achievement unlocked: cat print jersey jammies

I’m alive!

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& to prove it, behold my pajamas.

I am still suffering from some sewing malaise. I’ve been working through a spell of moderate depression, which has been dragging me down. One of these days soon I will muster up the energy to move some furniture around & create more of a cohesive sewing studio in my bedroom. I think that will be a big step toward getting motivated to sew more, but a lot of books need to be moved in the process, so I’ve been putting it off.

Which is really too bad, because I have been needing these pajamas for a few months. In my quest to wear a 100% handmade wardrobe, I have needed to make a lot of pajamas, because let’s be real: I wear pajamas ALL THE TIME. I have shorty pajamas with open backs & ribbon ties, cozy flannel old man-style pajamas sets, even a few comfy dresses that can double as pajamas if I’m feeling especially lazy. But I’ve really been needing some medium-weight pajamas with full length legs & short sleeves. What do you wear to bed when it’s like 65 degrees? Flannel is too warm, but shorts & a tank are too chilly.

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My solution is a basic Blanc tee from Blank Slate Patterns teamed with self-drafted pajama pants, sewn from this Lizzy House cat print jersey (I think the fabric is called “Cattitude”). & yeah, I didn’t have quite enough, so I subbed in solid fuchsia for one of the back legs. I probably could have eked the whole thing out of the yardage on hand if I’d made the pants a little shorter & a little slimmer, but oh well. The contrasting back leg kind of helps break up the sea of cat faces.

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Incidentally, I fully did wake up like this. No bra, uncombed hair. This is basically how I look 23 hours out of everyday, minimum.

This was a really straightforward project, kind of a palate cleanser in between all the work I am doing on another project. That project is the newest release from Colette, the dreaded Rue dress. I decided I wanted to try it for myself & see how poorlydrafted it really is. (Note that almost every participant in the Pattern Review Sewing Bee contest either “does not recommend” the pattern or “recommends with modifications”.) Yes, I actually purchased it with my own money. & the answer: it’s a complete disaster. It really deserves a whole series of blog posts of its own. the whole thing is a mess, but I actually just sat down yesterday & drafted a sleeve & an armscye from scratch because no human arm could possibly fit comfortably into the Colette draft. (Beware the pattern sample photos in which the model is obscuring the fit with a cardigan.) I really feel sorry from any brand new sewers thinking they’re going to have a good outcome with that pattern. I feel even worse for the people following the insane sewalong & picking a size based on their waist measurements. (My waist measurement puts me in a size 18. I cut a 12 & was absolutely swimming in it in the shoulders & bust, & I have a larger cup size than that for which Colette drafts.) Anyway! Those are war stories for another day.

The pajamas!

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I have a real love affair with the Blanc tee, just because it’s so damn comfy. There are more flattering t-shirt patterns in the world for sure, but this thing is quick & easy to sew, & just basically my platonic ideal of an easy tee.

I do a few construction things differently: I stabilize the shoulder seam so they don’t stretch (I used satin ribbon for this). The directions say to finished the neckline with a bias tape facing, but instead, I do a small, narrow zigzag where I want the turn to be. I press it under & then do a straight stitch at a slightly longer-than-usual stitch length.

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Voila! This gives a nice, tidy finish with no rippling or puckering, & without having to fuss with stabilizers. I’ve experimented with a few different ways of hemming knits, & I think this is my favorite. A zigzag stitch looks a little homemade (not in a good way), turning under clear elastic is bulky & sometimes it’s hard to get all the elastic tucked in, & turning under without the aid of that zigzag can result in an inconsistent hem width. I also love a banded finish, but if you’re aiming for simplicity &/or economy of fabric use, this is a quick & easy solution.

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I turned the bottom under with some hot pink ribbon. Just for fun.

