sweet dreams. a toddler nightgown mini tutorial w/ a cheater's guide to shirring!

Sephira is getting so big!  I can't believe she'll be one soon!  She's outgrowing things so fast!!  I have been making things for her with extra room so I can get some mileage out of my creations.  I have been hoarding this super cute fabric for a while {err... maybe since before she was born...} and we've decided it was high time she get some more nightgowns!  I know it's a little hypocritical of my to say this since I have my reservations about babies in fancy dresses, but I love babies, well toddlers anyways, in nightgowns!

I was just finishing up my first pattern, a simple peasant bodice and sleeve pattern that is sized from 12m-7y.  I will be sharing that with you too!  Bear with me now, because this is my first attempt, and I followed a special formula to figure out the sizing and so far, it works just peachy!  You can download the pattern here & here.  Do with it as you will, because I know I am in no way reinventing the wheel.  I just wanted to try my hand at the world of pattern-making so consider this me dipping my toes in the water!  Make sure the page is printed w/o scaling and to view the pattern beforehand zoom to 100%.  Let me know if you have any questions about anything!
whipped cream?

oh geez. baby whippets
Ok, so back to the nightgown.  Last night we had just gotten back from all you can eat sushi {which is truly a household favorite!} and the baby was getting a bath because she literally exploded undetected till we were about to leave and hubby went to pick her up out of the highchair.  I hope I never forget the look on his face as long as I live!  If ever there were a pair of screaming eyes... hahaha...  man, oh, man- the sweater looked fine as we were sitting there, but the act of picking her up was like a tube of toothpaste but waaaaaaaaaay worse!  He lost the power of comprehension and speech-  I told him to go to the car and I'd pay and deal with Azriella, who, like everyone else {I hope anyways}, was oblivious to this natural disaster!  This kid explodes more than Azriella ever did and she lends no indication of the hazmat that has erupted in her pants... This has happened at least three times while we were out with her.  But this time she was literally covered in poop up to her neck!  I even found some on her arms!  Craziness!  Needless to say, she needed a bath.

Damnit, ok, so back to the nightgown.  While hubby was giving her a bath I thought this might be a good time to whip up a quick nightgown for the baby!  So I took my pattern bodice, made it a-lined and sized to fall just past her knees, then made the sleeves long with just a straight cut {not a-lined}.

Next, I just sewed the sleeves to the two body pieces by the tops only, matching raw edges and lining up arm curves {armscyes if you will}. Do one sleeve curve to one body piece, then the other sleeve curve to the other body piece then attach the remaining sleeve the same way.

Ultimately this is what you should have so far.
 And then I did a little cutesy shirred wrist... {insert eye roll from the public}
UGGGHHHH, shirring.  Is it just me or does anyone else cringe at the thought of properly winding and
sewing with elastic thread?!  I have done it successfully, but not without a full day of swearing, rewinding, begging, screaming, rewinding, trying again, pulling all of my tricks out of my bag, reading every tutorial on the subject and their little secrets...  Well.  I officially concede, elastic thread, you win.  I have a little foolproof trick up my sleeve {literally!}Wait for it...

1/8" elastic!!!!!!!!!!

Totally changing my life!  
  1. I just cut the length I want {usually a couple inches shorter as it gains a bit of length as it is stitched down.}
  2. Pull a sufficient amount of thread from the bobbin and top threads.
  3. Pin the opposite end to the piece where you would like to stop {in my example: from sleeve hem side A, pin down the "side B" opposite end of the hem).
  4. Backstitch, stitch a few stitches, and then PULL the generous threads while stretching out the elastic to its fullest.
  5. Stitch with a regular ol' straight stitch {you don't have to worry about breakage because it gathers back up}!
  6. Whaaaaatt!!!! That's it!  I absolutely could not be simpler.  I imagine you could totally do this with several lines of elastic it you wanted a full shirred effect.
Then sew up the body sides and sleeves of the nightgown in one long continuous seam on both sides.

I had to finish quick because the bath was done, so I just did a quick narrow rolled hem and used this soft cotton knit lace (attached in a similar way to the wrist gathers, only I used a wide three step zig-zag stitch) to finish the neckline.  Ideally I would have used 1/4" elastic, but I couldn't find my stash and the baby was rapidly falling asleep. And lastly, I added a little bow to the front because every little nightgown should have a bow on it I feel.
All in all, it turned out adorable!!!  And it only took me 30mins from start to finish!  Perfect!

Other than that, I have really been trying to kick back from sewing for the week... however I did manage to put together one sweet little dress.  I still have a couple of kinks to hammer out, but there will be a little tute on that soon as well.  I am trying to do a bunch of variations on the peasant bodice!  If you make a nightgown like the one above, please add it to the flickr group called "Peasantly Surprised" I created!  I'd love to see what you come up with!!!

This dress is so named because the ducks are climbing all over her from all different directions!
The stitching looks weird in pics but it's actually pretty cool in person.  It's red then white then green.

That's all for now! I hope this enlightens some of you sewing gals out there to whip up a million adorable nightgowns for your little chibi princesses!  It's too easy a project to pass up!

OH!  BTW!!  PicMonkey has collages ready now!!!!!!! Super Yeay!!!  Finally not so sad about Picnik! :-)

14 awesome sauce comments:

  1. I'm a sucker for nightgowns on my girls too. They just seem so sweet in them.

  2. Wish I could see the neck line you did a bit better, I know how to do the elastic neckline but I was interested in seeing how you got the lace on there.

    1. So sorry! I had just whipped that up so fast I neglected to go over that point! What I did personally was just stretched it (like the elastic by the wrists)and did a stretch stitch/ zigzag stitch to anchor it. HOWEVER! I didn't love the way it turned out, so I would recommend that, if you were to use it on a neckline, either do one of two things:

      1.) If you want a slightly less gathered look, first just fold 1/4" and press.Next just take the elastic and hide it inside the neckline about an 1/8" (really just enough too catch it in your stitching)and then just pull the elastic a lit bit while you stitch it down (not fully stretched like I did. and still do a zigzag stitch).


      2.) If you want the look of the lace but a more gathered neckline, I would recommend you first stitch the lace down (using the same technique as above but without the stretching). Then cut some 1/8" elastic (approximately 15"-17" of it) and do the straight stitch while stretching it to fit the neck hole (line? is that a better word?! :-). I'd say do this about a 1/2" to an inch from the top (whatever you desire).

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you need any further help!!!

  3. Thank you, I think I understand how to do it, I will attempt to try this weekend LOL I hope when I look at the pieces it just clicks LOL. Thanks again! Great Tutorial.

  4. Hi!! Did you ever end up making a tutorial for the Wacky Quacky dress? I am itching to try to make one!! I will be making a nightgown tonight. Thanks so much!! :]

  5. How many yards would you suggest for a size 6 gown? size 7 gown?

    1. I think 2 yards should be fine but depending on if you would like to add a ruffle I might suggest 1/ 4 to 1/2 yard more, whatever 3x the finished width of your hem will be. Good luck!

  6. Is the seam allowance 1" or less? I've got my fabric hauled out and ready to go just need to clear this up. Also do you have any suggestions about the a-line bit? Like is the bottom part of the bodice twice as wide as the top of the bodice? I can't really tell from the pictures. So looking forward to making my girl a gown - i bought the fabric way before she was even a thought.

    1. Krista! The seam allowance is 1/2" unless otherwise noted! Good Luck!!!

  7. How did you do the arms? Like, a pattern for the arms? I am new to sewing and I am a little lost on that point! :D Thanks for the help!

  8. How do I know what length to make the sleeves if this is a gift? Thanks!


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