Friday, June 12, 2009

PJ's Tutorial

I am sure there are lots of tutorials out there on how to make a pillowcase dress. But, I thought - hey why not try something different. This is my tweaked version.

What inspired this post is the fact that I hate....HATE... spending $10 or more on pajamas. I remember having really cute pajamas growing up (made by my mom) and I also remember sleeping in my Dad's T-shirts.

The problem... I don't want to spend a ton of time on pajamas right now (Charlotte has no summer clothes) and she is way too little for Dad's T-shirts.

Solution...Take Dad's T-shirt and with a little tweaking make it work for her little body, and it doesn't hurt that it is cute!!
I didn't take enough pictures the first time, so fabric changes during this explanation. If you make one I would love to see pictures, also leave comments about how confusing this is or ask questions (you can be anonymous). I will clarify in the comments.

Step 1: Measure how long you want the dress to be on the child. I like Charlotte's pjs to hit around the knee. I want it be about 15" long.

Step 2: Measure the length on the t-shirt. The existing hem will be the hem on the finished dress. Mark the line with pencil, disappearing ink pen, tailor chalk, etc..

Step3: Cut along the line.

(OPTIONAL) Step4: This old T-shirt has some labeling near the hem that I don't want, so I cut it off. Trim off the entire length. Now it will need a seam.

(OPTIONAL) Step 5: Pin the cut edges right sides together and sew. Make sure you use a stitch that has some stretch (check your machine manual for what it recommends) since you are sewing on knit.

(OPTIONAL) Step 6: Iron the seam open.

Step 7: Grab a piece of paper or card stock (use junk mail - it doesn't matter). Grab a sleeveless item or jumper and trace the armhole (you can use a shirt with a sleeve, just a little harder to trace). You can also just freehand the shape, it is a J shape.

******The armhole opening on the dress does not go all the way to the top of the shoulder, it has ties. So the top is really the height of the neck line - make sense?***************

For an 18 month old over 2.75" and down 2.5". Cut out the armhole from the paper (see orange card stock below - label the top and side - because it does matter).

Step 8: Lay armhole shape on t-shirt dress, lining the neckline with the top and the side with...well the side. Trace. Step 9: Cut out armholes.

Step 10: Cut out your bias binding: You will need:

2 pieces for across the chest (measure on the child or an item of clothing). For double fold bias, cut the bias strip 3 inches wide by the length you measured. Mine was 3X6.

2 pieces for the arms (I usually have to seam two together, so this really might be 4 pieces)
Mix and match prints, you don't have match - use your scraps. Since these are the ties, I made single fold bias, cut 1.5 inches wide and about 36 inches long (longer is better than ending up too short to tie a bow).

There is a great video tutorial for cutting bias at Click Binding Help to watch the tutorial.
Step 11: Prepare binding for the chest. Fold in half and iron, now it is 1.5 inches wide.

Step 12: Gather the neckline of the dress or pleat it or whatever you choose to get it down to the desired chest measurement. On this one I pleated it with several small pleats, the look is not that different from gathering. It was a waste of time, bigger pleats would be better.

To gather, run a gathering stitch (I just use the longest straight stitch on my machine) along the neckline. 1/2 inch from raw edge.
Step 13: Pin raw edges of bias binding to raw edge of dress neckline. If you pleated then the neckline should be the same length as your binding. If you are gathering the neckline then you will need to pull one of the thread tails in your gathering stitch to gather the material. Continue to pull and make gathers until the binding and the neckline are the same length.

This is before there are enough gathers for it to fit the binding.
Now the neckline fits the binding.

Sew with 5/8 inch inseam.

Press binding up.

Fold over to unfinished side, pin. Make sure the folded edge just covers your stitching.

Top stitch down.

Step 14: Press 1.5 inch bias binding in half.

Step 15: Pin one raw edge of 1.5 inch bias binding to raw edge of armhole, right sides together. Sew 1/2 inch inseam.

Step 16: Press binding up, press raw edge of binding toward center (the center fold you pressed in step 14).

Step 17: Fold binding over the armhole edge, sandwiching the knit fabric in the bias binding. Pin to hold in place. (Same as neck edge).

Step 18. Starting at one end of bias binding (which is not attached to the dress). Make sure raw edges are folded to center and top stitch close to the edge, continue the entire length of bias binding (you will be top stitching the loose edge to the dress when you pass along the armhole).
Step 19: Put dress on child and tie shoulders. Trim excess off and knot the ends.

Step 20: Add an applique if desired.


Katie said...

Yeah! You put so much work into this- Thanks! I will definitely try it out :)

Becky Jean said...

I am with you on spending money on PJ's! Thanks can't wait to try this out!

noreen said...

love your pattern, when I finally get a new sewing machine I will try this!
I just found the cutiest organic PJs at walmart for $5, it is a tshirt and pants for toddlers. I picked the hippo one as my youngest loves hippos

Cindy Dye said...

i completely love this idea! i don't see why these adorable dresses couldn't be used for playing times or even for wearing to town even. Just use a "nicer" tshirt maybe and voila, nice little quick top! I could see this working out quite nicely!!!! LOVE your work...very inspiring!!!!