I am very happy to report that my eldest sister is now sleeping in her brand new, pink satin pajamas made by me. There was a mountain load of alterations and scary decisions to make while sewing these, so it was certainly a joyful moment when I finished sewing the last button on!
Before I start picking apart the construction process and whatnot, let me give you some shots of the finished piece; because I know you are just dying to see it. Let me point out to you now that this pink polyester satin was really hard to photograph. It is a shimmering fabric so it picked up the light every now and then.
So here's the front:
And the back:
Don't forget the pants!
And here's the collar:
Now let me run you through the whole sewing process. I did start telling the tale a few weeks ago here
, so make sure you review it so that there will be no need for me to do a recap! I left off cutting the underlining. Right off the bat I had some trouble.
Cutting the Underlining -- When I was laying out my underlining fabric--which happened to be an ivory taffeta lining--I found that the crosswise cut wasn't perfectly square in relation to the selvage edge. It appeared to me that the fabric was off-grain, so I stretched it every which way to see if I can put it "back in shape," but nothing I was doing helped. Here is what the fabric looked like:
The fabric should fall along the black line I drew here:
In the pass, I've sort of rushed through the fabric preparation stage (mainly due to ignorance). Lately, I've been reading up on the subject of straightening the grain of the fabric, so this askew taffeta was bugging me for sure.
I asked Stephanie of The Naked Seamstress
about this and she said that slippery fabrics such as my taffeta are usually hard to manipulate into shape. She further said that I needn't worry so much about my fabric problem because it wasn't a severe case. "Cut away!" she said, and that is exactly what I did. If the fabric was more askew I might have spent more time pulling and tugging to set it straight. In conclusion. . . The cut pieces were 100% perfect.
So I cut out the bodice pieces (both fronts and the back), from the taffeta fabric and I cut the pants from lightweight white lawn. I chose not to underline the sleeves. I decided not to use the taffeta for everything because it is a pricer fabric and I wanted to stay within budget.
Basting the Underlining -- I laid the fashion fabric right side down on my table and placed the underlining, right side up, on top of the fashion fabric. In other words, wrong sides together. I then basted the two layers together, about 1/2" from the edge. I then used the two layers as one.
A Change of "Seam" -- In my previous post about my Satin Pajamas #2, I spoke about using the flat felled seam. I switched to a normal seam with serged finishing at the last moment. Did this for a number of reasons. I noticed that the bodice side seams were slightly curved, I felt I might adjust the fit during the construction process, and it was proving to be difficult to do this type of seam with slippery underlining.
Rolling Along -- I used a vintage jacket pattern for the pajama top so there were some interesting details. Like shoulder and elbow darts; ordinary for a jacket, yes, but not for pajamas.
I also added inseam pockets to the pants.
And used some of the pink, striped fabric for the pocket lining.
I like to try new hems any chance I get, so for the pajama top I serged the edge, turned it to the inside, catch-stitched it in place, and then finally did an edge stitch right near the fold. I used my clear embroidery presser foot for the edge stitching in order to get as close as I possibly could.
When I was catch-stitching I made sure to only sew through the underlining. This makes my hemming stitches virtually invisible from the public side:
For the pants, I used a normal, narrow hem:
I was able to catch-stitch the neck facing down instead of just tacking it at the shoulder seams, like you would normally do. Really helps keep the facing from popping up. And of course no stitching can be seen on the outside. Yay for underlining!
I added a drawstring to the waist band of the pants for extra support (or in case of elastic coming apart). I used a length of satin ribbon and threaded it through the same casing as the elastic. I made two buttonholes in the center front so the two ends of the drawstring may be adjusted and tied.
Speaking of the pants, here is a look at the cotton lawn used for the underlining:
One of the main details that I liked about this jacket-made-pajama top is the sleeve band addition. Sleeve bands just say "pajamas."
My sister wanted an extra button on the pajama top and she wanted the buttons raised. I raised them about 1" and because of this alteration, the collar couldn't lay perfectly flat.
So I tacked down the lower sections of the collar to the bodice. No problemo!
One final detail to share. The patch pocket that was sewn to the pajama top's left front.
Noted Adjustments -- When trying on the pajama top, my sister and I found some problem areas. First we noticed too much ease in the waist area and we also saw that it was too long. So I removed 2" from the side seams and eliminated 1-1/2" at the hem to make it shorter. Worked out just fine! The next trouble area that we saw was the sleeve. It had nasty looking wrinkles running all the way down and to tell you the truth, I was scared to death. I HAVE DONE NO SLEEVE ALTERATIONS! Ever! What was I to do? I looked through The Perfect Fit book I own, but I just couldn't find anything that applied to my situation. I then looked at Pattern Fitting with Confidence and read about "bias fold wrinkles." This type of wrinkle, which looked very much like my sleeve wrinkles, is caused by too much length and width. The example in the book showed only a pant pattern being altered by removing length from the waist and width from the leg. "Maybe I could use that with the sleeve?" I wondered.
There was no other alternative; I went with it. I first pinned the excess fabric to calculate the amount to remove:
I then removed that length from the sleeve cap area and pinned it in place.
My goodness! What a difference it made. So after trying it on for fit, I basted the sleeve to the bodice, fitted it again, basted, fitted it again, basted. . . Getting the picture? Sleeves can be hard to fit when altering during construction. Would have been better if I altered the pattern tissue but I just didn't want to make a muslin for pajamas, you know? Once I was happy with everything, I stitched the sleeve. I cut away the extra fabric and finished my allowances. Very happy with the results.
Conclusion -- I'm pleased with how it turned out. Wouldn't have thought I would be saying that during those trying moments. Two things I should remember when I'm in the middle of sewing distress:
1. Leave! Yes, just drop the project and spend the rest of the day not thinking of it. By the next morning I will feel like tackling it again. If I don't, just wait a little bit longer.
2. Think about the recipient! My sister is well worth going the extra mile, so roll back the sleeves and get to work.
3. Don't start another sewing project! It has never been a good idea to start something else when in this state of mind. I have an incredibly hard time going back to the first project when I'm blissfully starting a new one. Don't ask me why!
My sister is also happy with the results. However, she has one small problem: the sleeves are two narrow in the elbow area. Next time I might want to change the dart to fullness or make a large dart. The dart does release its fullness at the apex of her elbow so I know it isn't the dart placement.
Lengthy post, huh? To add to the climax of my PJ story (haha), I leave you with a couple more shots. . .
Benny the Cat (pictured above), is our little princess and wants a pair of pretty pink PJ's for herself. Ah, Benny, you are so spoiled.
Labels: pajamas, sewing