Want to make a one-of-a-kind nightgown for your daughter, niece or granddaughter (or whoever!). You’ve come to the right place. In this this step-by-step tutorial, we’ll use a custom girls nightgown pattern to create fun, bubbly sleepwear.
Here are the interesting features included in this girls nightgown pattern:
- It’s made using pre-loved garments (although fabric from the bolt is perfect too!).
- The hemline and neckline are finished cuff-style (mostly because I hate hemming knits), with the added bonus of a nightgown hem that’ll stay put.
- It has ruffled elastic sleeve hems (these are optional, but they keep the sleeves from climbing up your arm)
- Plus, the nightgown has puff sleeves, princess-style (and girls love this!)
This is the perfect project to dust off your serger (or to take it out of the box… in fact my very first serger project was something similar!).
Girls nightgown pattern & tutorial
Materials and supplies needed:
- Knit fabric/used jersey T-shirts
- Rib knit or lycra knit fabric for the neckband and the hemband (30 percent elastic)
- Matching thread
- Stretch needles
- Small amount of selvage (length depending on the size you choose)
- ¼”-wide flat elastic for the sleeve ruffled hem (optional, length depending on the size you choose)
- Basic sewing notions
- Sewing machine
- Serger (optional)
- The Vitaminic Bubble Nightgown free pattern
Before we start sewing the nightgown:
Download now the free multi-sized pattern I’ve designed for you (get it here, sizes 3 – 16 years). It includes 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowances and 2.5 cm (1″) sleeve hem allowances. Open it with Adobe Reader to get the most from the cool feature: Print only the size you need.
Choose the size you need basing on chest girth. If between sizes, choose the bigger one.
Step 1: Cut the neckline
To save paper and ink, I’ve merged the back and the front bodice pieces into one.
Cut the back piece first, then cut from the back neckline radially into (but not through) the front neckline 4-6 times, and fold the paper strips toward the pattern. This way you can fold them out again whenever you decide to sew this nightgown again.
Fold your fabric vertically, parallel to the grainline. Align the top of it with all the pattern pieces.
If using old T-shirts or nightgowns, check that the bottom hem is straight and trim it if not.
Cut out all the pattern pieces from the fabric, marking the fabric with a little snip at center front = CF and center back = CB (on both the neckline and the hem of back and front bodice pieces) and the center of the sleeve head.
Mark the gathering start and end points (it’s a dot into the pattern piece) onto the sleeve head, too.
Cut the neckband and the hemband accordingly with the following cut chart, putting the length along the max stretch of the fabric. Do not cut the wrist elastic for the moment — you may want to double check the measurement given will fit comfortably (provided that you decide to add this optional detail).
Note: Depending on the fabric you choose, you may need to adjust these lengths. Check that they are long enough to give nightgown the right amount of wearing ease and make sure the head can slip through the neckband.
Step 2: Sew the shoulders
Right sides together (RST), align the front bodice piece on top of the back bodice piece. On top of the fabrics, align a length of a selvedge, raw edges together. This will act as a stabilizer, which will avoid the shoulder seam “growing” toward the sleeve.
I usually do that directly with my serger, using a four-thread overlock stitch, but a row of straight stitches will add more strength.
Step 3: Create and attach the neckband
Fold the neckband in two, matching the short edges, right sides together. Sew or serge this seam. Fold now with wrong sides together, matching the long raw edges.
Folding this ring in half, with the seam at one end, put a pin at the other end to mark the CF.
With the bodice right side up, match the neckband and bodice CB (put a pin) and CF (put a pin). Using a serger or a sewing machine with a stretch stitch, start sewing the neckband in place at the CB. A few tips:
- Stretch the band to equally distribute the bodice’s exceeding fabric
- Work small portions each time
- Always stop needle down!
Step 4: Gather the sleeves
A few tips for easy and foolproof gathering:
- Change threads on your sewing machine. This save the matching thread you’re using. Be sure to revert back to the regular sewing machine settings once you’re done gathering.
