On my Sewing Table – 1920s Evening Dress

Oh my word, how fast is this year spinning by?  I still have a pile of fabrics to use up and patterns to find, not to mention still ploughing through daughter no2’s summer wishlist.  I have done pretty well using up stashed fabric this year, I haven’t calculated any totals yet, not measured anything, but I’m feeling positive that I’m going in the right direction!  The project I’m working on at the moment is also a stash bust, but only half.

Earlier in the year, I was asked by a friend to make a 1920s evening dress for her to attend a charity ball in September.  At the time I said, yes, why not?  Sounds like fun.  I started looking at patterns online and had a few ideas, then when I won a pattern of my choice from Decades of Style I thought I might as well pick something useful.  So together we decided on the Zig Zag dress.  I duly ordered it and promptly forgot all about it.

A couple of months passed and said friend mentioned that we probably ought to make a start on the dress…  OH DEAR!  I admitted total forgetfulness and then thought, where’s that pattern??  Decades of Style assured me that it had been sent out long ago, so someone else is enjoying my pattern – grrrr.  They sent out a new one, but of course, now we’re getting twitchy.  In the meantime we bought what we thought was the perfect fabric, but it was all Croft Mill Fabrics had left, and it was less than the Zig Zag dress required.  We needed to figure out contrast areas.

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Ideas based on the Decades of Style Zig Zag Dress

So I went back online, made a few sketches, had a few ideas.  Eventually we settled on a new design and I started to draft from her close fitting bodice block.  I drew a panel at the hip, divided the skirt into three and added 3cm of flare to the hemline of each panel.  The front and back bodice both got a v-neckline, the back deeper than the front.  Because the fabric has a zig-zag sequin motif I decided against any curves, so the hip panel is straight and angular.  The pattern pieces fitted comfortably on the fabric, I had enough black silk charmeuse in my stash to use for the lining, we were sorted.

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Top left, curved hip panel and fuller, non-paneled skirt with straight hip panel and 6 gored skirt. Right, straight hip panel in plain black with 6 gored skirt. Zig Zag sequin fabric, bottom left.

Except that we couldn’t decide whether the hip panel should be sequins or plain.  A general agreement on Instagram was that it should be sequins, you can never have enough!  I had only one way to make sure we were on the right track.  I had my friend hold the fabric up against herself and I tied a width of black chiffon around her hips.  Folding the fabric up to the finished length, we then looked in the mirror.  We liked what we saw, then I removed the chiffon…  Not so dramatic.  Even though we thought sequins would be better, turns out we both preferred it with a plain black hip panel!  Go figure.

The lining has been made up, all seams French seamed and the neckline stabilised with Vilene bias tape.  As of now the sequin fabric has been cut and I was left with masses of chopped sequins on the cutting table, and everywhere else in the sewing room where they’d ricocheted after being cut.  Thankfully my new vacuum cleaner made short work of the stuff on the carpet, but I’ve a feeling I’l be hoovering up sequins for a while yet.

Now my task is to hand baste the skirt seams, remove the sequins that are in the way and then machine the seams.  The sequins are attached to mesh, so there won’t be any fraying.  I’m tempted to run the seams under the overlocker, but I’m not sure it’ll play nicely with that fabric.

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Sequin casualites everywhere!

The Decades of Style pattern eventually turned up on Friday morning, sadly, too late for this project, but hopefully I’ll have occasion to use it.  I really appreciate the company sending out another pattern, who knows where the first one ended up, but I hope the person who has it eventually gets a conscience.  So, this is my task for the weekend and into next week.  I want to get it all finished by next weekend, partly so I know it’s done and partly because there are lots of piles of things still waiting on my cutting table!!

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BurdaStyle 7/8 trousers 105 May 2017

I’ve found another favourite trouser pattern to add to my list.  I liked the cropped wide trousers from the May 2017 edition immediately and dived into the stash almost straight away to find something suitable to cut up!  I went ahead and traced the 44 & 42 anyway. (44 for the waist, grading to the 42 at the hip and down)   I had an idea that a piece of grey chambray I’d bought from Croft Mill last year to make a top just might be good for this pattern.

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The fabric was narrow than that required, and although I had 2m, it wasn’t enough to make the trousers up as the pattern was.  The bottom part of the trouser leg is folded in half to make a deep cuff, that was the first bit to go, no double folding, just a deep hem.  Next, the easiest bit to change – the pocket linings.  I used a scrap of Liberty lawn, black and charcoal with madly bright printed flowers.

