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Knit 'n' Tyme

These unisex baby jeans knit up quickly. They are comfy as PJs, and get more faded and jean-like with every trip through the washer and dryer. An added benefit is that the baby wearing them will look like James Dean (or Marilyn Monroe) in the movie 'Giant'.

The fun here is in the knitterly details. The jeans are constructed of two mirror-image pieces, one for each leg, joined in the center. The cuffs are knitted in a lighter shade of true denim yarn to mimic the wrong side of denim twill fabric. The inseams, sewn in orange cotton yarn, use a flat, overlapping seam for a realistic look. The seat shaping lends authentic cowpoke chic (and makes room for the cowpoke's diaper). Faux side seams give you a chance to try Elizabeth Zimmerman's ingenious 'phony seam' technique, which prevents the legs from twisting with wear. Easy embroidery recalls riveted pockets.

The final touch is an optional handmade label. Too crafty for ya? No worries: you can still rock the baby shower by recycling a label from an old pair of jeans, or snagging the one that comes in a pack of Rowan Denim.

model: Taro Higashi Zimmerman photos: Kay Gardiner & Cristina Shiffman

0[3-6, 6-12, 12-18, 18-24] months

(Before shrinking)
Waist: 13[15, 17, 20, 22] inches
Inseam Length: 7[8, 9, 10, 11] inches
Side Length: 12[13, 14.5, 16, 18]inches



Rowan Denim [100% cotton; 103yd/93m per 50g skein]
[MC] Nashville #225 (dark indigo): 2[2, 3, 3, 3] skeins
[CC] Tennessee #231 (light blue) 1[1, 1, 1, 1] skein
Small amount of Rowan Handknit Cotton [100% cotton; 93 yd/85m per 50g skein]; color: Mango Fool #319 (orange) for embroidery
(Cotton embroidery floss will also work)

1 set US #6/4mm straight needles
Smooth cotton waste yarn
18 inch length of three-quarter inch wide elastic
Sewing needle
Dark blue sewing thread

Small piece of wool felt for label
Small amount of blue embroidery floss for label




20 sts/28 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch



[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations can be found here]

If you haven't used denim yarn before, you're in for a treat, and perhaps a new yarn addiction.

After knitting, denim yarn will shrink approximately 5-15%, in length only, on the first washing in hot water. The pattern takes this shrinkage into account. The jeans will also fade gently with washing and wear, showing white flecks just like woven denim fabric.

The dark shade will turn your fingers blue as you knit, but it washes off easily.


Right Leg
Because the selvedges will be visible, slip the first stitch of every row purlwise throughout the pattern.

*Using CC, CO 35[41, 47, 53, 59] sts.

Work 10[12, 14, 16, 18] rows in reverse stockinette st, ending with a WS row; break yarn.

Using MC, work 2 rows in stockinette st.

Next Row [RS]: Sl 1, k1, m1, k to last 2 sts, m1, k2.
Work 3[3, 3, 5, 5] rows in stockinette st,
Repeat these 4[4, 4, 6, 6] rows 7 times more. 51[57, 63, 69, 75] sts.*

Cont in stockinette st until work measures 7[8, 9, 10, 11] inches (including cuff), ending with a WS row.

Shape Seat and Crotch:
Next Row [RS]: BO 3 sts, k to end.

Next Row [WS]: BO 5 sts, p to end.

Next Row [RS]: Sl 1, k2tog, k to end.

Next Row [WS]: BO 3 sts, p to end.

Next Row [RS]: Sl 1, k2tog, k to end.
Next Row [WS]: Sl 1, p2tog, p to end.
Repeat these 2 rows once more. 35[41, 47, 53, 59] sts rem.

**Cont in stockinette st until work measures 10[11.5, 13, 14.5, 16] inches, ending with a WS row.

Phony Seam:
Next Row [RS]: K17[20, 23, 26, 29] sts; drop next st from left needle and unravel down to first row. Using a spare knitting needle, pick the 'ladders' of the dropped stitch up again, but instead of picking up each ladder individually as you normally would to repair a dropped stitch, pick up 1 ladder, then 2 ladders together, repeating this sequence until you have picked up all the ladders. IMPORTANT: PICK UP AS IF TO KNIT, even on the rev st st of the cuff portion (this creates the illusion of an inside-out seam, as on a real jean cuff). When you have picked up all the way back to the top, place the stitch back on the left needle and knit to the end of the row.

