Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kiddo Pajamas - a Tutorial!

I had this inspiration to make pajamas for the clever girl.  Most jammies are the cotton knit sort but I thought a lightweight cotton would be comfy, so I went to work!  For material, I used and old sheet that my sister had stamped a decoration on and given to me as a gift about a zillion years ago.  We got a bigger bed, the sheets got put in a stack of sheets for the guest room and they are rarely used.  They are super soft and with that cute stamped border I figured they'd make great pajamas.  I can honestly say that when I showed them to the clever girl, her first comment was "Momma, they are so soft and snuggle-y!"  She now calls them the snuggle-y pajamas.  Don't overlook old sheets when thinking of material for sewing!  Re-purpose some old sheets into something soft and snuggle-y! 

The pants were the easy part.  I went over to MADE and used her tutorial for kid pants!  Her tutorial is for size 2-3, so I increased the long side by 1/2 inch in width, made the pants leg 1/2 inch longer, and made the rise 1 inch longer.  The pants are big and roomy on the clever girl, so there is definite room to grow.  Since I used the sheet border as the hem, I wanted to make sure the pants were plenty long since I would not be creating a big hem that could later be let down.  As is, the pants pool around her feet a bit but that is alright with me.

This is my first clothing tutorial type thing so bear with me.  I did not take any pictures along the way so I will do my best to be super descriptive.  For the top, I first sketched it out on a piece of paper, as shown below.  The measurements provided are FINISHED sizes.

The clever girl's chest is approximately 21 inches, so I made the jammie top 24 inches around.  I think the extra 3 inches is about right.  Originally I made it wider but that was just too big so I took it in.  And I wanted the length to go down well past her waistline.

Let's get to work!
Cut your pieces:
If you are using a sheet and want the border along the chest, carefully cut it off along the stitch-line.  You may need to seam rip and snip off extra material in the middle under the stitches, but in the end you should end up with one strip of material that is really well pressed in a fold.

Chest piece:
First, take your child's chest size and divide by 2.  The clever girl has a 21 inch chest, so that gives me 10.5. Add 1.5 inches for comfort, plus your seam allowance.   So for the clever girl, the length of the border piece will be 10 1/2 + 1 1/2 + 1 (a seam allowance for both sides) = 13 inches.  Cut two pieces that are the width of your border piece and 13 inches long. 

Skirt part:
I like the skirt part of the top to be gathered but not TOO full, so I think a 1.5 increase works.  So take the length of your border piece (13 inches for mine) x 1.5 = 19 1/2 inches.  For the length, I wanted the total top to be 14 1/2 inches from armpit to hem.  My border piece was 3 3/4 inches wide.  14 1/2 - 3 3/4 = 10 3/4 inches.  I wanted a fairly wide hem on the bottom, so I added in 1 1/2 inches for the hem.   Plus add 1/2 inch for the top hem that will be gathered into the border.  10 3/4 + 1 1/2 (hem) + 1/2 (top seam)  = 12 3/4 inches.  Cut two rectangles that are 19 1/2 inches wide by 12 3/4 inches long.

Use another sleeveless shirt as a pattern for the spacing and length of the straps.  The width of the straps is 4 inches.  This allots for a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  The clever girl's straps needed to be 7 1/2 inches long.  To this I added 1/2 inch seam allowance on both ends plus 1 inch of overlap on each end for attaching to the border.  So each strap length was 7 1/2 + 1(seam allowances) +  2 (overlap) = 10 1/2 inches long.  Cut two rectangles that are 4 inches by 10 1/2 inches.

Let's sew!
  1. Gather the skirt pieces by making 2 rows of wide basting stitches, one that is 1/4 inch from the edge and one that is 5/8 inch from the edge.  Find the middle of the top of the skirt piece and pin it to the middle of the border piece, right sides together.  Make sure the border piece is unfolded at this point.  Gather the top to match the size of the border and press the gathers to set.  Sew together with a 1/2 inch seam.  Press the seam towards the border.  Repeat for the other skirt piece.  Remove the visible basting stitches.
  2. Press a 3/8 inch hem into the other  long side of the border piece.  This part will lay over the top of the gathers.  Pin in place over the gathers.  From the FRONT, run a topstitch close to the seam, catching the back of the border.  Repeat for the other top piece.
  3. With right sides together, sew the top front to the top back with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  At this point your two pieces may be identical, so you will just have to choose a front and back.  Press your seam and then over-cast stitch or serge each edge.
  4. Now we will make the straps.  With right sides together, fold one rectangle in half lengthwise, so your rectangle is now 2 inches by 10 1/2 inches.  Sew together along one of the short sides and the open long side, with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Clip the sewn corner and turn the strap right side out and press.  Fold the open end of the strap inside itself 1/2 inch, hiding the raw edges.  Press.  Topstitch along all sides of the rectangle.  Repeat for the other strap.
  5. Determine how far apart your straps should be in order to fit your kid.  For the clever girl, I wanted her straps to be 5 1/4 inches apart from the inside edges of the straps.  5 1/4 + 1 1/2 (strap width) + 1 1/2 (second strap) = 8 1/4 inches.  The top is 12 inches across, so  that leaves 3 3/4 inches for the armpit areas.  Divide that by 2 (2 armpits!) and you now have 1 7/8 inches between each side seam and the edge of the strap.  Pin the strap in place on the wrong side, overlapping the strap 1 inch into the bodice.  Do this all the way around the top.  The straps on the front should line up exactly with the straps in the back, but you may need to make a few adjustments.  Double check to make sure the actual strap length is still accurate for your kid.  Sew in place by sewing directly over the topstitch lines on the straps for the bottom and sides, and then complete a rectangle by sewing right along the edge of the pajama top.  
  6. Hem the top.  Press the bottom edge of the skirt to the inside 1/2 inch, and then again 1 inch.  Topstitch along the top fold.
  7. If you have a tag, sew it into the back and you are done!
You just made your kiddo some amazingly soft jammies!  Obviously, you don't have to use a sheet to make these jammies.  If you use other fabric, adjust the dimensions accordingly if you change the width of the border piece.  Make it your own!  I would love to see photos of your creations!

I am thinking of making a nightgown with the same top pattern, just much much longer!

By the way, yes my daughter is still in her toddler bed!  I know!  She is 4!  I have a plan in mind for a "big girl" bed but I just have to get to it.  I have decided to make a quilt for a new bed and of course I have to actually MAKE the quilt.  Oh, and I have never made a quilt before.  That is worth mentioning here.  Never one to start small, myself.  Just jump in with two feet!  And, since I am truly over-ambitious, I am going to also make her a new bed frame for that new bed.  Yep, I have an idea in mind for that one too.  These will be blog posts for the future, when these projects start to actually transpire!

In case you are wondering, the sheets on the clever girl's bed were made from fabric bought from Ikea.  I made a fitted crib sheet and then made a top sheet and pillowcase to go with it.  I love this fabric with the happy vegetables all over it!

Sweet dreams, clever girl!

If you have any questions about the jammies, please feel free to contact me.  I'll do my best to explain my process.  Next time I promise I'll do better with photos!


  1. I really love the bedding. (the veggie sheets) Where did you get them?

    1. Thanks, Megan. I made the bedding from some fabric I got at Ikea. It has been a while, so I don't know if they still have it... It was in the pre-cut section and came all rolled up in a loose bolt. I don't see it online, but it is possible that hey could have it in the store. Good luck!


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