The Prodigious Pajama Caper of 2011

When I get home from work each day, I go from work clothes to pajamas in 60 seconds flat.  Realistically, it was only a matter of time before I realized my newfound sewing skills could net me an infinite supply of fun pajama pants.

Elizabeth and I caught one of those awesome sales at the local fabric store – you know the ones where a certain brand of pattern can be bought for $1 – $2?  We quickly figured out there is no excuse to spend the standard $15 on patterns anymore, unless it is a super unique one or something.  I think I bought my pajama pattern in early November as part of one of those sales.  I thought pajamas would make cute Christmas gifts for many of my family and friends.  And as a bonus, I could feed my own obsession.

I bought a variety of fabric – fleece, cotton, flannel.  Tons of different prints – anything is acceptable for pajamas!  I bought fabric with the following prints: white with various flowers, doggies playing guitar, yellow with hot pink owls, blue with fun yellow birdies & pink flowers, orange with black and white swirls, brown with different blue dogs, a gray plaid, and blue with Ariel, the little mermaid on them.  Above is a sample of the pajamas I made, all Christmas gifts.  All said and done, I have made 8 pairs of pajama pants to this point.  And I am fairly proud of myself – only two were for me! 😛  But admittedly the pink owls are on stand by for next time I need a confidence booster project.

Pajama pants require less than 3 yards of fabric.  I generally buy 3 yards to be safe, but thus far I have always had extra.  The pattern I use, McCall’s 5992, calls for about 2 and 3/4 yards, depending on the width of the fabric.  Even the very first pair I made took maybe 4 hours to finish (cutting was maybe an additional hour).  This is a GREAT beginner project, by far easier than the skirt and the Halloween costume.

Let’s see … what did I learn during this great pajama caper …

  • Overcasting techniques
  • More on elastic
  • Working with fabric that is considered “with Nap”
  • Reinforcement stitches

Up until this point, I had never really paid attention to properly “finishing” my seams.  Honestly, the pattern instructions don’t always remind you either.  Remembering to finish seams is still something I struggle with, even on my current projects.  It makes a huge difference to the neatness of your finished project and helps to prevent your projects from unraveling in say, the wash machine.  I was made painfully aware of this when I washed a skirt I made and part of the hem unraveled.  I do not look forward to mending this.  To overcast on most fabrics, I use stitch 06 on my machine (below is a picture of my machine stitches so you can find one to match on yours!).  I think you can also choose to use 07, or 08 if the fabric you are using is stretchy.  I like to trim the seams prior to overcasting as well.

While I am discussing stitches, the 02 stitch on my machine is a reinforcement stitch.  It is for use in places that get beat up a bit or are easily worn, such as the in-seam of a pair of pajama pants 😉  Maybe I am ridiculous, but from the picture I actually thought I would see three rows of straight stitching when I used it.  No.  The machine just goes over each stitch multiple times, so the stitching happens a lot slower than say a normal straight stitch. But you only get one line of stitches.

Using fabric “with nap” means that the fabric has a pattern with an implied direction. A good example is the Ariel fabric I used above.  I don’t want one pant leg to have Ariel’s head at the top while the other pant leg has her tail at the top.  Sometimes fabric without a pattern can still have a nap, such as velvet.  For this project, it was easy to deal with the nap, but I suspect this will be tricksy in future work.

The only additional thing I learned about elastic as I made pajama pants is that elastic guides are only moderately useful.  I find that it is better to decide how much elastic you need by actually wrapping elastic around your waist or your wrist and gauging how tight it feels.  For the pajama pants, I did not have to use bias tape to form the casing.  I simply folded over the fabric at the waistline, stitched it down leaving an opening, inserted the elastic with my handy dandy elastic threader, and stitched the casing closed.

Here is a sample pair of pajamas pants I made during the last two months:

OK fellow pajama junkies, go forth and make your first pair! 🙂


4 comments for “The Prodigious Pajama Caper of 2011

  1. February 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Those pjs sure look familiar…I’m wearing them as I type this! You and your pajama skills are amazing.

  2. Liz
    February 7, 2012 at 11:48 am

    I *just* got a PJ pattern- so excited to start whipping them up! Have you tried making the top?

  3. Jill F.
    February 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    You have an actual elastic threader? Wow. I don’t do much with elastic if I can help it, so my “elastic threader” is a bit more low tech – I just hook a big safety pin to the end of the elastic. 🙂

    • jadesabre9
      February 7, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      I heard about the safety pin trick, but for $3, the elastic threader is much easier. It has made itself worth the cost in just the 8 pairs of pajama pants!


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