I am a very lucky person that somewhere along the line I learned how to sew. I’m sure my mom taught me, she has certainly taught me tricks over time but I have no clear recollection of being taught (same with sailing, not like I’m awesome but I can do it and I’m not sure when or how I learned). Anyway the ability to sew is apparently more and more rare and I have it. The need for sewing is actually not very great if your life is basically the ‘normal’ hobbies – my ability to sew was cemented by the SCA – because most fabric based stuff is pretty easy to buy and often less expensive than the fabric alone would be. That changes sewing from the way to save money that used to be to something in the craft/hobby world. (Personally I have saved tons of money sewing all my own curtains)
Anyway the point of all this is that I end up sewing when I can’t find what I want out there to buy. The Tangled Costume is one example and I was SO RIGHT that the ones you could buy were chintzy and badly fitting things because we saw at least 5 other little girls in the various versions and even the most expensive one didn’t really look right and Niamh’s was most definitely the best. The post I did about how to make it is one of my top posts so at least a few others out there are looking for easy directions to making something they could not buy.
Pre Christmas, while spending too much on lots of stuff, I could not bring myself to buy matching Christmas morning PJ’s because I could not find any that I liked. The other issue is that Niamh most definitely prefers nightgowns and keeps wearing her 2 summer ones any time they are clean and our house is not the warmest place on earth this time of year. So I decided to just make a set and on Christmas eve (nothing like a deadline) I actually did the entire project and here is how.
How to make a child sized long sleeved nightgown
Purchase – 3 yards of flannel – this made a 3T and 2T nightgown
Used – surger, scissors, 1 button, sewing machine
Pattern – none, but I used a dress that fits Niamh and a t-shirt that fit Zoe – did this at nap time so no measuring but I know their sizes pretty well now. (I would suggest measuring the child)
Fold the fabric in half and position the reference item on top, centered on the fold. Mark the bodice and the sleeve line and I just carried the sleeve out to the edge of the fabric. ( Leave room, about ¾ in, to sew around the reference item)
Take the pieces you just cut, move them down the folded fabric and cut another set. You now have a front and back.
Stack your front and back pieces together, fold in half, cut a neck hole. Pick one to be the front and then trim it a little bit more.
**not shown because I did it at the end, cut one of these pieces in half – front or back your choice – but it would have been easier to do it at this point then when I did it at the end.
Sew each sleeve in this order;
- Along the top (long seam) with the good side facing in
- Make a cuff by turning the edge of the straight side – sew it down
- Surge the arm hole end – keep the curve shape as close as possible to how you cut it.
- Sew the bottom (good side in) from the cuff to the arm hole
Do this for each sleeve and you should have two tubes
Surge all around the bodice, be careful to keep the shape of the curve of the sleeve intact.
Using the sewing machine
– Finish the open edges on the bodice
- Turn under and sew the opening in the piece you cut in half
- Turn under and sew the neck hole, or, add bias tape to finish it
– Sew the bodice parts together –
- start with whatever your big piece is (not cut in half) then sew the cut in half parts to either side. This gives you one continuous edge to add the skirt onto and the ends are the opening you made (left open)
- Sew the top of the arm holes together
Put the bodice aside and go back to your fabric
The skirt is from empire waist (just under the arms) to the floor so cut a rectangle length accordingly. For Niamh (3T) the width of the fabric was enough fabric to make enough volume in the skirt, for Zoe (2T) I had to trim the width. You want about 1.5x the chest measure.
Surge top and bottom
Gather one edge. Way better instructions here (and her site is awesome too) you want the end result to be about an inch longer than the length of your bodice
Finish the bottom edge of the fabric with the sewing machine.
Order is up to you, this is how I did it;
Line up the bodice with the gathered end of the skirt. I do this by putting the skirt down good side up, then putting the bodice good side down on top of it (it looks upside-down) and line up the edge. Leave the extra skirt equally on either side of the bodice.
– Sew bodice to Skirt
– Sew up last seam of the skirt ( I used the serger)
The nightgown should be inside out now, keep it that way for the moment.
Inserting sleeves is one of the only tricky things. I turn the sleeve right way out with the nightgown inside out and then shove the sleeve into the arm hole and line up the curve, pin, and then sew carefully around the circle. If there is a mismatch make a tuck in a good spot so the circles are the same.
And that’s it – add a button or ribbon if you need to at the neck but otherwise it is ready to wear. Doing 2 of these took me about 1.5 hours of uninterrupted time.
PS. Still DeLurking week and all commenters this week are entered in a contest for a thing I make (there might even be options to choose from)