Up-cycled Nightgowns – A (mini) Tutorial
We’ve recently been trying to nighttime potty train Dinah and I thought having little nightgowns might make it easier for her to go to the potty in the night. This way she doesn’t have to fiddle with pants. However, I didn’t want to go buy a bunch of nightgowns (cha-ching!) so I started looking at what I had around the house that might work. And voila!
I found a stack of Old Navy Perfect Tees from college/early married life/before children that were never going to fit me again. Perfect indeed! These were a great length, super soft and already hemmed!
These were REALLY easy to put together, so I thought I would share a little tutorial of how I made them.
*Disclaimer: I realize that there are better and more “correct” ways of doing some of this…but since I was making several of these and they were just for sleeping in, I cut some corners in order to make them faster. You could always follow my basic steps, but do things the “right” way if you wanted to sew these as gifts or for cute play dresses. Also, I chose not to finish any of my seams with a serger or zigzag stitch…mostly to save time, but the knit won’t fray and I feel like the seams are softer without the serged edge. Okay, here we go…
1. First, I made a little pattern. Basically I traced around an existing shirt of hers that had a good fit. The sleeves were really tricky for me and I experimented a bit before I got the shape I wanted. Craftiness Is Not Optional has a couple of tutorials that show how to do this and I pretty much followed her tips there.
2. Next, I turned the shirt inside-out and cut off the sleeves of the shirt. If the shirt was a V-neck I also cut off an inch or two of the shoulder (if it was crew neck I left the shoulder seams attached). On both styles I left the side seams attached.
3. Before moving on you should probably lightly press the shirt and sleeve pieces. I didn’t on my first two night gowns and the cutting got a little wonky.
4. Okay, now you are going to fold the shirt in half with the front on top (so you can see the collar). If it is a V-neck, match up the neck binding at the shoulder and side seams. Make sure the shirt lies nice and flat. Place the pattern on top and trace with a Sharpie or fabric marker. You’ll notice the pattern is only for the bodice. I just traced this top part and then connected the bodice to the existing side seam with a gently curving line. Cut out the nightgown along this traced line.
5. Do the same thing with the sleeves. Match up the bottom of the sleeve with the already hemmed existing sleeve. Trace and cut.
6. (Skip this step if your starting shirt was a crew neck.) Pin the shoulder pieces together (right sides facing), matching up the neck binding. Sew with a 1/2 inch seam and press.
7. I drafted my sleeve pattern so there would be slight puff, so at this point I gathered the top 4 inches of my sleeve pieces.
8. Turn the nightgown right-side-out and pin the sleeves (right sides facing) to the arm holes adjusting the gathering if necessary. Stitch with a 1/2 inch seam and remove gathering stitches. Press seam toward bodice.
9. Turn the nightgown inside-out again and lay flat. Match up bottom of sleeves and the side seams. Pin front and back together. Stitch the sides of the nightgown closed with a 1/2 seam. Start at the cuffs and pivot when you get to the armpit. You should be able to follow the gentle curve of the side and finish your stitch in the existing side seam. This way there is no need to deal with the hem or the bottom of the nightgown.
10. Turn your nightgown right-side-out and press the side seams.. If your starting shirt was a crew neck then you are finished! Yay!
If your starting shirt was a V-neck, there are a couple more steps:
Most of my V-neck shirts were too low-cut to leave as-is, so I added a little yoke…
First, cut a rectangle out of scrap knit (I had a bunch lying around from a T-shirt quilt my sister made). The measurements on this will vary depending on the width of your V-neck. For each shirt I would measure from the bottom of the V to the height I wanted the yoke to be (measurement Y). At that height I would measure across the V to determine the width (W). Be sure to measure about a 1/4 inch beyond the neck binding. To cut your rectangle, double your Y measurement to get the height of your rectangle and use W to get the width.
For example, in the shirt above I measured up from the bottom of the V and got 4 for my Y measurement. Then I measured across and got 6 for W. The rectangle I cut was 8 x 6 inches.
Fold this rectangle in half width-wise and pin to the inside of the nightgown.
Turn the nightgown right-side-out and topstitch in the ditch or along existing stitching lines to tack down the yoke piece.
Trim away the excess fabric.
And now you are done!
I think the nightgowns turned out really cute and will be handy as the weather starts warming up here.