Things You'll Need
- Measuring tape
- Dressmaker’s paper
- Nylon yardage – heavier gauge
- Nylon Tricot yardage – lighter gauge
- Sewing machine
- Ball point sewing machine needle
- Fine nylon thread
- Nylon lace and ribbons for embellishment
Last week my 91-year-old mother-in-law mentioned that she was wearing a nightgown I made for her over 20 years ago. I was amazed that it was still in service, not to mention in as good a shape as ever. This project is a replica of that comfortable, feminine gown. When a garment is well-made out of proper material, you will definitely find it in your drawer years later and the only way to get rid of it is to give it away. You will draft your own simple pattern based on your measurements.
Measure your body to create a personally-fitted pattern. Measure shoulder to shoulder, circumference of head, armhole drop, bust, hip, and shoulder to knee or ankle. Draw the pattern on the dressmaker’s paper using one quarter of the bust and hip measurement. In other words the Bust measures 36 inches divided into quarters to equal nine inches, the hip is 40 inches divided into quarters equalling 10 inches. Use the edge of the paper for the center fold of the garment, it will be half of a neckline, one shoulder and armhole and a gradual A-line increase according to bust and hip measurements plus ease all the way down to the length. Always add at least an inch of ease in the width and another inch in the armhole drop. Necklines need to be the circumference of the head plus two inches and are drawn into the pattern as a rounded neckline front and back.
Determine how much material you will need to purchase by calculating width and length of the garment. Cut out two front and back matching pieces from both heavy nylon and nylon tricot.
Pin the light tricot over the heavier nylon material right sides up. Use a narrow zigzag stitch to seam across the shoulders. Finish the neck hole by pinning the two layers of fabric together and seaming right along the edge while pulling the fabric slightly as you stitch. It will automatically curl in and be easy to stitch under. Zigzag the side seams each layer at a time. Trim right next to the stitching. Pin the fabric around the armholes and use the same seaming technique. Hem each layer separately.
Use lace and ribbons to embellish the tricot layer. If you wish for a more finished neck and armhole, cut one-inch wide strips of nylon to measure the openings, plus an extra ½-inch overlap. Stitch the strip to the garment, right sides together. Turn the strip to the inside of the garment leaving a ¼-inch edge. Pin in place and do a regular straight stitch around the outside seam. This is often called “stitch in a ditch” and the stitch line disappears into the seam. Trim the inside.
Pat Olsen has over 35 years of experience as a professional journalist in California. She attended San Francisco State and Pacific College. Olsen has several published books, is a staff writer for Mill Creek Living Magazine, and currently writes for Demand Studio. She is a retired educator who still teaches twice a week.