- Use two different thread colors for the bobbin and the spool, so you’ll be able to recognize at a glance the bobbin thread. I usually finish half-used bobbins from previous project.
- Set the spool tension to zero and the stitch length to max (4), as you would for basting.
- Sew two rows of stitching between the gathering marks — one inside the seam allowance width, the other right inside the seam line, ½” from the raw edge
- You have to pull the bobbin threads to gather the sleeve head, so it will fit into the armscye
Step 5: Attach the sleeves
Don’t forget to change the thread and the settings!
With right sides together, match the shoulder seam to the center of the sleeve head snip, putting a pin on the bodice side. You will be sewing the sleeve in place leaving the sleeve on the bottom, and the feed dogs will help you ease it in.
(This is only one of the several nice tricks I’ve learnt from Janet Pray’s Sew Better, Sew Faster Craftsy class that will make you really sew better and faster!)
Put a pin at each underarm, matching the corners of sleeve and bodice pieces, on both sides. Put another pin at the gathering snip/dot.
Adjust the gathering until it fits into the sleeve head, then fix the thread tails on both ends making a figure 8 around the pin placed at the gathering dot, to keep the fabric gathered.
Add more pins to keep fullness evenly distributed. Sew all around, using a triple straight stitch on your sewing machine, then make sure there are no weird pleats before you finish the edges with a serger (or a zigzag).
Repeat the whole thing for the other sleeve.
Unpick the gathering row of stitches visible on the right side of the nightgown.
Step 6: Hem sleeves
A nice way to finish the sleeve hem is stitching a piece of flat elastic to the wrong side, right on top of the raw edge. To decide the length of the elastic, a rule of thumb is using wrist girth +1 cm (3/8″ ). If you’re sewing the nightgown for someone you can’t measure, use measurements given in the cutting chart.
Pro tip: Pulling the elastic can be hard if you cut it first, so you may want to mark desired length and cut after sewing it in place.
Fold the 2.5 cm (1″) sleeve hem toward the wrong side and steam press it.
Align the 0.5 cm (¼”) wide flat elastic on top of the raw edge just pressed and sew it in place using a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine (adjust the length and width so you sew into the elastic. I used width = 2 and length = 1).
Make a couple of stitches to start, then hold tight thread tails at the beginning of the seam, so your fabric won’t end swallowed by the needle throat.
Proceed slowly, sewing a short portion each time and pulling the elastic to ensure gathering is evenly distributed. Always stop with the needle down! Backstitch on both ends.
If you prefer, you can sew a regular hem to the sleeve, omitting the elastic.
Step 7: Side seams and underarm seams
Match the underarm seams (put a pin), right sides together. Align the wrist hem (put a pin) and the bottom hem (put a pin). You can put more pins between pins, but I think those three are more than enough. Ease the fabric to fit in, if needed.
Step 8: Hemband
Assemble and sew on the hemband exactly as you did for the neckband on Step 3, but put only one pin, opposite to the seam.
Turn the nightgown right-side out and slip the hemband around it, right sides together, aligning the three raw edges and matching one side seam (no matter which one) to the seam on the hemband and the other side seam to the pin you’ve just put in.
Put pins on the band side, because you’ll be sewing (or better, serging) the hemband in place with the bodice piece down, toward the feed dogs.Make sure the hemband will stretch enough to fit the bottom hem of the bodice.
Put more pins if needed to evenly distribute the gathering and sew or serge in place.
Phew… it’s been a long one! Are you still reading me? Congrats!
Let me show you just a couple pictures of another Bubble Vitaminic Nightgown I’ve sewn: my daughter is wearing them intensively and I’ll be sewing more soon, for sure!
In fact, I’ve had a pressing request to sew some “daygowns” for school, to be worn above leggings. I personally think it’s a good idea!
I will use the same pattern to create cute minidress and nobody will know it was for a nightgown…unless they are Craftsy reader!
Now it’s your turn! Sew your own Bubble Vitaminic Nightgown using the free pattern and upload your project pictures!