Easy DIY Wide Leg Paper Bag Pants

Lisa Miller-Mecham
by Lisa Miller-Mecham

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I love the casual yet pulled together look of a fitted top and paper bag pants. Not only are these pants just as comfortable as your worn-in pajamas, but this seventies-inspired look is surprisingly easy to make yourself.

The name, “paper bag pants” comes from the unique gathered waist. From a construction standpoint, all paper bag pants are is a regular pull-on pant with an extra casing above the drawstring enclosure. The extra fabric above the waistline pulls into itself when the drawstring is tight making the top to look like a “paper bag.” Simple enough right?

Making these pants is going to be super simple. After all, these paper bag pants are basically just a fancier pajama pant! For today’s tutorial, we’ll be using the pattern we created from our DIY wide leg palazzo pants and creating a different top. The fabric I’m using for this project is a printed, non-stretch cotton blend so the pull-on drawstring will be perfect.

Paper Bag Pants Supplies

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How to Make Paper Bag Pants

For this project, we will only be using the leg portion of our DIY palazzo pant pattern. Set the waistband aside.

Cut 2 leg pieces from the DIY Palazzo Pant Pattern and fold in half, right sides together. Pin along the outside seam all the way up the leg.

Use a standard straight stitch to sew up the entire length of the leg. From here, you will have 2 separate leg pieces that look like long tubes.

Attach the two leg pieces by pinning the center front together and working your way around the crotch until you line up the center back. Make sure the “right sides” of fabric are facing each other, or the sides that you want to show when you are finished with your pants.

Now it’s time to get creative and make the paper bag waistline! Slide your unfinished pants on to be sure the hips are wide enough (they may look like clown pants at this point-stay with me.) If your pants are big enough to pull on comfortably, then take them off and lay your pants flat on a table.

To create the paper bag waistband, measure the distance of the top of your pants and double that measurement so your waistband can circle your pants. Add 1 1/2″ for seam allowance and some extra room. Write that number down.

Now that you know the measurement of your new waistband, it’s time to cut! Cut a long rectangle 6″ tall and your new measurement wide. Fold the long rectangle in half hot-dog style and start pinning around the top of your pants beginning at the center front.

Once your basic waistband is sewn in place, iron it flat and tuck in the extra seam allowance. Your paper bag pants should be looking similar to this:

The last step in creating the paper bag waist of your pants is to top-stitch a straight line 1″ above the seam of your 3″ waistband. This creates the casing for your drawstring and the additional fabric needed to create the paper bag look. Sew the top, larger casing shut.

(Since we began with a 6″ rectangle to create the waistband and folded it in half, you should have a 3″ wide waistband.)

Now the only thing left to do is create the drawstring. To do this just cut a 2″ long strip of fabric. I like to use a piece longer than I think I’ll need because you can always trim it later to your liking.

  1. Fold your 2″ strip of fabric in half hot dog style. Sew it in place using a straight stitch.
  2. Attach a sewing pin to the end of one side. Close the sewing pin so it’s smooth on either end and slowly feed it through the tube, flipping it inside out.
  3. Work your way down the tube of fabric, slowly turning it inside out along the way. When you are done, tie a knot on either end to prevent fraying.

The last and final step to make these paper bag pants is to finish the hem of your pants. After that comes the best part- you get to wear your new creation!

I really sincerly hoped you liked this tutorial. Making your own clothes is so rewarding and I hope your paper bag pants turned out awesome! If you have any questions while you are making this (or any of my projects) just leave a comment below and I’d love to help out!

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Lisa Miller-Mecham
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