These monster-eyed Halloween pajama pants are the first sewing project I’ve done in years! Getting my guest room finally sorted gave me space to set up my machine and make pajama magic. Yesterday I wrote all about my sewing machine situation. Today it’s all about the pants.
Supplies & Stuff
The fabric is Doodles Halloween-themed stretch jersey cotton from JoAnn Fabrics. I found this at the store in Glendale and they seem to have it available to buy online. If you aren’t feeling the monster eyes, check out their whole stock of Halloween prints, this interlock knit fabric is pretty great and it was easy to work with.
The patterns I used are Vogue V8909 (for me) and Simplicity 8268 (for the captain). Lots of detail below, but the TLDR is go with the Simplicity pattern. It has better instructions, more sizes per packet, and a really nice modern fit.
Cutting The Patterns
When sewing, I prefer to cut my pattern and fabric on a separate day from sewing. I spread out my Dritz cardboard pattern board on the floor and pinned and cut while I watched TV. ALSO! My single favorite sewing item in the world right now is this simple magnetic pin caddy. How did I only learn about these recently? They are amazing.
Cutting is always slow going for me, plus I had A LOT of feline assistance while pinning and cutting out my PJ bottoms.
My PJ Bottoms: Vogue V8909
For my pajama pants I used Vogue “Very Easy Vogue” pattern number V8909.
I haven’t sewn a garment from a pattern in a long time, and I had forgotten how hit-or-miss patterns can be. This pattern isn’t a disaster, but it has the words VERY EASY VOGUE stamped in all-caps on the packet … that makes me think it’s suitable for a beginner, right? But it is missing any of the basic instructions a beginner would need.
The pattern construction itself is not complex, but the instruction booklet that comes with it is pretty bare bones. For example, they don’t give you any indicator that you need to pin pieces together right sides facing or that you need to iron your seam allowances. A beginner needs that kind of instruction. I’m a fairly experienced seamstress and I need that kind of instruction!
If you’re not carefully and seriously studying the drawings it doesn’t look like you are sewing the front to the back on step five. This pattern also has a weird “extension” at the front which I think is meant to look like a zipper placket but is completely useless. Even with the top stitching I thought it would look weird so I just cut it off.
The pattern also doesn’t say anything about finishing your seams. Because my PJs are a stretch cotton knit, they will not unravel much on the raw edges. I trimmed all the seam allowances with my pinking shears. You could also zigzag all of the seam allowances and cut the excess off with sharp fabric scissors. If you have a serger you are in luck– I think this whole pattern could easily be adapted to serge/cut all seams.
I didn’t like the way the cuffs were attached and you get a pile of raw edges, so I encased the seams. I did this for my googly eye pajamas. Yup. Someone missed sewing a lot!
I selected this pattern for the stretch cuff detail, and I also liked the idea of a pattern that could work for both woven and knit fabrics. However, there’s a lot of ease in this pattern. I should have made a medium because the large is billowy on me, but I was on the fence and bought the L-XL-XXL packet. It’s frustrating to me that the established pattern companies still make you buy one packet for XS-M and another for L, XL, XXL and up. Most indie patterns contain all sizes, which is also easier for grading between sizes.
I wish I had modified the pattern more to fit my shape, even with the back yoke on the pants the butt seems really low. And I’m not even sure why there is a back yoke, it offers no advantage to fitting and was just additional work.
- The cuff had a lot of ragged raw edges so I ended up encasing them in a french seam. It is possible this was overkill for my googly monster-eyed Halloween PJs.
- I left the pockets out, as I’m not a fan of pockets in my pajamas.
- As mentioned above, I did not sew the fake zipper placket. It just added bulk and it was too high and weird to look good.
- I kind of forgot to buy skinny elastic. So instead of doing two lines of elastic casing for narrow elastic strips, I made one wide casing for the 1.25″ wide elastic I had on hand.
I may still go back and take in the side seams because these are super roomy! I feel like an extra from I Dream of Jeannie in these pants. Or maybe it’s just Hammer Time.
Not sure if I would make these again. It would require a fair amount of pattern customization, but I could see these being better suited for a very fine, drapey rayon fabric.
