Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The T-shirt Pajama Project

The project of the day is Pajamas. My two year old daughter has no seasonably suitable/appropriately sized pajamas. As usual I had put off doing this (I'll do it right after I finish putting the binding on that quilt, I swear!) until my husband somewhat apologetically came out of her room, where he was attempting to put her to bed, and asked "does our daughter have any PJ's? Because I can't find any." At which point I was forced to admit that no, indeed, she does not have any, so just put something like a t-shirt on her and I'll figure out the pajama problem immediately and at once.

So this morning I looked around at my fabric and said "Pajamas. For summer." Then I looked at our closet. Where I noticed that my husband has a number of t-shirts the armpits of which have completely disintegrated. I thought, ah hah! a source of fabric! It's lightweight, I already have it, and it's a much better use for the t-shirts than throwing them out. Besides, not much is more comfy than a worn in t-shirt.

I started out using a t-shirt that fits her as a template. As you can see there's plenty of fabric to work with. (Sometimes having a husband roughly the size of a woolly mammoth comes in really handy) 

Using the T-shirt as I guide, I cut out the body pieces. I kept the neck edge intact, because I want to use that! 

 Leaving some extra for seam allowance, I cut (only the top layer!) for the shoulders. That finished the front. For the back, I flipped it over, stretched out the shoulders, and used the back of template as a guide.
 I cut the sleeve off one side, the strip leftover will be the underarm gusset. 

Then I stacked the two sleeves together, carefully lining up the hemmed edges, and cut out the sleeves of the Pajamas. This length gives me a sort of 3/4 sleeve look. 

The shorts were the easiest part. I used my handy dandy sense and sensibility pantaloons pattern, shortened the legs and made them a little more narrow in the body (I used the t-shirt's bottom hem for the cuffs). Probably what took me the longest was putting the elastic in, then getting Jade to hold still long enough for me to pin it to the right length without  stabbing her. 

To make the top, I sewed up the shoulders first, then centered the sleeves. Just cutting the sleeve at the same angle as the original T-shirt gives you a lightly shaped shoulder. 

Then I sewed one gusset to each side of the assembled piece, working from the hem to the sleeve cuff. This next bit is the only tricky bit of the whole assembly process. You fold the whole thing in half along the shoulder line, and working from the hem to the sleeve cuff, sew up the second side seam, and the under arm gusset, and the sleeve.  It gets tricky where the sleeve joins the body:

You have to sew past the edge of the sleeve and in the sleeve seam for the amount of your seam allowance (3/8 here). 

Then put the needle down, the presser foot up, turn the work 90 degrees, so you're sewing down the edge of the sleeve, and line everything up. 

the other little tricky bit is right at the end of the sleeve, where the tip of the gusset is. You have to line the top edge of the sleeve up with the gusset, not the other edge of the sleeve, and sew past the tip of the gusset. 

Then you put down the needle, pick up the presser foot, line up the sleeve edges and sew down to the end of the sleeve. Easy! 

Voila! the finished gusset! This gusset design is a bit fussy, but it makes efficient use of the fabric, and it makes a really roomy easy on/off shirt without a lot of fussing with the the sleeve cap, or any armhole shaping. 

The finished Pajama Top! The underarm gusset looks all wodgy when it's lying flat, but it really makes for a nice fit once the shirt is on. It's especially nice for toddlers who want to dress themselves, because it makes a wider sleeve opening, without making a huge baggy sleeve that they're going to drag in absolutely everything. 

Jade Models one of her new pairs of PJ's :) Two naptimes of sewing, and she has three new pairs. 

This is one of those projects that really makes me wish I had a serger. Sure, the raw edges on the seams won't fray since it's a knit, but all those flappy seam allowances bother me. I do, however, draw the line at making french or flat felled seams on knit boxer and tee pajamas like I do on all her other clothes. That's overkill even for me. But I can't help but look at them and think how tidy the insides would look all serged neatly...... 

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