The cold weather suddenly slammed us and it became glaringly obvious:
This is a quick sew-along, for those of you who’d like to have some special crafting time during the holiday. We start sewing December 1st and will be done by the 15th. I am offering a prize package upon completion! (Read more in this post’s first comment!)
And this is super-important:
For the best updates on the sew-along and the prize challenge, you must send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am supporting two patterns for this sew-along: Jalie 3244 (size 12 months to women’s 22) and Peek-a-boo’s Classic Footed Pajama (for size newborn to 12 years). I will be demonstrating the center zip application, not the inseam zipper application.
You can buy either pattern, or both, depending on which size range appeals to you. I will be following Jalie’s instructions and diagrams for construction (along with, of course, my personal preferences and improvements); the Peek-a-boo pattern will be used for the pattern blocks for smaller sizes.
Yes, I can’t get enough of Jalie! Do I sew with other patterns? Oh heck, yes. Have I met another pattern company with as large a size range? Not yet! And since I like sew-alongs to be as inclusive as possible, I favor large size ranges. Jalie has it all, though. Their patterns are stylish, timeless, well-drafted, and come with excellent instructions and line drawings. This pattern also comes in a printed version, or a PDF version. They can’t be beat! (NAYY, I am just a huge fan!)
We need three fabrics: the main fabric, ribbing, and a non-skid fabric for the footie soles.
So first: we are sewing with knits again! If you aren’t familiar with sewing with knits, or if you have had bad experiences, I recommend taking a deep breath, getting a cup of tea, and taking a couple minutes to read through my new-to-knits post, as well as – if you like – my other knit tutorials. Sewing with knit fabrics is not rocket science. But there are a few things to keep in mind – and trust me, the more experienced you get, the more you’ll love these fabrics!
The pattern recommends a main fabric with 30% stretch across the grain, and some mechanical stretch lengthwise. This first requirement is simple to determine: grip two points on the crossgrain of the fabric five inches apart, and stretch. The fabric will need to stretch to at least six and a half inches comfortably. For the length, you merely need the fabric to stretch a little. Most knits will. If the knit has good stretch and good recovery (it doesn’t “bag out” over the day as you wear it) – you have hit the jackpot for optimum PJ comfort!
For fabric yardage, consult the back of the pattern. Measure your intended client at their chest and inseam. Determine their size based on each – and use the largest yardage requirement between the two. I will be discussing how to grade the pattern when your chest and inseam are different sizes (in other words if you’re sewing for someone lanky or husky, or whatever term you like), during my first sewing post. Remember though – this is a relaxed-fit pajama, we are not fitting for a red carpet gown!
So on the back of the pattern, you will find the yardage of 59″ wide knit fabric you need to purchase for your size, as well as ribbing requirements for the sleeve cuff and, if you are skipping the footed part of the PJ, the ankle-cuff. In my case, I am using self-fabric for the sleeve ribbing. Self-fabric is a softer option with a less firm “grip” than most ribbings.
Finally – besides the main fabric(s) and the ribbing (if you’re using ribbing), you need a non-slip fabric. There are many different non-skid fabrics out there – and you might find some in surprising places. For example, you can find a red and black version that is a favorite of Émilie from Jalie Patterns at PajamaCity.com; FeatheredNest97030 on Etsy carries a black, swiss-dot version. Softer versions make a better looking curved foot seam; heavy duty versions will last longer.
After some shopping and review, I chose the ToughTek fabric from Two of A Kind Supplies on Etsy. To that end – yay! – shop owner Kate has generously donated a 10% off coupon for her shop, for those participating in the sew-along. You need to email me if you’d like this coupon.
Elastic is used in the back of the foot, for the footed version. Anything between 1/4″ to 1/2″ will work fine, but 3/8″ is ideal.
I use a cotton-wrapped poly for most my apparel. I tend to favor Mettler, but I also buy whatever is available to me when I’m in a pinch. Bargain-basement or old thread is a no-no, but Coats & Clark is fine – this is what I’m using here. I will be zig-zag finishing my seams.
The correct needle depends on the fabric you are using. In general, a jersey or ballpoint needle is best for natural-based stretch fabrics (wool, cotton, linen, etc), while a stretch needle will work well for synthetic stretch fabrics.
You will need a few other supplies: a tracing medium, interfacing and stabilizer.
You can trace with almost anything, and we could debate the merits for quite some time. You can use Swedish Tracing Medium, tissue paper, project paper from the copy supply store, newsprint, or – my personal favorite – sew-in interfacing.
I will be interfacing the seam allowance where the zipper is installed, as well as the cuffs.
I never sew knits without several kinds of washaway stabilizer. If nothing else, I use them to start and finish construction seams (I will be demonstrating the process).
What are washaway stabilizers? They are simply non-woven, non-knit products that stabilize either under or on top of the work, while we stitch, then are washed out with water and gentle agitation (or laundering). They make for better results on knits, and even the oldest, most antiquated zig zag sewing machine can sew knits easily using these methods. When it comes to washaway stabilizers, I always have a sticky and non-stick version on hand. I use Solvy’s Fabri Sticky Solvy (in a roll as well as printable sheets), and (for non-stick) Vilene plus. Bonus: the non-stick version can even be dissolved and painted on knit seam allowances to make for stable sewing – far cheaper than buying a stabilizing spray.
So – yeah. Pretty cool, huh?
Our sew-along starts December 1st. In the meantime, if you have any questions you can email, @kellyhogaboom on Twitter, or comment here. Please read the first comment, if you think you’ll be done sewing your pajamas by December 31st, and if you’d like to be entered in the prize challenge – lovely fabric goodies from Mood Fabrics, Nature’s Fabrics, and Jalie!
For those of you who celebrate the holidays – this time of year can get pretty overwhelming. I am wishing you a serene, lovely few months!