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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, May 18, 2012

Night and day

OK. I have a question for you?

How big is your daytime, standing up, wardrobe?

How big is your night time wardrobe?

I am wondering about my priorities and balance here.

I spend an inordinate amount of time making far more clothes than I would ever wear or need. OK I admit that. I have clothes in at least part of three closets and off-season put away some place. My nightwear fits into a drawer and a half and I don't really think a lot about it, apart from is something clean.

The whole issue of pajamas, nightgowns, or whatever T-shirt combo your favour is interesting on several levels. First off there are three categories:

1. Nighties. For some reason most nightgowns want to turn all adult women into sweet little old ladies (except even sweet little old ladies are a lot cooler than that these days). Rosebuds and miniature pastels rule. Little lace or ribbons that fray in the wash. Why is this? Just like how in my day maternity clothes seemed to want to turn you into a baby - many maternity tops had duckies on them for goodness sakes. Makes you appreciate the belly band and exposed belly in a bikini. Why are most nightgowns so old?

2. Pajamas as daywear. Now I certainly sympathize with this. Many times I have felt psychologically like showing up at work in my jammies and slippers, it was that kind of day. Lots of students and folks you see shopping in the detergent aisle at the Superstore wear their pj's 24/7. Even still have you noticed they seem to be trying to dress adult women as teeny boppers- florescent piglet designs, Sylvester the Cat? Why the dumbing down?

3. Valentine, anniversary, Victoria Secret nightwear. Fine if you find leopard polyester cozy and don't mind waking up with spaghetti straps wrapped around your neck, and the lace bodice twisted around to your back. Not the best for a lifestyle that involves midnight trips down to the bathroom, that 3:00 am who's-turn-is-it-to-let-the-dog out run, or a the perfect couple evening involving you knitting and Mad Men on the Tube, not next to you.

I remember my mother had an orange nylon number of many layers and green rosettes shoved at the back of her middle dresser drawer (is it still there mom?). When ever we asked about it she would say "Dad bought it. In San Francisco." 

As if that explained everything. Maybe it does.

Yes, there is not a lot of nightwear out there worth the nearly half of our lives we are going to spend wearing it. The pattern books have very little, though getting better. 

It seems it is time I started paying more attention to this side of my sewing life.

In the interim month before I am laid up I am mail ordering some Karen Neuberger, who really makes comfortable stuff and seems to know who women are. The one of two of hers I have had I have worn to death.

Now what about you?

Do you sew for sleep?


wendy said...

You are so right, finding sleepwear that's attractive and comfy, without being too twee or too 'old' is almost impossible. I recently made pjs for Karen's pj party and this has motivated me to sew more nightwear. To be honest though, finding suitable patterns is proving difficult.

Anonymous said...

I think designs reflect the designers opinions of women and older women. Being a petite, I have a hard time finding certain styles in my size and designers don't think we should wear certain styles because it will make petities look shorter. I've never had a problem with being petite and short but designers do!

The solution is for us to all make our own patterns! lol

LinB said...

Older women are the only ones who still wear nighties? Sleepwear designers are trapped in a time vortex and cannot see any way out of it? I sewed a few nightgowns early on in my marriage, before time and hormonal fluctuations turned me into a human furnace. I don't sew nightwear anymore, since I don't wear nightwear anymore.

badmomgoodmom said...

My favorite PJ pants are made using a Calvin Klein pull-on pant pattern for wovens, but I make mine in soft jersey. For summer, I use a CK shorts pattern for summer sleep shorts.

I never posted any of these b/c it never occurred to me that anyone would be interested in my sleepwear. But, then, it never occurred to me that anyone would feel limited to the lackluster sleepwear patterns on offer.

Rebecca Clayton said...

I also simplify "daytime standing up wardrobe" patterns for my nightwear. A good tee-shirt pattern only has to get longer and wider at the bottom to make a soft knit nightgown.

I use a menswear shirt pattern cut extra-long for woven nightgowns, and I usually go for that Victorian gentleman's look: a one-piece front with placket, and a collar stand.

Your Jane shirt pattern could be simplified and lengthened into a night gown, a pajama top, or a summer bathrobe, and any pants pattern can turn into pull-on jammy bottoms by eliminating waist shaping and fashion details.

The "what was I thinking" fabrics can be ideal for sleepwear.

sewingkm said...

I purchased a rayon maxi dress in a lovely batik while in Hawaii as a swimsuit coverup several years. I wore it to sleep one night and found it was perfect night wear. It's long gone but I made a pattern from it and make several of these (in rayon) 'goodies' every year for sleeping purposes. Now that maxis are on trend it's possible that I could wear them from day (with a bra) into night (sans bra)!

shams said...

I love to make fun PJ bottoms. I wear PJs a lot, as I work at home and often don't leave the house, so fun and cute ones are important to me.

I usually use the Cutting Line Designs One Seam pant pattern, but there are lots of options. I usually use flannel, but have been enjoying some wild African prints I found that are a lightweight cotton. I also made myself a pebbled silk pair, but don't wear those so much.

I just don't wear night shirts or nightgowns. I made a robe in the last year and am wearing that a lot. I want to make a couple other robes, so I have a selection, but I am very picky about robe patterns.