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I’ve used this self-drafted pants pattern a few times for other pajama pants & shorts, & it even served as the base for my shorty overalls. Obviously it has a lot of ease, which I like in a pajama pants. I like being able to curl up & roll around without feeling constricted by my pajamas. & of course, there are pockets:

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I didn’t make a separate waistband piece. I just added a little extra (like 1.5″) to the rise & then sewed on elastic like you do with lingerie. I zigzagged it to the front, stretching the elastic as I went. Then I turned it to the inside & zigzagged in place. I find this method a lot easier than making a casing & feeding the elastic through, & it also precludes the possibility of the elastic getting twisted.

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I mean, this isn’t blue ribbon quality sewing, but for a basic pair of jammies, it’s fine.

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My favorite part of these pajamas is this cute little ribbon piping detail on the cuff. I had to cut the cuffs on the cross-grain due to fabric limitations, but with such a loose silhouette, it doesn’t matter. Truthfully, I had to cut the pink back leg on the cross-grain too. I only had half a yard of 60″ wide fabric. It worked out fine. I originally bought this cat print to make another Lady Skater dress, but I’m really glad I used it to make loose-fitting jammies, because the print is easily distorted under the most minimal degree of stretch. It would have looked awful on a dress bodice fitted with negative ease.

So that’s that! I wish I was wearing these pajamas right this second because they are so damn comfortable. I wish I was wearing them while curled up in bed with Sady Doyle’s book Trainwreck (I just can’t get enough of reading about feminism through the eye of pop culture–this is actually what I studied in college almost twenty years ago, believe it or not), but we’re going to a birthday party for one of Ramona’s preschool classmates this afternoon, so I am wearing real clothes instead (black Blanc tee & gray wrap skirt). There’s just no justice in this world.

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Naomi says:

    Hope your malaise lifts soon. I am also a living in pjs and wearing clothes to bed kind of girl but struggle to prioritise making pjs. Yours are delightful!

    1. Ciara says:

      I also struggled to prioritize pajamas for a long time. I guess a lot of people who learn to sew as adults start with basic pajama pants as one of their first projects, but I jumped right into the deep end with more complex projects. It’s hard to get excited about pajamas when what I really like to do is precision sewing like bras, jeans, & shirtdresses. But when I am actually getting dressed in the morning (…let’s be real, more like late afternoon) & I’m prioritizing comfort, those aren’t the things I reach for (with the exception of jeans that are fairly loose & worn-in). I usually go for either a knit dress or a big sweatshirt that may disguise the fact that I’m not wearing a bra.

      1. Naomi says:

        A woman after my own heart.

  2. Siobhan S says:

    Sorry you’ve had a bad time with your mental health recently. I know just how shitty that can be. Your PJs are super cute! Cat print for all!

    And the Rue: just….ugh. My feels for that pattern prompted a blog series about indie pattern companies. I’m actually really impressed you are managing to make something of it, but it’s rubbish that customers who shell out $20 for a pattern have to fix it to make it wearable/sewable.

    1. Ciara says:

      I know, I commented on your first post of the series a few days ago! It was kind of stop & go though because I kept being distracted by Ramona, so maybe I forgot to actually send the comment. Ugh. I just posted about the Rue on Instagram too. I mean, I am learning a lot from the pattern, in the form of how to correct bad drafting & how to draft for my own measurements. & if it all comes together the way I am envisioning, it will be a pretty cool dress that will get a lot of wear. But it is pretty ridiculous to think that I spent $18 & am having to show more skill than whoever drafted this mess in order to get there. I’m just kind of looking at the whole thing as an interesting experiment. I had to draft a sleeve from scratch to get something that fit halfways decently. If you would have told me even two years ago that I’d be drafting sleeves someday, I would have thought you were from an alternate dimension.

      The Rue is such a complete mess, I’m actually thinking about making another shirtdress, just to give myself a break. & shirtdresses aren’t exactly an easy breezy walk in the park, you know?

      At least I have my new jammies to comfort me in the meantime. Even though Ramona spilled pee all over them two seconds before she went to bed tonight. Ah, motherhood. So glamorous. Obviously they went straight into the hamper. I’ll do laundry & allow them to comfort me tomorrow when they’re clean.

