Thursday, May 30, 2013

Boy/Girl Coordinating PJ's!

The Boy has needed some new summer pj's now that the weather is warming up (at least intermittently), so this is the second pair I've made for him.  Since the scraps coordinated so well with a turquoise cotton t-shirt I picked up at the dollar tree, I thought it would be fun for Little Sister to have a matching nightgown.  And they were both excited about it!


His is just a simple knit t-shirt and shorts I drafted from his one pair of store-bought pj's that fit (awesome Ethnic Animals on orange cotton knit from Girl Charlee.  I bought one yard on sale for $4.20, and had a few scraps left over that inspired Little Sister's nightgown project. So I made both of these pajamas for just over five bucks!  Bear with me while I show off some cutie pie pics--they really had fun with this "modeling
session"--then I'll get to the tutorial for the nightgown.

So, my photog skillz are not the best, so these photos aren't very sharp and some of them are cut off at weird angles, but it is definitely a challenge to get both of these guys at the same time.  We have one tiny blue alcove of uncluttered decent light in our house, and I did my best.  They had me working!


The old "no smiling allowed" trick
Big brother being a sweetie pie
Oops--Little Sister stepped on The Boy's foot
Who's bigger?

Trying out some fancy poses

Supermodel!  Man, when did he get so tall?
I can do it too!

Ok, so...it's about time I did another tutorial!  I've been lazy with the step-by-steps lately, so I tried to keep track of what I was doing here but it still was a lot of flying by the seat of my pants.  Let's see how this goes!

The idea with this nightgown was to re-use the neckline of an existing t-shirt to make a bodice, add new sleeves with the scraps of the pj fabric, and cut off the bottom to make a gathered skirt (reusing the original hem).  I have done this sort of t-shirt refashion before, but this time I wanted to figure out a way to finish the inside, so the raw edges of the ruffles were contained.  I did a kind of weird waistband application to achieve that, and I think it worked.  Hope I can explain what I did!

Here's what I started with:  a Youth Large cotton t-shirt, scrap fabric for sleeves, and scrap black fabric from an old knit maxi-skirt. I threaded my sewing machine up with a ball-point needle, helpful for sewing knits.  I have a serger but it's been acting funny lately, so I used my regular machine for this project.


I started by using a pattern piece to approximate a bodice shape.  This one is not a great example because this particular pattern piece is from a dress that is even above an empire waist--the skirt attaches above the armscye. But it was the one I had handy, so you get the idea.  You can also use a t-shirt that fits well to get an idea of what shape to cut.  It's pretty forgiving.



Next, I cut some sleeves out of the scrap fabric.  I  followed the curve I cut in the bodice and added some length. I wanted my sleeves to wing out a bit, so you can see how they extend down a bit at the bottom of the armhole.  I cut one sleeve first, and then used it as a pattern to cut the other sleeve.


Lay the bodice out right-side up so that the neckhole is in the middle.  Then lay the sleeves wrong-side up on top of the bodice and pin the middle of the curved edge of the sleeve to the shoulder seam.  I like to do both at the same time so that I make sure they are lined up.


Working your way along the curve, pin the sleeves along the armhole on both sides of the bodice.


Then sew your sleeves on.  If your sleeves are slimmer than mine, you may want to use a zig-zag stitch for a little stretch, but mine are loose enough that it wasn't an issue. I added my applique at this point--just by cutting around one of the animal shapes and sewing it to the center front of the bodice using a ball-point needle.


 Once your bodice is complete, fold it right-sides together and line up the sleeves and sides of the bodice.  I had to do a little trimming at this point to make sure my sleeves were lined up perfectly.

I trimmed off that extra orange you see there.
 After you've sewn the side seams of your bodice, you can hem the sleeves, or if your fabric rolls easily when you pull it like mine did, you can just leave a rolled raw edge on the sleeves.


I tacked the sleeve at the top and bottom to help the rolled edge stay in place.


Now you're ready to attach the skirt!

First, sew a gathering stitch around the top of the skirt piece.  There are a few ways I know of to do this, but they all start with sewing a basting stitch (just means setting your machine to the longest straight stitch length) with NO BACKSTITCHING.  And make sure you leave a nice long thread at the beginning, because you'll be using that to pull your gathers.

Some things that make this easier:
-sewing two rows of basting stitches right next to eachother for stability when pulling the gathers
-sewing halfway around the skirt and stopping, so you only have to gather half the skirt at once

But I'm lazy, so I just basted one row around the top of the skirt and gathered it up carefully (by pulling on the bobbin threads and gently pushing the fabric together).  I made it a little bit wider than the bodice, so I could stretch the bodice as I sewed them together.

One trick I like to do when gathering is to pull my bobbin threads to get the skirt to the width I want without worrying about keeping my gathers even, then tie my threads together so that the width stays the same while I THEN even out the gathers.

Threads tied together

Skirt gathered to slightly wider than the bodice
 Now this is where it gets weird.  You COULD just flip the skirt inside out, put the right-side-out bodice inside the skirt (upside down, so that the raw edges line up), and pin the skirt and bodice together and sew it, and you would be done. And it would be totally cute. But if you're not serging, you'd have ruffled raw edges on the inside of your nightgown. Definitely not the end of the world--Little Sister has several dresses I have made using that method that seem perfectly comfy--but I wanted to try to have a smooth inside that would by comfy for sleeping.

So I cut a waistband out of some contrasting knit fabric that I had laying around.  Same width as the bottom of the bodice, and about 4 inches wide.  I sewed it into a loop then pinned it, inside out, to the bottom of the bodice, so that the bottom edge of my waistband was about 3/4 of an inch above the bottom of the bodice.  Then I zig-zagged the bottom edge of the waistband in place.


Next I flipped the waistband down and pressed it, and I also pressed the raw edge at the bottom of the waistband under.

Pressed down

The fabric rolls, but can you see the line where I pressed the raw edge under?
 Once it was pressed, I flipped the waistband back up to expose that little strip of bodice sticking out under the waistband.


This is where it gets harder to see what's happening in the photos.  Before attaching the skirt to the bodice, you might want to use pins to mark the sides of the skirt, and the center back and center front (so four pins, spread out evenly around the top of the skirt) and do the same for the bodice, so that you can make sure you're lining them up evenly.

I  put the WRONG SIDE OUT bodice inside of the RIGHT SIDE OUT skirt (which feels wrong, but is right for this method). So the WRONG SIDES of the fabrics are together.


Then I pinned the skirt to the raw edge of the bodice sticking out under the waistband.  I stretched the bodice slightly so they would fit together.


Then I sewed the bodice to the skirt, sewing below the basting stitch I used for making the gathers.  Now the ruffly raw edges are sticking out on the outside of the dress, and the inside is nice and smooth.

This is the Right side of the dress after attaching the skirt.  Yes, it's upside down--sorry! 
Next is trimming off the seam allowance where you attached the skirt and the bodice,then pressing what's left down.  Then fold the waistband down to cover the raw edges and topstitch it down.  Try to keep your gathers smooth as you do so.


The inside will have some flattened out gathers under the waistband, but no seam allowances making a ridge in there!

Finished inside
Both of the kids have been wanting to wear these pj's every night! And the matching pj's make me so happy.  I love sitting at the breakfast table bookended by these guys.  Wouldn't you?



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