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I haven’t shortened the pattern at all, and I think maybe, just maybe, I should look at removing about 4cm from the length, in the main trouser section, probably a the knee line.  I’m happy with the length while wearing them, but when I see photos I do think they could possibly look better shorter.  Especially if I’m wearing flats.  They’re almost culottes, no pleats or extra width, but wearing them feels like wearing culottes, without the extra bulk.

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Enter version two!!  I was digging in the stash for something else entirely when I dug out a large-ish piece of lightweight black linen.  I immediately thought of the cropped trousers again, I don’t have a pair of black linen trousers yet.  This was a piece that had already been cut into, I cannot remember what else I’d made from it!  I used the pattern in the same way as the first pair, still not enough fabric to do the double cuffs.  The waistband facing is cut from white and black polka dot cotton, which is used for the pocket linings too.

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It just needed a bit of something else…  I thought there might be some silver ribbon or something in the ribbon box that could be useful and came up with a bit of silver piping instead!  It’s so cool on the edge of the pocket, but there is one drawback.  The pockets are nice and deep, the angle of entry just “gives” enough to be able to shove your hands in comfortably.  However, with the piping on a cotton tape this doesn’t really happen, not to mention the piping is not soft, the silver metallic threads are rough.  So it’s not as comfortable to shove my hands in these pockets as it is in the other pair.

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I love the back pocket, deep enough to hold my mobile phone 🙂  All buttons came from the stash, as did the zips, although I now have to replenish my stash of black invisible zips.  I have yet to make the full length version, but as it’s quite similar to others I have, I might give it a miss, enjoying the cropped versions for what’s let of our British summer (which already feels like autumn….)  I know southern Europe is struggling with the intense heatwave of the last few weeks, but I don’t think we’d mind if the Jet Stream shifted a little more north and brought us some of that heat for a little.

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In the mean time, I’m working on a 1920s flapper dress in gold and black sequins for a friend to wear to a themed ball early in September, trying to get my Morgan Boyfriend jeans to fit better and find the time to run up a black linen jumpsuit before it’s too late to wear it.  See you on the other side!!!

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Argentum

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Burda top 105 02/2016

The fourth, and most definitely not the last version of this top, Burda 105 from February 2016.  This is the result of a nice big stash bust!  In moving fabric from the original stash position in my bedroom cupboard, to it’s new home in the guest room cupboard (until it has a “permanent” home in the sewing room), I came across this gorgeous metallic silver embroidered linen.  I bought it in 2009 to make a corset.  Needless to say the corset has never seen the light of day, but I did have a decent amount of the fabric left-over to be useful.

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Combined with a small piece of cream linen from the scrapbox, which thankfully matched the embroidery, this top was born!  I think I might be able to make these in my sleep now.  I wish I could, at any rate!  Sewing in your sleep while still a. producing something wearable, and b. getting much needed rest would be a super power I could deal with.  The metallic linen is sturdier than the cream, because of the metallic finish and the embroidery.  This gives the top a more boxy shape than any of the other versions, which I quite like. I love wearing it with my Birkin Flares.

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I’ve had many comments on the top, it’s not often you see a lovely fabric like this.  I am concerned that the metallic finish might wash off (given the rotation it’s currently enjoying in my wardrobe, this is a major worry!), so I’m washing on a handwash cycle in the machine for now.  It doesn’t like the iron, so needs to be pressed on the reverse.

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I had to cut the back without a fold and meant to use a centre seam, but in the cutting out, because I hadn’t marked that it still needed seam, I cut along the back edge.  Clever…  However, because the fabric was to be a corset and I still had all the bits left over, I had a pile of cut and pressed self bias binding.  So using a 5mm seam on each back piece, a bias strip now forms the centre back.  It looks like it’s supposed to be there on the outside, so I’m not complaining.  So another successful stashbust for me!

Better Late Than Never

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Named Clothing Pulmu Pencil Skirt

Sometimes a project gets lost, forgotten about.  This is one of those.  It started out really well, it was last August (?) and the new Named Clothing collection was launched.  I immediately bought the Pulmu and Talvikki patterns, seeing daughters 1 & 2 in them.  Daughter no 1 bought black crepe for the skirt and we got cracking.  Two toiles were made, fitting sorted, no problem.  It all even went to Cornwall  for a week of seaside fun in September.  The plan was to finish it there because I was off to South Africa to look after my mum for 6 weeks and I knew the skirt would be needed while I was gone.

