I love this little pattern. I’ve made all the views except D and E – view D is next on my ‘to do’ list. This pattern features a traditional nightdress, dressing gown and pyjama sets for girls aged 2-8. Oh and a blanket. The first time I made View A for my daughter Lillie, I followed the pattern to the letter and was pretty pleased with the results. However, revisiting this pattern sometime later with fresh eyes and, it has to be said, more skills and knowledge than I had when I first embarked on it, I can safely say my latest version is a world apart from the first. Here’s why:
1) I chose a more suitable fabric – I first made it up in a quilting weight cotton (suckered in by a cutesy print!) and whilst it had a decent hand it ended up being far too rigid, especially around the armscye and neck facings. This time I made it up using a Truella plain soft brushed cotton from Minerva Crafts (see here) which is beautifully soft.
2) I made my own bias binding – I initially used shop bought bias binding. I’m unlikely to do that again since I now know just how easy it is to make. The shop bought stuff again added far too much rigidity to the finished garment. Making my own from the same fabric as the nightdress itself meant, of course, that not only did it give a beautifully soft finish to the armscyes, it also matched perfectly. A total win.
3) I eschewed the button and elastic closure at the back neck – The pattern details the use of an elastic loop and button closure and, yes, this is what I did the first time around. But, ironing the just finished nightdress, I accidentally brushed the iron over the little elastic loop causing it to partially disintegrate before my eyes. This was before Lillie had even wore it. I may or may not have sworn loudly. Even a fabric Rouloux loop would be a better option here. Not only do I dislike the durability of elastic, I also don’t like the look. To me it just screams ‘homemade’. And whilst we’re very proud of our homemade garments, we want them to look professional amiright? So this time around I used a simple hook and eye closure (size 2) which is discreet, neat and sturdy.
4) Question the need for the neck facing – even in my final version I still utilised the neck facing just making sure that the fusible interfacing I used was a very, very lightweight woven. It’s fine and definitely makes a neat finish. However I think you could just as easily use bias binding to finish the neckline and omit the facing altogether.
5) I finished all the seams and used French seams where appropriate – oh yes, what a difference this makes and, I suspect, improves the durability of the garment which needs to be able to withstand frequent wear and washing. The pattern itself makes no real mention in the instructions as regards finishing seams. The first time round I used my overedge foot to ‘overlock’ the seams together. This time around I used French seams on the skirt element and enclosed the waist seam with my own bias binding. The garment now looks almost as pretty on the inside as it does on the outside. I think these finishes not only look way better but also make the garment much softer against the skin of the wearer.
6) Forget the recommended trims and embroidery! – or don’t if they’re your thing but frankly they’re not for me. I totally understand the purpose of these touches as they’re also functional, i.e. securing down the neck facing and waist seam into position. But provided you’ve tacked down these elements anyway at the inside seams (and understitched where possible) these decorative elements are not necessary. You could always use decorative top stitching with your machine rather than do the hand embroided running stitches. But yeah, fearing deviating from the pattern the first time around, I did embroider as dictated. To my mind the finished result just looked homespun and naff. In the end I negated the use of any top stitching element. The overall result was much ‘cleaner’; sometimes less really is more.
Final thoughts : paring back the pattern’s design elements, using the correct fabric, utilising a better closure and making your own matching bias binding turns this garment into a modern yet traditional classic.
Would I make it again : View A – yes, definitely. I’ve already earmarked the fabric!
I’m making View D next (and for the first time) – I’ll let you know my thoughts next time! Till then…
Cost of materials for the nightdress: £12 approx
Time to make : 8 hours including redrafting the pattern, cutting out and the actual sewing.