Next Row [WS]: K all sts.
Work 9[9, 9, 11, 11, 11] rows in stockinette st.
Repeat these 10[10, 10, 12, 12, 12] rows once more. The first garter ridge marks the lower edge of the waistband, the second garter ridge forms a turning ridge, for folding the waistband over to make an elastic casing.

Place all sts on a length of waste yarn that is long enough to hold the sts without bunching. Tie the waste yarn into a firm double knot and trim the ends to 2 inches.**

Left Leg
Work as for Right Leg from * to *.

Cont in stockinette st until work measures 7[8, 9, 10, 11] inches (including cuff), ending with a RS row.

Shape Seat and Crotch:
Next Row [WS]: BO 3 sts, p to end.

Next Row [RS]: BO 5 sts, k to end.

Next Row [WS]: P1, p2tog, p to end.

Next Row [RS]: BO 3 sts, k to end.

Next Row [WS]: P1, p2tog, p to end.
Next Row
[RS]: K1, k2tog, k to end.
Repeat these 2 rows once more. 35[41, 47, 53, 59] sts rem.

Cont as for Right Leg from ** to **.


step 1^

step 2^

step 3^

step 4^
Sew in all ends and machine wash pieces in hot water.  Tumble dry on cotton setting.  Lightly press to facilitate sewing, blocking pieces to same dimensions by laying one on top of the other with wrong sides facing.

Embroidered jean details: It is easier to do the embroidery before seaming the jeans. Use orange yarn throughout.

Referring to the photo as a guide, embroider the fly and the front slash pockets, using running stitch. At the beginning and end of the lines describing the pockets, layer 3 backstitches for the rivets.

Sew on button, or embroider a faux button, at the top of the fly as shown in the photograph.

Referring to the photo as a guide, embroider the back pockets with a running stitch.

Felt Label (optional)
Cut out and embroider the felt label as desired. Use sewing thread to attach the felt label, or other label of your choice, to the back waistband.  Small whip stitches or blanket stitches do the job nicely. 

Sew rise and inner legs as follows:
Start by joining the rise (the center front and back seams). To orient the edges, lay the left and right pieces flat, right sides facing, with both crotch edges meeting in the center. Slightly overlap the left side over the right side at the rise. With a piece of orange DK cotton, sew a backstitch seam, starting at the turning ridge of the waistband and working down to the crotch in the front. Now turn the piece over, with the front seam facing down, and seam the back of the rise, working in backstitch, from the turning ridge of the waistband down to the seat. (At this point, the crotch is still open.)

Next, join the inside portion of the waistband seam. To reduce bulk in the waistband, use regular sewing thread to join the remaining section of the waistband (the short section above the turning ridge, which later will be folded to the inside to form an elastic casing). 

Next, join the inner leg seams. With the front of the jeans facing, slightly overlap the front leg edges over the back leg edges, and sew the inner seam with backstitch in a single seam from the bottom edge of one leg to the bottom edge of the other leg. This will make a flat, visible inner leg seam that looks like a classic blue jeans seam. 

Elastic Waist:
Create a loop with the elastic by laying the ends over one another and running a few rows of hand or machine stitches through the overlap to secure.  (If possible, try the elastic on the baby to check the fit; it should be secure and flat, but not tight, around the baby's waist. If you can't try it on the baby, make sure the loop of elastic will fit inside the waist of the jeans without either gathering the waist in or stretching it out.) Turn the pants inside out and position the elastic inside the waist band.  Remove the waste yarn from the live stitches and use blue sewing thread to sew the live stitches down to the inverted ridge of stitches that marks the bottom of the waist band. 

You're done! Put jeans on baby and take baby out in public immediately. Collect oohs, aahs, and requests to knit jeans for other babies.


Cristina Bernardi Shiffman is an eclectic handcrafter who knits to her own drummer while bringing up two boys in Philadelphia. Alas, only one of them is still small enough for baby jeans.

Kay Gardiner, a New Yorker, is half a blogger. With Ann Shayne, she is co-author of, and of an upcoming book, Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitter's Guide, which will appear in March 2006. You will find Kay driving down I-95 to use Cristina's sewing machine, or updating the Blu baby jeans gallery at the blog.

Send us a picture of your jeans at the e-mail address below!