Just Getting Warmed Up: DIY Inexpensive Base Layer for Kids

For the last few months, my preparedness focus has been on stocking our family with WARM winter clothing. We live in Utah, and we get our fair share of cold and snow. If you live in an area that is prone to cold temps, or if you plan on taking a trip somewhere that is, it’s a really great idea to be prepared. Our little kiddies are more at risk of developing hypothermia, so it’s important that we dress them to keep the heat in. One great way to do that is to dress in layers.

When layering, you want to start with material that will wick moisture away from your body, dry quickly, and have good insulating properties. The cotton thermal underwear that is carried everywhere will NOT cut it. As cotton absorbs moisture, it loses the ability to insulate well, whether that moisture be from snow, rain, or sweat. Wet cotton speed the loss of body heat. Which is great if it’s 95 degrees out. Not so great if you are stuck out in the cold for any length of time.

I found some great micro-fleece polyester thermal underwear in the women’s underwear section at Walmart of all places. All they had was cotton in the men’s section, so I bought my man a larger size of the women’s version. It works because they look gender neutral, as they are solid black, a basic shape, and base layers are meant to be fairly form-fitting under your other clothing. I was having a hard time finding anything but cotton for my little guy though, unless I spent a small fortune. That is, until I saw these, and had a stroke of genius.


The material was right, 100% polyester fleece. Polyester is great because it doesn’t hold onto moisture like cotton. Instead of being absorbed and held, the moisture is wicked away from the skin and evaporates more quickly.

And they were cheap! This inexpensive outfit also came from Walmart. I think it was $12 or less to buy both of them.

Which brings me to this: It is HARD to cough up $$$ for clothes that your kids are going to outgrow in a blink, especially ones that are so seasonal! There are a few things that I have determined really help lessen the blow to our wallets. 1. Buy used. You can find great quality items that are lightly used for cheap! Yard sales, online classified sites, and thrift stores are great places to look. 2. Buy at the end of the current season for next season. When stores are clearing out their winter products, they’ll mark the price down. 3. Buy bigger sizes and just roll things up so that clothes can be used for more than one season. 4. Buy gender neutral and classic items so that they can be passed down to your other children.

On that note, this DIY is great because if you buy the outfit a couple of sizes larger than your child is currently in, it could potentially fit your kiddo for up to 3 winter seasons! I’ll show you what I mean in a minute.

The sweatshirt I plan on layering on top of a polyester shirt under his heavier coat, but the pants I wanted as a real “base” layer. They were a little bulky for that purpose, and I wanted a more snug fit so that he would be able to wear them under other pants. I thought about getting rid of the pockets but then I decided the storage might be a nice feature.

I’m a fairly inexperienced seamstress, but this really is EASY. I started out by putting the pants on my son inside out. I had him lay flat on the floor so that I could pin the pants where I wanted the new inseam to be.


Cute little mannequin!


I would recommend using straight pins, but the safety pins were what I had handy.


I made the crotch area a little longer than he currently needs so that as he grows taller, the waist band wont ride too low. (In the meantime, I just flip the waist band over to lift the pants up the extra inch or two.) After pinning the whole thing I used a marker to mark where I wanted to cut. I left about 1/2 an inch as my seam allowance between my drawn line and the pins. My lines are obviously not perfect, nor is my pinning, and let’s be honest, neither was my sewing. But this is a VERY forgiving project.


Then I cut away the extra fabric…


I didn’t get any pics of these next steps, but I just sewed along the cut edges with a straight stitch about where the pins were, taking the pins out as I went. Make sure to backstitch at the end of your seams. After the straight seam, I actually zigzag stitched over the cut edge to increase the strength of the seam. Turn right-side out and ta-da!


With the tighter fit, the pants bunch enough that even though they are long on him now, they don’t drag on the ground! And because the pants are somewhat stretchy, and the length has been reserved, he should be able to wear them for at least 2 more winters! Another bonus: The pants tuck right into his boots and stay there, instead of being a pain to tuck in as the originals would have been and will help keep the snow out of his boots!



Is your family prepared for the weather (whatever that may be where you live)? Any great winter prep ideas you’d care to share?

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One thought on “Just Getting Warmed Up: DIY Inexpensive Base Layer for Kids

  1. Dru Huffaker

    I love the insightful ideas you shared in your article! We need to make sure we are doing all we can to provide the necessities our families require and I appreciate your down to earth tips for making it happen!


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