      1. Siobhan S says:

        I just checked – your comment didn’t come through. I’m glad you are seeing Rue as a learning experience. If I had to perform those kinds of fitting adjustments, it would be more like BURN IT WITH FIRE. I feel so bad for any newbie who buys that pattern, it would be so confidence destroying to have all those issues when you just want to make a pretty dress.

        #mumlife sounds pretty glam!

        1. Ciara says:

          Bummer that my comment didn’t go through! Though it was basically just a synopsis of this post.

          I’ve put the Rue aside for now. I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to continue with my own modifications or if I’m going to wait for the redraft & take it from there. In the meantime, I’m making another McCall’s 6696 shirtdress: tried & true. Plus I’m using fabric from the Cotton + Steel Halloween line. I’m planning to wear it to the family Halloween party at Ramona’s preschool. Where it will probably get smeared with face paint & chocolate. Oh well!

  3. feministgina says:

    Sady Doyle has a book?! I used to love her on Tiger Beatdown when it was active, plus whatever place I found her before that (Television Without Pity, maybe?). I am going to have to check this out for sure.

    As I said on instagram, I am eager to see what you’l do with Rue. I actually liked Sarai’s “mistaken” version where the bust tucks are where they should be in the first place. If it didn’t cost $18 , I might actually buy it because interesting bodices are always good to have around, and with adjustments I think this one could be nice. Someone on the Pattern Review thread suggested that they copied this from a vintage pattern instead of drafting it themselves, which isn’t cool, but someone should use Rue as a base to create a pattern that actually doesn’t suck and then sell it! Someone could make an entire business out of correcting all the poor drafting in Colette patterns and then selling them.

    I wish I could make cute pajamas like this! I like to sleep in those spaghetti strap tanks with bust support and exercise shorts made of fabrics that keep you cool because I get so blazing hot when I sleep. Neither of those things seem worth making to me. I got a memory foam topper for my mattress to help with my back pain, and it makes me even hotter because apparently memory foam reflects your body heat back on you. I used to have an electric blanket on my bed, but between becoming a naturally overheated person and the memory foam topper, I can’t stand it anymore.

    1. Ciara says:

      Yes! It’s called “Trainwreck”. It’s kind of hard to explain what it’s about, but I will try: it’s about how we as a culture build famous women up only to sit back & enjoy it when they inevitably crash & burn under the weight of impossible female archetypes. It’s a pretty quick read. I polished it off in a couple of hours, but then, I am an insanely fast reader.

      We also got a memory foam mattress topper a few years ago. I am a really thrashy sleeper, & Jared basically sleeps like a corpse. Having a memory foam topper means I can thrash around without disturbing him too much, because it’s not bouncy like a regular mattress. I was worried about the heat reflection element, but it turns out I’m a pretty cold sleeper. I like lots of blankets & coziness. Jared & Ramona are both sweaty sleepers that prefer to only have one blanket or sheet.

      Glad we could have this little chat.

      But yeah, I am so glad I made these pajamas. I’ve been wearing them constantly. & I discovered a few yards of cat print lawn in my stash (the Heather Ross Marching Cats print) that I had forgotten, so I can make another set! Me-made pajamas were the biggest hole in my self-made wardrobe, given how much time I spend wearing pajamas, so I’m glad that’s finally being filled in.

      I like Sarai’s plaid Rue as well, though it’s total bullshit that she & the others at Colette are claiming that the fit was a “mistake”. I am curious to see what the redraft looks like, & I still think I can make some version of this dress work with enough effort, but absolutely no shade to anyone who doesn’t want to put that kind of work in. I’ve already put literally HOURS into flat pattern alterations & redrafts, & I’ve only cobbled together one muslin that doesn’t fit at all. There’s simply no way a newbie sewer could possibly get a good result from this pattern straight from the envelope.