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I did finish it, but the hem was wrong, something was causing it to hang and droop in the middle.  But I was out of time to fix it so it languished until I returned.  But no sewing was done again until late January of this year, and the skirt was forgotten.  Daughter No 1 moved out in March, and still no skirt.  Eventually in July I found a bag of “fabric” that turned out to be items to be fixed or tweaked -and in there was the skirt!  As both daughters were visiting for a few days at the end of the month, it was a sign to get it sorted and given to her to finally be worn!

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So what was the problem?  Turns out that when I was cleverly shortening the pattern pieces I’d forgotten to remove an extra 1cm from the lining pieces, so they were longer than the shell.  Hence the drooping hem.  I unpicked the handstitched part of the hem and pulled the lining through the hole, marked a line perpendicular to the centre lines and folded up that rogue 1cm, stitching it down.  Then it all got pushed back and the hem restitched.  Volia!  Took all of about 30 minutes to do.  And almost a year to do it…

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When I first made the skirt, I did the loops and belt, but she didn’t like either.  The belt was dumped but I convinced her to keep the belt loops for now, she could use a thin silk scarf or a purchased belt instead.  She’s still not convinced about the belt loops though.

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But I love the skirt on her, it looks so totally different on her than on me!!  Obviously.  I love the pattern, it has fabulous shape and those side seams are great.

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I’d love to make one with different colours to emphasise the panel shapes, or use a stripe cut in different directions.  Now to make her a Talvikki to go with the Pulmu!  Hope it doesn’t take another year…

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Roads Untravelled

And patterns unmade!  There’s one problem with buying Burda magazines every month for the last 20 years.  I have loads and loads and loads of patterns that I thought I’d make but have not got round to.  During Me Made May this year I spotted a rather nice top on my IG feed.  Turns out the pattern was one from a Burda magazine that I’d marked to make – you know the rest!

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top 124 Burda 05/2015

Having identified a lack of white tops in my wardrobe, it was decided to make the pattern up in some gorgeous white viscose voile from Croft Mill.  This fabric is to die for, just beautiful (but no longer available!).  Having bought 2 metres and found just how lovely it was, I immediately got another 3 to hide in the stash!  I know I’m supposed to be clearing it out, but this will be a useful stash, white never goes out of fashion.  *whispers* and I could always die it…

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The pattern is 124 from May 2015, available from the Burdastyle site as a download here.  I traced the 44 and added just the length part of a FBA as there was plenty of width for me.  I used the seam across the bust to add a total 3cm in length.  Seems to have worked pretty well.  Necklines too close to the neck aren’t usually my thing, I feel like I’m being strangled!  Scoop and v-necks are more my look, but this works.  The keyhole opening gives interest to the front (no mono-boob) and there’s enough room at the neck not to feel choked.

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French seams and double turned hems keep the insides all neat and tidy and the bias edges are lovely for the neckline.  I’ve worn this top at least one a week since making it, pretty much as soon as it’s clean and ironed, I’m wearing it again!  I think I need more white viscose voile tops!  The button is a vintage glass find from a local antique shop, so pretty!

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The silk version

I think it’s a good pattern for mixing and matching too, using scraps and odd ends of fabrics.  Just to test that theory I made another from stashed fabrics.  This top started with a piece of devine blue silk satin bought from Rosenberg and Son years and years ago (it was one of those you have to get, despite not having any idea when you’ll use it).  It was narrow and I’d cut bits out of the one end to use in a blouse about 5 years ago.  funny, that exact fabric is what I’m using in this top!  That blouse was the thinnest silk satin devore and it holied up pretty quickly.  But, as usual, I hadn’t thrown it out.

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My new top would combine fabrics again, but with the plain silk satin as the dominant fabric.  The back yoke and sleeves were cut from the larger areas of the original top and the blue fabric made up the rest.  It’s beautiful!!  The satin is heavier and drapier than the viscose voile, which has the effect of pulling down more – making that keyhole opening lower..  it’s fine while standing and walking, but when sitting, it’s a little too low.  Either I live with it or I do something about it, but I’m not sure what without totally ruining the look.