The Captain’s Pajamas: Simplicity 8268
For the Captain’s PJ pants, I used Simplicity 8268. This pattern had a lot more information and even though it’s not branded as a beginner pattern, I think a beginner would have a pretty easy time with it. Just remember to follow basic good practices like back stitching all of your seam endings and ironing out seam allowances as you sew.
This packet contains all sizes from XS to XL, plus sizes for both adults and children/teens. This makes it easier for anyone who is between sizes to get a perfect fit, and it’s easier to grade between sizes (for example, if your hip is one size and your waist is another.) The Captain is a pretty standard size, so I cut an XL based on the package size guidelines.
This pattern is a much more modern cut, with less ease in the sizing. It is specifically made for knits. It’s also unisex which is nice. This should have been a very easy sewing pattern but I messed up on the waistband and ended up hand-tucking and hand-basting the entire waistband seam. This happened at the end of the evening and I think I was just tired and not paying attention. After I hand-sewed it, I went over my stitches with a narrow zigzag and it was fine.
Another thing you need to do on this pattern is mark which pieces are front pieces and which ones are back. I trained myself a long time ago to write a B (for “back”) in chalk or disappearing ink, and make a dot for front pieces. Once you sew pants together at the crotch and inseam, it’s hard to tell the front from back. That makes it harder to know which pieces you’re sewing the pockets to in the next step.
Aside from my waistband goof, I followed the pattern pretty much as written.
- I added understitching to each pocket piece after it was sewn in. Commercial patterns seem to always leave out understitching but it adds polish and sits better on the body.
- Also, I’m not sure if the pockets were meant to be sewed to the front but that’s how I did it. The pockets seemed a little like an afterthought in this pattern and you do end up with a lot of bulk in the waist.
- There’s a better way to add on the waistband but for PJ pants this is probably OK.
- I also basted and gathered the pant leg openings before adding on the stretchy cuff. It was the very end of the day and I thought that was easier than trying to stretch the cuff to fit (as the pattern recommended).
A Few Of My Lazy Sewer’s Tricks
It’s been a long time since I had a sewing day and I thought it was amusing how I naturally defaulted to the same tricks I used as a teenager.
- I still use painter’s tape to create a seam guide. I cut a long strip of tape and place it on my machine where the edge of the seam allowance is from the needle. Use a tape measure to get the placement just right.
- Instead of watching the needle, I try to watch the fabric move along the edge of the painter’s tape. This will produce a straight, perfect seam.
- Before every major project I change needles. Most of the time when I think something is wrong with the bobbin tension it’s actually a dull needle.
- Before changing my needle, I always put down a piece of painter’s tape or masking tape underneath the presser foot. If I accidentally drop my needle when unscrewing it, it won’t go down into the machine. I have actually done that several times and it’s so aggravating to fix!
- I always mark the front pattern pieces so I know they are fronts, and backs so I know they are backs. Am I the only one who gets confused so easily? To me all pant pieces start looking the same after an hour of sewing. Same with shift dresses.
- Wash and dry the fabric before cutting it so nothing shrinks after the fact!
The Bottom Line On My Halloween PJ Bottoms
The Simplicty pattern was pretty darn good! I really like the modern fit. I wish I had made both pants out of that pattern. I will definitely be using this pattern again. I might draft the waistband to the front and back pieces for a simpler encasement but even just as is it’s a solid pattern for just about any level of sewing expertise.
And this fabric is really easy to sew with. It’s a really thick knit fabric that ironed nicely and wasn’t too tricky to pin or cut. Even the captain commented on how nice the fabric is.
Also, wow, I have really missed sewing!
I feel a little irritated at myself for having kept a cluttered, impassable sewing room for the past three years. A lot of this goes back to my realization somewhere in mid-July that the hoarded guest room was just a space full of deferred dreams. Everything was blocked because that room had become a huge, physical barrier to progress.
There are few things in this world I enjoy more than making a garment out of an idea. Having a clean, open space to sit and make clothes was just a little piece of bliss on earth.
And I made us matching Halloween PJ pants!! We’re such goobers!