  4. hoperoth says:

    Those jammies look super snuggly! I was in a bit of a malaise myself… not from depression (at least I don’t think it was), but just from too many hours at work and generally feeling exhausted. It didn’t help that LJ was refusing to go to bed. When you finally get your kid to fall asleep and then you realize it’s half an hour before your own bedtime… well, that’s when I decide to just read a magazine or something. Kristian and LJ went on a little vacation, just the two of them, this weekend and I got so. much done. I finished two whole baby quilt tops, finally made those pattern weights I’d been meaning to put together, sewed another block for the splendid sampler, and even cleaned my craft area. I’m missing them like crazy (they fly back tomorrow), but I also kinda wish they’d go on vacation every month. :p

    1. Ciara says:

      Yeah, Jared & I switched up our bedtime routine with Ramona recently. We just traded jobs, basically. He does the after-dinner dishes & does the actual putting to bed. I tidy up the house with Ramona, do potty, toothbrushing, bath, & jammies. It was pretty great for the first week, & I feel really fortunate that Ramona doesn’t really fight bedroom. She gets a little silly sometimes, but she pretty much goes right to bed & sleeps all night. (For now?) It’s just the silly interludes that bug the shit out of me. Running around the house naked instead of getting in the tub, rolling around on the floor instead of getting into jammies, playing with her toys instead of tidying them up. By the time the end of the day arrives, freedom (quiet) is so near at hand, & I am all out of patience. So I end up snapping at her, & then I feel bad because that’s not the note I want her to go to bed on, you know? A few days ago, the very last thing she did before bed was spill a potty full of pee on my slippers (while I was wearing them). It wasn’t THAT big of a deal. It was an accident, & they could be cleaned. But I was so tired, I just started crying & couldn’t even say goodnight to her properly. & then I spent a few days feeling like a garbage mom for reacting that way.

      Sometimes I daydream about getting an Airbnb or something for a few days, by myself, & bringing my sewing stuff with me, & just having a sewing vacay. I have only ever had one solo break from Ramona since she was born, when Jared’s parents took her for a few days. I think I was alone for four days? She flew back to Kansas with David & Alana. I’ve had a few other breaks, always with Jared, which is nice, but obviously not the same as being completely by yourself, beholden only to your own schedule & interests. & aside from that handful of times when his family has been able to watch her (while we were visiting Boston or they were visiting here–fewer than ten times total), we’ve only left her with a sitter maybe four times? & she’s almost four. It’s not about not wanting a break. It’s about not being able to afford one.

      1. hoperoth says:

        Oooof, that sounds really rough. Time to yourself is so key, and I don’t think that enough parents get that time. My husband and I try to give each other breaks, but then you’re not getting that time time together… We are very fortunate to have quite a few babysitting options, but we are bad about taking advantage of them. I wish I give you a break, but I think we’re a little too far away to just drop Ramona off for a sleepover. :p

        I was really missing K and LJ by the end of my long weekend, but then she started going on bedtime strike again, and I was like “yeah, I could use some more time.” She’ll sometimes yell until 9:30 at night! She doesn’t like going to bed by herself, but she’ll poke and prod you and babble at you if you give in and lie down with her. We have a nice bedtime routine, her room is setup just the way she likes it, I made her a special quilt to snuggle up under…. she just doesn’t like going to bed. I hate that feeling of “why won’t you just go to sleep so I can have 20 freaking minutes to myself?!”

        1. Ciara says:

          Hopefully someday we will have a little bit more income & we’ll be able to hire a sitter more. Plus, part of the issue was me not wanting to hire a sitter when she was little because I was traumatized by our separation while she was in the NICU. I still kind of freak out when she’s with a sitter, but it’s getting easier as she gets older & more independent.

          Ramona’s okay about bedtime–like, she doesn’t go to sleep right away, but she just hangs out in there amusing herself until she falls asleep. Quiet time on the other hand…I’ve given up on naptime. She doesn’t nap. But I insist on a daily quiet time because I need the break. She came out today six times in one hour to ask me to help her find certain books or toys. I’ve told her repeatedly that she can summon me if she needs help with the potty, but that she is otherwise on her own. She can look at any book or play with any toy as long as she stays in her room. I’ve tried audiobooks, special toys that only come out at quiet time, lights on, lights off, special quiet time outfits, it doesn’t matter. She just won’t stay in there, & then quiet time turns into a battle of trying to get her to stay in her room, which isn’t very restful for me. Ugh!

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