Making a nightshirt – adapting my pyjama pattern

by Stephanie on 23 April 2010

in Making clothes,Sewing

Nightshirt pattern pieces on my messy desk

Hurrah! My pyjama pattern – Jalie 2686 – has arrived. I do feel a slight sense of panic on opening up the envelope – there are 27 sizes of pyjamas and that’s a lot of lines. The sewing instructions look fairly brief but they are clearly laid out.

So, now to turn the pyjama jacket pattern into a nightshirt pattern.

Jalie sewing pattern 2686 for pyjamas

Pattern pieces

The pyjama jacket has seven pattern pieces:

  • Front (x2)
  • Back (x1)
  • Sleeve (x2)
  • Front facing (x2)
  • Back facing (x1)
  • Collar (x2)
  • Sleeve facing (x2)

There is a pocket too, but I think I’ll leave it off as I can’t see when I’d ever use it. I can always add it on at the end if it looks stupid without it. I’m not planning to use interfacing either – I’ll just use fabric for facings.


I’m tackling the long-sleeved nightshirt pattern first so the sleeves, armholes, neckline and collar stay the same. I want to lengthen the jacket and add a small amount of shaping at the waist. It’s only a very small amount of shaping so can probably get away with adding it at the edge rather than as darts. I’ll also need to reposition the button holes.

My original plan was to shape the bottom hem to make it rounded, but I’m tempted to keep things simple and leave it straight for the moment. I can always add some side slits.

The easiest way to make these alterations seems to be to trace the pieces off the Jalie pattern rather than try to work on the original.

Order of work

Firstly, work out what size to make. See how wide the top will be and check it against some of my own tops to see how loose-fitting it will be.

Decide how long I want the nightshirt to be (compare with existing tops). Work out how many buttons to have and spacing.

Next, start altering the pattern:

  • Trace back piece and lengthen. Work out position of waist and add shaping. Shape bottom hem. Add an extra notch on side seam.
  • Trace front piece – lengthen, add shaping at waist and bottom hem to match the back piece. Copy position of first buttonhole. Add extra notch on side seam.
  • Trace front facing and lengthen.
  • Trace sleeve. Check length and shorten if necessary.
  • Trace back facing, collar and sleeve facing.

Later on:

  • Adapt the sleeve to make a short version for summer nightshirts. Think about how to finish the sleeve edge – add a facing or just hem it?


Here’s the pattern with the alterations made. The pyjama pattern does not have a huge amount of ease and I was worried that the nightshirt would be too tight over the hips, so traced it one size up (size T). Hopefully this will work out OK!

Pattern pieces after being altered

After some dithering, I added 18cm to the length, and positioned the waist 18.5 cm below the armhole. The nightshirt might be a bit too long but I thought it was easier to cut off any extra than to start off with something that was too short.  I added 1 cm of shaping at the waist to each edge of the front and back pieces. Finally I shortened the sleeves by 5cm.

Here’s a close-up of the waist shaping. I’ve added an extra notch here to help with matching up the front and back pattern pieces.

Alteration to pattern piece to shape waist

Normally, I find something always goes horribly wrong with pattern drafting. I’ll try and be disciplined and follow my own instructions for checking a pattern after making alterations before working out how much fabric I need and a layout for the pattern pieces.

A last-minute alteration

I’m sure that this is not how you’re supposed to do things. Anyway, after I’d cut out the pieces for the nightshirt and thought about how to sew them together, I realised that putting side slits in was not going to work as I had not included any extra fabric to make them with. I decided to go back to my original plan of shaping the bottom hem so made one last alteration to the pattern (now pinned to the fabric).

Shaping added to bottom edge of nightshirt pattern instead of side slits

I shortened the side seams by 5.5cm and added curves to the bottom edges of the nightshirt front and back. After re-pinning the pattern piece, I cut the bottom of the fabric piece that I had already cut out – so far it seems to have worked OK. It will make hemming the nightshirt more difficult but I didn’t like the look of the straight edge without any side slits.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ken Shepherd September 23, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Hi, Hope you dont mind me contacting you re my request. Would you be able to adjust a plain free bust nylon nightgown into a nightshirt design.




Stephanie September 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Hi Ken

It would be possible to make a paper pattern from a nightgown then adapt it for a nightshirt. It’s a bit beyond my somewhat basic skills I’m afraid as I’ve only ever adapted paper patterns. You’d need to ‘trace’ the different pieces that make up the nightgown onto paper and add seam allowances and pattern markings – have a look at the guide to making patterns from ready-made clothes on eHow.



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