One of the really great things about my life is that I have four daughters. Count ‘em, four. That’s a lot of little hairdos, and purses, and doll clothes, and chapstick. It’s a lot of wonderful. But one thing that cannot be denied is that it is also seriously difficult to sew for them. Want to make Easter dresses? Just start at Thanksgiving. They are so fun to sew for, and they love it so much. But it is so hard to make that much of anything. Combine that with my love of cozy jammies for all and you have a problem.
To me, clean cozy jammies are one of the greatest things about being little. Because no one else really appreciates them but you. It isn’t about family photos or church appearances. Clean jammies say, “Mama loves you” like almost nothing else. Wait thats totally not true. Tons of things say that. Tons of things shout that, but jammies whisper it? Whatever. The point is – I like jammies, and I like my kids to have cute ones.
Needless to say, most of the time they don’t. We have more than our fair share of halves of jammie sets of yore lingering on and handed down to whoever claims them. We have people wandering through in outgrown undershirts with too tight of leggings. But my point here is that we try to not have that. We aim higher.
One of my little standby solutions through the years has been the t-shirt nightie. I make them, so it is very personal and loving. They take about 4 minutes total, even when everyone breathes over your shoulder the whole time, so they are also realistic. They are cute! The girls love them to bits. When they get taller and taller they pair beautifully with a pair of random pajama bottoms that have somehow snuck through all the purges. And guess what?! They cost hardly anything (I have no trouble finding cute pajamas for my girls, but when you are shopping for four and everyone needs more than one pair, and each pair is $25 the tender beauty of a mother’s love as manifested in cute jammies gets too costly to matter anymore).
I buy the t-shirts at Michaels, and they go on sale very regularly. I saw them down to 5/ $10 for Memorial Day. If your girls are very tall they will need two t-shirts per nightie. I’d say starting around a size 6-7 you might want a little extra length. I go with contrasting colors. I have settled on the adult large as the most flexible size. All my girls, from a size 3T to a 12 wear ones that start as adult large. You will also need some fold-over elastic. I buy mine in the cloth diapering section of JoAnn’s. It comes in all kinds of cute colors and is super soft and great to work with.
So having chosen which tee you are going to use for the main body of the nightie (for the one pictured I used navy), lay it out on your table and cut the whole neck off. About two inches from the sleeve seam, in a gentle scoop across. Like so:
Now – If you need to lengthen the nightie, cut the body off of another colored shirt (green in the one pictured). Then simply pin the tube of the body of the second shirt onto the body of the first. I let the hem of the main color be on the outside, so I can sew them together using the stitches of the hem as a guideline. Because I am always in a hurry on these, I always use some random color of thread that contrasts. That way it looks a little bit intentional, even if your stitching wobbles all over the place like mine, and you don’t have to bother with rethreading. At this phase, sew them together. You can tell I threw in a little zig zag there, because this was before all the kids started breathing on my neck and climbing on the back of my chair (you know who you are, Blaire).
Now you can throw on whatever extra embellishments you want. I used the back of an outgrown t-shirt of Blaire’s to make a book sized pocket for Lina. We threw in a little extra red heart. Just top stitch, because with cotton knits it will not unravel. Now for the neck. This is where I did not take any pictures because I had way too many helpers at this juncture. But – you will take a length of elastic that is about an inch or so shorter than you want the neck to be when all is said and done. Right sides together (elastic only), sew the ends together. You should have a loop about the size of a neck hole.
If you have never worked with this elastic, it is quite simple. It folds in half really easily. I put one pin on each shoulder of the neck opening, just to mark the half way point. Now start sewing a top stitch along the elastic – stretching it out as you go and tucking the loose cut end of the tee shirt into it. Keeping an eye on the half-way point to make sure you can fit it all in. Just sew the loop all the way around. There you go. A gathered neck! The little yellow bow I put on this is just a strip of a yellow tee – about an inch wide, pulled on each end so it rolls into a tube. Tie it in a bow, and tack it on. Voila! A nightie!