So many pajama options available in stores are not exactly fun, sexy, and comfortable. It is easy to just throw on an old t-shirt and a pair of knit shorts before laying down in bed but maybe there is an equally comfortable but much prettier option for bedroomware.
This post is a beginning level patterning project to make coulotte style sleep shorts. It does not require a block to start from and it is designed to be partially made with stretchy fabric allowing a little wiggle room if things don’t work exactly as planned on your first project. Making sewing patterns is definitely an art that takes time to develop and get right. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t turn out perfect on the first try!
The following post is for creating the pattern for the shorts. I will also walk you through sewing the shorts, patterning the bra top, and sewing the bra top in the next few entries.
For information on the patterning tools you should use for the best results, visit the post I made on tools for patternmaking.
Measurements needed to complete this patterning project:
Waist – the measurement around the narrowest point between your bust and hips (natural waist)
Hip Measurement + 2″ ease – the measurement around the widest part of your hips; add 2″ ease to the measurement
Body Rise – the distance between your natural waist and crotch; the easist way to find this measurement is to sit on a hard flat surface and measure the distance between the surface and your natural waist
Waist to Hip – the distance along your side between your natual waist and the widest part of your hip
Let’s start making the pattern!
Now we start drawing lines on paper! I used a drawing program to create my pattern to make the lines clear and easy for you to see but you will want to work on paper. I’ll post a series of steps and the photo below those steps will show you how things should be laid out on the paper.
A-B: Finished length (somewhere in the range of 15″-18″)
A-C: The length of your Body Rise measurement + 5/8″.
C-D: Half the measurement of your Hip (including ease).
E: Halfway between C and D. Square up and down.
A-F: CB to 5/8″ above Side Seam (dashed line for reference)
Redraw the line with a slight curve.
F-G: Create the same curve between Side Seam and Center Front
A-H: Waist to Hip Measurement, square across
I: Half way between A and C
J: Half way between G and D
C-K: 1/8 Hip measurement, plus 3/4″.
L: Square down from K the desired length (I went with 2″). Square across.
D-M: 1/8 Hip measurement, minus 3/4″. Square down.
Draw a curved line between I and K touching a point 1 1/8″ from C.
Draw a curved line between J and M touching a point 1 1/2″ from D.
At this point, you can trace off the front and back piece, add seam allowances, and you are ready to cut and sew. I want a few extra details on my sleep shorts so I’m going to keep adapting my pattern.
Once your basic shape is set, you can easily make changes for aesthetic reasons. I want the sides and leg opening to be made of lace and the satin to be on the Center Front (CF) and Center Back (CB).
Draw a line that looks good to you for where you want the shorts to transition from satin to lace.
This pattern is does not have typical waist dart shaping which means there is the same amount of fabric at your waist as your hips. By using stretch lace (or some type of knit fabric) on the sides, we can trim a bit of fabric near the waist and the shorts will still stretch over your hips!
Note: If your hip and waist measurement are close (4″ difference or less) it isn’t worth the time and effort to makie adjustments for waist shaping.
Determine the amount your knit/stretch lace will stretch by adding pins at a measured interval and measuring the lace when you stretch it.
I spaced my pins 4″ apart and when the lace was stretched the pins were 5″ apart. The fabric when relaxed is 80% of the stretched measurement.
4 divided by 5 = 0.8
0.8 X 100 = 80%
On my pattern piece, I drew lines for approximately where I want the satin to lace style line. I’m going to essentially create a dart over that line so there is less bulk (gathered fabric) at the waist.
To figure out how much fabric you can remove, multiply the current waist measurement of the pattern piece that will be cut from stretchy fabric by the percentage determined by dividing your relaxed fabric measurement by the measurement of the fabric when stretched. Got it? I will use the actual measurements from my pattern as I move forward in the directions so you have an example of exactly what I did.
On my pattern – At the waist, what will be the lace panel is currently 7″ wide. Using what I determined to be the amount my lace fabric will stretch comfortably, I know how much fabric I can remove so the shorts will still fit over my hips.
Fabric width multiplied by 80%:
7″ x 0.80 = 5.6″
I can reduce the lace panel to 5 1/2″ at the waist and the shorts will still fit. I rounded 5.6 to the closest number that can easily be divided by 2. You’ll see why when we adjust the pattern.
The original lines now appear as dashed lines in the photo below. We are going to “trim” a bit from either side of that line to create dart-like shaping. How much do we trim? Let’s math this out.
The original lace at the wast was 7″. We know that we should reduce the lace to 5 1/2″. When we subtract 5.5 from 7 we determine I can remove 1 1/2″ at the waist. Half of that should be taken from the front style line, half from the back style line so everything is balanced.
We now know that I need to remove 3/4″ of fabric from the waist at the point where the style line touches the waistline. For the best results, split that amount over the line (remove 3/8 of an inch from either side of the line). Redraw the lines to touch the new points. Keep the shaping above your hip line – the hip line is at your widest part and you don’t want to make that any smaller!
Now, trace each piece onto a fresh sheet of paper with a margin around each piece for making final adjustments and adding seam allowances. Make sure you include your grainline when you copy the pieces! The grainline runs parallel to CF and CB.
The shaping of the pattern pieces where the lace and satin pieces join has been changed. Before we add the seam allowances and cut from fabric, we need to check the pieces against each other to make sure they will make a nice smooth line when sewn. This processes of checking pattern pieces and making adjustments so the end product sits right is called Truing the Pattern.
To do this when working with paper, the easy thing to do is overlap the pieces of paper and secure with a couple pins. Since I am using a drawing program to show how to pattern, I simply rotated the pieces to show how they should sit in relation to each other.
Where seams like this meet, it is very bad if they create a V shape. On my pattern, at the waistline there is a slight V where the lace and satin panels meet. At this point, I am going to re-draw the waistline so it is a smooth, continuous line (new line shown in red below).
Note about side seam point: We initially raised the side seam to create a nice curve around your waist. We don’t have a side seam (therefore side seam shaping) on this garment and the point is not as important and can be smoothed out a bit.
Erase your old lines, and make the new line the official top edge of the shorts by extending seam lines to meet the new waistline. Make sure all the pattern pieces reflect the new waistline.
Now it is time to add your seam allowance. The seam allowance you add is up to you based on what you feel comfortable working with as well as the finishing techniques you anticipate using. This is one place where your basic sewing book will come in handy. If you are unsure about how to added a casing, what stitches to use, or how to finish your seams, you can refer to your sewing book for detailed info and help.
Here are the seam allowances I added for each seam and why I chose them.
Seam: The curved seam that will join the lace with the satin AND the seam between the legs- 3/8″
Reason: I plan on sewing this seam with my serger. The best serging stitch for this application constructs a 3/8″ seam. It is also good to use a slightly narrower seam allowance on curves so you don’t need to trim them later.
Seam: Waistline – 1/2″
Reason: I will be using 1/2″ elastic at the top edge of the shorts so I am making the seam allowance to accommodate. To secure the elastic, I will use a 3-step zig-zag stitch and don’t need to add extra fabric to create a casing.
Seam: Leg opening – 3/4″
Reason: I plan to finish the leg opening with a plain hem (fold the cut edge to the inside and sew in place to secure). The amount I am turning the fabric to the inside is based on the feel of the lace (I don’t think I could sew a successful hem by turning the lace 1/4″ or 1/2″) and I don’t want the lace to cross into the satin.
Cut out your paper pattern and you are ready to cut fabric!
This is your pattern! Part 2: Click here to see how to construct your sleep shorts.