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Contrast fabric forming the sleeves and back yoke

French seams were not on the table this time round, the silk was too thick and would have left bulky evidence on the right side, so the overlocker was drafted in.  Hems aren’t double turned either, this stuff is slippery as all heck and a nightmare to turn on a tight curve!  Thankfully the bias behaved itself.  I really like this pattern, why did it take me two years to get round to making it up after marking it as interesting??

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I’m definitely going to be making more, it’s a pattern that could be useful for using up all sorts of smaller pieces of fabrics, and for playing with bias yokes – thinking stripes here.  I might even change the sleeve to a three quarter length and have some for my winter wardrobe, it’s about time to start thinking of warmer clothes now, like it or not.  And coats!!

Monochromatic

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Pulmu Pencil Skirt, Saunio Cardigan and Birgitte Tee

We’re slowly winding down on summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, not something I’m relishing.  I really miss those long southern summers and quick winters that were over just as soon as you were getting used to having to wear a jersey every day.  Of course, the end of July appearing doesn’t mean I am ready to show you the last of what I made in the month, I’ve barely scratched the surface, and still not finished what I got up to in June!

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But for today, I have an outfit I made for The Monthly Stitch, for Independent Pattern Month.  It’s the last week of the fling and the challenge was to sew an outfit of at least two items.  I’d already decided most definitely on one item, but it took a while to finalise the rest of the outfit.

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I started with the Named Clothing Pulmu Pencil Skirt.  In denim.  I know, the pattern clearly states a lightweight fabric, but I rather fancied the idea of making it in something sturdy.  I cut the 46 and after toiling it took in the side seams to remove the ease.  I wanted to use a denim with 2% stretch and wanted a fit a little more like a pair of jeans.  I also had to shorten it overall by 8cm.  I took out 2 between the waistline and hip, 3 between the hip and the knee and another 3 between the knee and the hem.

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Linen facings and zip guard on the Pulmu Skirt

In order to have a softer feel around the waist, the facings were cut from linen fabric from the scrap-box.  A zip guard was cut from the same fabric and it looks good with the dark denim of the skirt.  A decision was taken not to line the skirt.  I used the overlocker to neaten all the raw edges and I toyed with the idea of binding the hem and the allowances of the vent edges.  In the end I didn’t do it because it would mean using a third fabric and I didn’t like that idea.  The hems are mitered with an uneven mitre to avoid any edges showing.  They worked out really well.  I like the skirt, it’s the first one to live in my wardrobe for about 10 years!

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I decided against a woven for the top, going instead for a softer look with viscose jersey.  I had some lovely soft grey viscose jersey left over from a project completed earlier in the year and decided to make the Birgitte Basic Tee from Maria Denmark.  I can always do with more tee shirts!  Going with the v-neck, short sleeve version, I thought I’d need to do something a little “more” with it.  The morning I cut the tee out I’d needed to look out some sequin ribbons for a friend and I found a scrap of gold sequined fabric salvaged from a dress made ages ago.  I thought “I wonder if this is useful, what would it look like on the grey?”  and then, “ooo, I can put it on the shoulder!”  I picked the left shoulder because if any bags are going to be carried, they go on the right.

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Birgitte tee with sparkly shoulder

The Birgitte Tee is very quick and easy to make, so it was only a couple hours work.  I slightly stretched the jersey when I laid the sequined fabric on top so that it wouldn’t be pulling against the sequins once made up and being worn.  Then I pinned the scrap in place and tacked within the seam allowance.  I removed the larger sequins from the seam allowance and got sewing.  I quite like the finished result, understated and simple, but with a bit of bling/sparkle.

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To round off the outfit I actually bought a piece of fabric!  Clothspot have this gorgeous black and silver striped ponte for a pretty good price.  I had the Saunio Cardigan from Named Clothing in mind.  Originally I wanted to make it in a woven – I have a piece of black and cream silk that would look fabulous in the Saunio’s shape, but there wasn’t nearly enough of the fabric to make it work.  The pattern is so quick to make!  Even with making sure I had pins in every second stripe, it took a couple of hours in an afternoon to complete.

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Love it when the stripes play nicely and line up on the side seam!

I widened the sleeve because I have “sturdy” arms(!) and knew, from the measurements, that this ponte would never have enough stretch to make the sleeves comfortable.  I love the finished length of the sleeves, I usually push all my sleeves up, but these finish at the perfect spot!  This is a great addition to my wardrobe, the colours go perfectly with everything else and I love the boxy shape and cropped length.  I’m going to wear it loads with my Birkin jeans!

