Sweet as Sugar Nightgown Tutorial


My little girl, Lena, asked for a nightgown for her birthday.  I think she's seen them in books or on TV and in her mind, they are definitely something for 'big girls'.  I looked around a little, and couldn't find anything that was made of 100% cotton (a PJ requirement around here).  So I set out to make a sweet little nightgown for her.  It was a big success, and then her baby sister had to had one to.  This whipped up in under 2 hours and put a big smile on my girls' faces.  It puts a big smile on my face to my girls them wearing them, too.

The measurements here are for my very petite just-turned-2-year-old.  Use a favorite dress to get basic measurements that you need.

 Step 1: Cut your fabric

  • 2 pieces that are 19" (the width of the bottom of my pattern dress) by 20" (the length of my pattern dress, from top chest hem to bottom, plus 2").
  • 2 strap pieces that are 2.5" wide (will make an approximately 1" strap) by 8" long (the length of my pattern dress straps plus 2").  
  • You'll also need 4 ruffle pieces.  They should be the same length as your strap pieces,  approximately 1" wide at the ends and anywhere from 2.5"-4" at the widest part of the curve, depending on how large you want your ruffle to be.
  • You'll need a bit of elastic.  Most any kind will do.
Ruffle piece.  You'll need 4 of these.

Step 2: Make Your Ruffles 

Sew along curved edge of ruffle pieces.
Place 2 of your ruffle pieces right sides together and sew along the cuved edge.
2 ruffles, sewn together along curved edge and turned.
Turn them so that the right sides are out.

2 ruffles.  Gathered along straight edge.
Sew a running stitch (or set your machine to its longest stitch possible) along the straight edge of your ruffles.  The beginning of this seam should be secured, the end of it should not.

Gently pull the top thread, which will slowly gather and ruffle your ruffles.  If you've never made ruffles before, don't worry-- you can do it!  My mother talked me through it easily on the phone.

Gather your ruffles until the length along the ruffled side when laid straight is about 6" (2 inches shorter than your straps).

Step 3: Attach ruffles to straps 

Ruffle pinned to strap, waiting to be sewn.
Lay out one of your strap pieces, right side up.  Place one of your ruffles on top.  Ruffle should be centered (leaving approximately 1" of strap that will not have ruffle attached).  I pinned once in the center.  Pin as much as you feel comfortable with.

Sewing ruffle to strap, not unruffling the ruffles.
 Sew along the top, straightening ruffle piece as you go, but being careful not to unruffle your ruffles.

Fingerpessed seam.
Turn strap over, so that the wrong side of your fabric is up, with ruffle 'folded' down so that it is not underneath the strap.  Finger press (or actually iron) a 1/4" seam along the other edge of the strap.

Strap folded in half and pinned, ready to sew.
Then, fold the strap in half, 'sandwiching' the ruffle seam in inbetween the two edges of the strap.  I pinned all along the strap for this step, since it kept wanting to curve up and be difficult.  Topstitch along the edge of the strap (with ruffle sandwiched inside).

2 straps, all done!
Repeat for other strap.

Step 4: Make the Body of the Nightgown

Put the 2 body pieces or fabric right sides together.  Cut your nightgown body into a trapezoid.   I measured 3.5" from the top corner, then just made a straight line down to the bottom corner. There's no real picture, because a trapezoid of fabric doesn't show up very clearly!

Cut armholes.  From the top of the trapezoid, cut gentle curves.  Mine were 2.5" wide at the top, and 3.5" long. 

Armholes cut.  I cut one side, folded over and cut the other side to match.
Sew the body pieces of your nightgown together, with right sides together.  Start at the bottom of the armpit hole, go all the way down.

Armpit edges folded under twice, ready to sew.
Turn under the edge of armpit holes 1/4".  Turn under again, and sew, making a finished seam.
Sewing armpit seam.

Step 5: Add elastic to neckline

Top edge, folded.  Ready to be sewn.
Make a casing for the elastic.  Fold top edge of nightgown down about 3/4".  Fold down one more time and sew along the bottom edge of this fold (not along the very top of the nightgown.  Do this for both the front and back side of your nightgown.

Elastic ready to be threaded through.
Cut your elastic (loose, not pulled tight).  You'll need 2 pieces, one for the front and one for the back.  Mine was 4.5" long, which was about 2" shorter than the finished top edge of the nightgown.  This made a very gentle stretch.

Elastic threaded through top of nightgown.
Put a safety pin on one end of your elastic to help you push it through.  Thread elastic through casing at the top of the nightgown.

Elastic pinned and ready to be sewn.
Pin one end of your elastic and sew in place.  I just sewed one simple vertical line, knowing that the elastic would be further secured when I stitched the straps in place. Stretch elastic to the other side of the casing, pin and sew in place.  Repeat for other side of the nightgown.

Step 6: Attach straps

Straps, waiting to be sewn to top of nightgown.
Put your straps in place, so that the end of the ruffle (or in my case, the wonky end of the ruffle), is just barely below the top edge of the nightgown.  Sew them in place.  I sewed a little square right along the top edge, pulling the elastic inside the casing taut as you sew.

Attach the other end of the strap, then attach the second strap.

Step 7: Finish it off

Sew a quick hem along the bottom of the nightgown.

Zigzag stitch along the inside side seams to prevent fraying.

Cut off any excess strap that may be left over after you attached them.

Give to your daughter/niece/friend/cousin.

(The girls were not feeling friendly towards one another during this little shoot, so insisted on being photographed seperately :)  )

Check out other great tutorials here:
Inspired Us Thursdays: Sew Needle Stitch Hook, a link party of fiber arts. | The Inspired Wren



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