Hello there! I decided that I might enter the Pattern Review Sewing Bee contest this year. It seems fairly tough and is based on (I’m assuming?) the show, The Great British Sewing Bee, of which I am naturally a big fan. You’re given an assignment and have a limited number of days to post your finished garment and review, whereupon you are judged according to a set of criteria and may or not progress through to the next round, knock-out style. There are four rounds altogether and I’ve admired so many of the entries for previous Bee rounds, but never entered myself until now. The first round for 2021 was announced to be “Sew Your Own Unique Pajamas” and I figured I’d give it a go. Would I regret it? Read on to see!
Pattern and Sizing
The pattern I used was the Lakeside Pajamas from Grainline Studios, which I’ve had for a little while. I’ve also had this cute voile in my possession for some time and thought it made a good pairing. It’s called Pandalicious and is from a collection by Art Gallery Fabrics a little while back. You don’t need a ton for this pattern and I think I only used about 2 yards for both pieces. No more, for sure.
It’s a really sweet pattern that features a cami top, with a lovely split-leaf back and elasticated shorts, which have a nice comfy side split in them. There’s a LOT of binding as almost all seams are bound, but it cleverly forms the spaghetti straps on the top and really adds something to the set. I made my own binding from a blue cotton and the set required around 6-7 yards.
As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, Grainline is in the process of updating their patterns with an extended sizing range, for which I’ve tested a number of garments, but this isn’t one of them yet. Therefore, the sizing range goes from 0-18 and if it were a regular daytime piece of clothing I would have cut the 14 and made a FBA, grading out to the 18 at the waist and hips. However, since this is a pair of pyjamas I decided to cut the straight 18, as I did with my Carolyns. The fact that it has quite narrowly-set spaghetti straps negated my worries about the area where I had most concern – namely, that the shoulders and sleeves (if there were any) wouldn’t sit correctly.
This was the correct decision, although I forgot about one important aspect, which was that in a B Cup draft the darts would almost certainly be far too high. I was right and although it’s perfectly wearable, I would need to lower them significantly next time.
Shelf Bra addition
As I said at the top, the Sewing Bee challenge was to make the pyjamas unique to yourself. Lots of people had fun creative ideas, and I thought of a few wacky ideas to start with – for example, loops for boobie lights, so I could read at night anywhere, anytime, anyhow – but, you know, in the end the one thing I really wanted to do was make something I would wear. It could be fun and creative for sure, but I also wanted it to be practical. The more I thought about it, the more I figured that one of the main reasons I haven’t worn woven pyjamas much is I find them a bit uncomfortable around the bust area. They seem to get all caught up as I toss and turn and twisted and annoying. So my bright spark of an idea was to add a built-in shelf bra to alleviate the problem.
Creating the shelf bra pieces was a little trickier than normal because of the Lakeside pattern pieces. Normally, in, say, a swimsuit, you would create it using the same pieces as the outer, but the Lakeside has the split back and is quite flowy, so I needed something more fitted through the bottom of the bust. I wanted to retain the integrity of the voile’s drape, so I knew I would only be attaching the shelf bra at the neckline point, leaving it free thereafter.
Therefore, I decided to make up the outer layer top until the front and back were connected and then traced off the topline, which I used to make the topline of the shelf bra. I took a bikini top I’d already fitted and used it as a guide to draw the rest of the bodice, repeating for the back piece. I sewed the side seams and then basted the shelf bra neckline to the neckline of the made-up panda fabric. From that point, I treated the layers as one and finished the bottom of the shelf bra simply with one-inch elastic.
It actually worked really well! I used a mediumweight white cotton spandex I’d had hanging around for a while and I’d say it’s the perfect material for nightwear. Supportive, but not overly so – i.e., my boobs stay in place but they’re not compressed. I’ve worn these pyjamas several times since I made the set and they’re extremely comfy. Yay!
The construction of the actual pyjama pieces is very straightforward. You sew the darts and then just join everything together on top and the shorts. The tricky part is sewing all the binding on, but I must say the instructions hold your hand the whole way and I got a really nice result. I worried a little the shelf bra might make it harder, but I didn’t notice much difference, thank goodness. There’s a great little extra tutorial on binding the shorts on the Grainline website too, which I recommend watching as that’s the fiddliest part.
As I decided to enter fairly last-minute, I sewed these up rather quickly and my photos weren’t wonderful, so I was rather doubtful I would go through to the next round, but luck was on my side and I made it! I’m really glad it gave me the push I needed to make these bad boys up and I definitely recommend them to anyone else who likes this style. Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to make for Round 2 – urk!