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Ta-da! All done for another year!

So there you have it, my outfit for the Indie Royalty category.  I will try to catch up on the remains of June’s makes and the July stuff that didn’t fall into the Indie Month categories as soon as possible.  I seem to really have got cracking with the sewing since getting my own sewing room, but the stash isn’t going down quite as quickly as I’d hoped.  Best I get a move on then, Mr Not Compulsive has been dropping hints about never getting anything made for him and I have a good stash of Paul Smith shirtings!

Lounging Pajamas

Because these are no ordinary pjs!  I’ve finally upgraded my sleepwear collection this year, and these are the business.  I chose a couple of Mrs Depew pajama patterns earlier this year, determined that in my 40s I deserved better sleepwear than baggy tees and a couple of self drafted pants.  Last year I made a Kimono Robe, this year I’ve upped my game.

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Mrs Depew 1920s Pajama set 3068

The advent of Independent Pattern Month on The Monthly Stitch galvanised me to finally get cracking on these.   I thought the “New to Me” category would be perfect encouragement!  The pattern is Mrs Depew 3068, a reproduction of a 1920s pattern for a robe, top with either long or short sleeves and ankle length or knee length pants.  It’s one of those patterns you can see made up in fancy silk, trimmed with velvet and worn on the silver screen by a gorgeous platinum blonde.  I’m neither!

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I’d seen an interesting viscose jersey print on Croft Mill Fabric’s site, black with beige, but not all over (no longer in stock, unfortunately).  It looked abstract and I liked it for the pajama top.  The pattern isn’t drafted for stretch fabrics, but as I’m technically a size up from the largest size of the pattern, I figured stretch would be just fine!!  As it turns out, I think it would have worked just fine in a woven.  For the pants and robe I chose a beige viscose, also from Croft Mill.  There was black viscose in the stash that would be used for the bands on the pants and the robe.

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The pants were so quick and easy to make!  They consist of just two pieces, a leg and a band.  Couldn’t be easier.  I’m just not sure where those 20s ladies wore their pj pants, up under their boobs so the crotch depth worked, or with the MC Hammer look…  The crotch depth is – well, let’s just say they look like a baby elephant could fit in! 😀  For the sake of accuracy I’m photographing them as they are, but I feel they’ll have to be altered pretty soon.  I used the overlocker instead of French seams, you only have 1cm seam allowance (3/8 inches).  Although French seams are certainly do-able with just 1cm, I opted for speed!

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1920s Pj construction instructions

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The top was quick too, instructions for making are brief – think Burda on a major diet!  But there is a diagram to go with the minimal instructions and it’s numbered with corresponding notches on the pattern pieces, so it’s not all that tricky.  I left off the band at the bottom, the top was going to be long enough on me without it.  The neck band was interfaced with some of Gill Arnold’s knit interfacing to give it a bit of body and stability, as were the cuffs.  I decided to make the long sleeved version to go with the long pants as I’m intending these to be worn in the winter.  There is a small section of shirring at the shoulder instead of any darts.

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Mrs Depew 3068 Details

On to the robe.  Again, only three main pieces – front, back, and sleeves (in two lengths).  The borders were cut in the black viscose and seamed together in one long length before attaching them to the robe.  It pays to stitch a guideline on the inside to iron under the raw edge so that topstitching from the right side catches all the insides nice and neatly.  Also, although the instructions say nothing (naturally) don’t stitch the mitred corners from the edge of the fabric, start 1cm in so you can turn the corner properly!  The sleeve cuffs are double folded rectangles inserted into the armhole.

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I really like this pajama set and will happily make another!  The viscose feels lovely and luxurious, and I’m sure it will feel cool even in the late summer.  I just don’t want to think of what it will look like after one sleep!   It’ll be like napping in linen… And I’m definitely going to alter that crotch depth issue with the pants.  *edit*  I’m not changing the crotch length any more, they’re so damn comfy to sleep in!!!

 

**UPDATE**

My fabulous pajamas have been shortlisted in the “New to Me” category of IPM2017 on The Monthly Stitch!  Woohoo!! 🙂  To vote for me (if you’d like) – and two other brilliant projects, follow this link.