When felting, do you use regular cycle or delicate?

WiJoyMom said...

Thank you, so much for sharing this info., your photos & explanation help me make a pair of wool shorties and longies. I especially appreciate the detail of the piece/legs being turned inside out & how those 2 fit together, for sewing that part...well done!!

lollyflower said...

Great, and yet simple! I am always on the lookout for a great new project. I will try this soon! Thanks for sharing.

kimberly said...

I really like sewing because i can create every thing like a skirt, blouse, pants or dresses and desing my own style. When i am sewing i usually feel my imagination flies. I think i am appationated about this.

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katty said...

I really like sewing in my free time and I really enjoy this practice, when I get my house through costa rica homes for sale I knew it would many space in my house like to take a room as a workshop. And now I usually invite my friend to sewing in the afternoon. We spend a funny time creating new things

tilapiaperch said...

Just used your tutorial to make my 1st pair of longies...my hubby said "I can't tell they are home made." Getting the waist band portion to stretch without stretching the pants at the same time was a bit of a trick. Looking for more sweaters for more creating, this one came from a thrift shop, pre-felted and only$2.50 (huge savings from the $65 per pair of wool pants I found on-line!).

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jclmellor said...

hi, excellent blog! can i ask about the circle embellishment/design on the longies? i'd like to decorate my longies with something similar but am a bit clueless. if i find some felted wool designs (e.g. from ebay) would it be possible to sew these onto the longies? is it better to sew on the leg rather than the bottom area?! many thanks xxx

The Sewing Dork said...

You can easily sew an embellishment on the pants - either ones your purchase or ones you make youself out of scraps.

Rhiana said...

thank you so much! This was so helpful! I just made my first pair, and I'm wondering what you think about me adding a cotton applique. Do you think that small amount will pull the moisture from the wool?

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lawyers directory said...

its very good costume its my first baby pair thanks

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Tabitha said...

I'm ecstatic!! I am all most finished with my first pair. I just need to purchase some elastic for the waistband and stitch it closed. They are not the most beautiful, but I am sure they will keep my LO warm and dry at night.

Ramiro Bowdon NBA BLOG said...

thank you so much! This was so helpful! I just made my first pair, and I'm wondering what you think about me adding a cotton applique. Do you think that small amount will pull the moisture from the wool? Cheap NIKE NFL Jerseys
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Sweetpetunia said...

These are probably the best instructions I've seen. I tried to make one pair of wool longies about 10 years ago when my son was a baby and since they looked a little funny and the instructions said to felt the sweater (I did) and the sweater shrunk down so small and it was so stiff and scratchy I just gave up and never tried again.

Then I stumbled upon some sweaters of various materials and I made one so far that works wonderfully on my baby from your instructions. Thank so much. :) I'm getting ready to make two more from cashmere. I know my baby will love them.