Great subject!

Texan said...

I do have material silk to make a gown and robe. I thought I would like a shorty gown and a long robe, something adult pretty. This would be nothing like what I sleep in but I thought perhaps I would like this. No its not made.

I have mens flannel jammy pants for winter. Womens are way to short in my size. Mens smalls have longer legs in them! Unless its super super cold I don't actually sleep in them but I like them with a Tshirt for evening. Just a Tshirt is good for sleeping for winter.

Summer, well a Tshirt works LOL or not if its horribly hot. I am with LinB since the human furnace thing kicked in not works most of the time in summer.

I have never liked to be all twisted up in clothes when I am trying to sleep! I guess for me less is more when it comes to jammies for sure.

Bunny said...

I am a big t shirt chick. The only exception to this rule was a pair of linen pants that were all flat felled and soft elastic waistline. I decided they would make great jammy pants and they did. I wore them for years till they wore paper thin. If I ever did bother to make myself a sleep shirt or pants it would be out of linen, nothing else. So so comfortable. No silk for me. In the meantime, its big cotton tee shirts. Gotta have those natural fibers.

marysews said...

Clothes to wear to bed in Florida? Think again! ... lol

Cold? Put on a stretchy tank top and/or a pair of socks. Really cold? Add a light blanket over the sheets. Really, really cold? Heavier blanket.

Too warm? Sleep on top of the sheets.

Tambereen said...

I recently went looking for nighties to wear in hospital - pants wouldn't work for my op - and as you say it was 'granny' in thin pastel knits or nothing. I have an abundant chest and I would not be comfy to be on display like that, no matter how comfy the knit might be, so I made some double layer linen nighties with wide elasticized straps and they were perfect.

Summer Flies said...

This made me laugh but nod my head. I hate licensed creature cartoon stuff, I hate nighties (no matter what kind) and I want something pretty but not for 4yo. I haven't made any myself as they are so cheap that I think if I have time I should make something other people see. But I have some lovely voile that just screams summer pj's to me but not till I have time!

Lena Merrin said...

I so agree. I have spent several weeks browsing pj departments and the offerings made me want to weep. Today I bought myself some outrageous flannel and made me a pair of pj trousers that I am not embarrassed to call mine.

theresa said...

My favorite nightshirt is a hot pink breast cancer awareness novelty print of various cartoon cows dressed up like divas. The other nightsirt has a cowgirl pin-up theme. The short pajamas are made from soft neutrals and the patterns are slightly modified "daywear" patterns. When they wear out I'm going to raid the scrap box and pull together an "audacity" garment, as in "whatever I have the audacity to include" garment unless I find some more fun novelty prints.

Calypso Flowers said...

I love the idea of a robe made out of linen ! Any further ideas or experience, or better still, patterns ?

Laurel Shimer (The Simple Romantic) said...

@Calypso.. A nice kimono pattern is nice for linen. Either short or long. Golly, you can even find kimono patterns to download for free on the web, I'm sure I've seen some. Then you can decide on belt or no belt.

My nightwear is extremely important to me. Especially since, like right now, I hang out in it for a bit as I'm getting going with the day (yes, I do need to get going pretty quick here). I have two really pretty robes I 've sewed. I'm wearing my spring one right now. It's a turquoise (Joanne's polyester) brocade kimono with a belt. I'm wearing it over one of my favorite nightgowns. Well, I like those flubby romantic styles. It's a white batiste-y thing rosebud'y . I use a loose peasant blouse style pattern extended into mid calf length, with of course a ruffle on the bottom. I love my nightgowns.

My winter robe is full length black velvet with a light pink lining. I beaded a few (fake) pearls on the nice long shawl collar lapels, also some sparkly dragonfly buttons scattered around. I modeled it after one from an old Victoria Secret ad - which was not lined. A friend pointed that lack of lining out ('they're charging that much and it's not even lined!') and I instantly decided that of course mine WOULD be lined. I had the velvet and lining around for 10-15 years before I finally sewed it. And I appreciate that long term plan every single morning I wrap it's glamour around me before feeding the cats. Sometimes the stash does make it through the system. Gives you hope for the future, doesn't it?

Oh I forgot my third robe. It's a deep pink poly brocade (yes, good old Joanne's). It's a short kimono style. I use it traveling too. It also stands in as a jacket.

Also love my full length flannel nightgowns. They must be plaid, which I adore. Most recent ones I do machine embroidery on the front yoke - symmetrical designs - lovely. Also the buttons down the long yoked front are extremely important. They must coordinate with the embroidery, just so.

Barbara said...

Wow Laurel that's quite the inspiration, thanks for the ideas!

1912 Suffragette said...

Look at vintage patterns for nightgown, pajama, bed jacket, robe ideas. I have some from the 30's and 40's that are "adult" without being "ADULT." I also like Decades of Style and Folkwear patterns for nightwear and recently made a Colette "Sorbetto" top and pull-on shorts out of white cotton percale (from a bedsheet) for a great summer PJ look. All that being said, I sleep without anything on; nightclothes are for lounging around and I keep a robe on a hook next to the bed for emergencies.