29 Aug 2015
I made up the purple nightie first. Let me say now that flannel-back satin is awful to work with. It is slippery and without a walking foot, you’ll have to thread baste every single seam. Even with the walking foot, I had to go very slowly and pin thoroughly or the fabric would creep on me.The main change I made to the pattern was to make a back neck facing. I hate bias-tape facings, they don’t hold up well, and I can’t sew them smoothly, no matter how much I fiddle with them. So I made a neck facing pattern, a nice deep one, and used that instead. I sew my facings down so they lay flat. It leaves a seam line on the garment but so what? I don’t have to iron the nightgown after every wearing to get the damn facing to behave.
It turned out pretty well — Bill liked it! — so I made it again in the teal. For this one, I lowered the neckline more — which Bill really liked — and I raised the hemline in a smooth arc from side seam to side seam. This let the hem hang just above my toes, making it easier to walk in. The teal satin behaved better than the purple, probably because I got better at manipulating it.Overall, the pattern worked out fairly well. I say fairly well because (Hey pattern companies!) the pattern gives almost no bust support. I’m a full-figured gal as you can see by the pictures. I am not going to wear a bra to bed. Yet if you look at the pictures of the models, (and this is true of virtually every model in a nightgown you will ever see), they are wearing bras! So if you wonder why the nightgown doesn’t fit you the way it fits the model, this may be the reason.
I am not a good enough seamstress to fix this problem by redrafting the bodice. The waist seam on this pattern is very high, almost an empire and with plenty of snug elastic. That gives me a little support. The real problem with this pattern is that the bodice and sleeve are cut as one unit, as in a kimono sleeve. I believe that if the garment had been designed with a fitted bodice with a set in sleeve, even a loose, larger one, the nightgown would have worked far better. It would have been much more supportive, without having to wear a bra, and still been loose enough to be comfy.
I think that what might work would be a nightgown pattern using a halter-type top that has set-in sleeves. I haven’t found this yet, but there is always hope. I might be able to find this style in a dress pattern. I could then make it up a size larger in flannel-back satin to be comfy. That might work.Always remember, just because a pattern shows it being made in a specific material to be worn a specific way, that doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. If a garment you like insists on a stretch knit and your chosen knit doesn’t stretch like the pattern envelope likes? Make it one size larger to compensate, or even two. See what happens. If a coat is supposed to be unlined, line it anyway. If the button holes show gaps over your bustline, move them closer. That is the whole point of home sewing, to get what you want.
Which is why I sewed my own winter nightgowns, warm and attractive. Both of them cost far less than anything I could have bought new. Remember that I buy fabric and patterns only on sale, I shop my stash first, and I use the notions and trims I have on hand first. I’m also not wedded to a specific look or design style and I’m willing to fail with a sewing project. This is where nightwear is an excellent place to practice your skills. No one’s ever going to see you in your nightie but your mirror and your partner.
Next Week: Reusing Cloth and Patterns