Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tutorial for How to Make a Little Girl's Summer Nightgown

We are officially melting here in the Northeast! At least it motivates me to get in gear for day trips to the lake and beach...which is where we've been most every day for a whole week! But I'd been itching to sew up a little something too...

Last week I made Isabelle a cute nightgown to help keep her cool during these sweltering nights...but it still wasn't quite what I was hoping for.  So I whipped up another one, and this one is so pretty and feminine, and most importantly, loose fitting and airy.

 someone was just a little bit excited about her new pretty nightie!!!

It went together quick, even with multiple interruptions from my crew.

Oh how I loooooove my kiddos, but I suspect we may be just a tad sick of each other about this time. I may or may not have immersed myself in this project all day yesterday to try and hide a bit. Maybe.

Onto the project.
I found my inspiration from a couple of her summer tops I love and set out to create the perfect summer nightgown. I would call this a modified pillowcase pattern with ruffled straps. How's that for a title?  =)

I knew I wanted a very smooth, soft cotton, and I was thinking muted colors, something calming...voila! White polka dots on a delicate pink background- perfect! I also wanted ruffled shoulder straps and a bit of gathering to keep it light and airy.

I cut out a basic rectangle (as if for a pillowcase dress) approximately 20 inches across and 24 inches top to bottom for the size I wanted. Next I drew a chalk line diagonally along one side to create more of an A-line shape. Simply fold the fabric in half and cut along the other side. Don't throw these scraps away! You're going to use those for the straps and ruffles!

 (upside down view...oops!)

I measured about 9 inches down on the bigger piece of fabric and cut two straps, about 2 1/2 inches wide. I doubled the length of the ruffle pieces (just fold it in half, top to bottom, and match it up to the strap) and cut one edge with a slight arcing curve.

{not sure why I took this picture with the white edge still intact- this gets cut right off- the pieces on the left are the ruffle pieces, which are folded in half & slightly curved}

Lastly, align front and back pieces and cut a backwards J-shaped curve on each side for the underarm, exactly as you would a basic pillowcase dress. I used my inspiration shirts as a guide for how big to make the cuts- it's all pretty forgiving so I was able to eyeball it. Now all the pieces are cut and you're ready to start sewing!
{pardon the fold embarrassing!}   :)

Stitch the nightgown front and back sides together and press open. I also used pinking sheers because this fabric frays and gets "thready." Truth be told, I am not a huge fan of serging, but you could certainly serge the edges or simply zig zag them, or even sew with beautiful French seams (which is what I rely upon for making things I sell in my little Etsy shop). Or leave them alone entirely. You decide.

Stitch the nightgown sides together, front to back and press open. I also used pinking sheers because this fabric frays and gets "thready." Next, iron a narrow hem along the underarm area, and then turn under again and pin in place. Now it's ready to stitch. Note that the curve part can be tricky- sometimes it helps to make some teeny snips along the curve to ease the fabric under for the hem. I've written a small post about it here. My Mom loves to use binding and bias tape, but I prefer to iron and stitch a narrow hem. I think I also ironed a narrow hem and stitched around the bottom of the nightgown at this point. Or you can do that last- it won't matter much.

The 'inspiration' tank tops each had dainty elastic casings for both the front and backs, and that's exactly what I wanted for the nightgown. I love the tiny ruffle detail on the striped tank, but placing it at the bottom of the casing would require additional piecing and more work, so I opted for a much simpler ruffle along the top edge. To do this, all you have to do is make the fold for the casing a bit larger than necessary, and this "extra" fabric at the top becomes the ruffle.

I forgot how long the two pieces of elastic were...maybe 8ish inches? I was using the tank top as a guide, so you can do that too- nothing has to be too technical or perfect! Insert a safety pin into one end of the elastic to pull it through the casing, taking care not to yank it right through to the other side- I pin mine in place at the edge so I don't lose it inside the casing. Stitch in place at each end.

See how that pretty little ruffle forms? Love it!

Now onto those darling ruffled straps! Iron a narrow hem all along the curved edge of the ruffle, turn under and iron again, pinning in place. Stitch. You should baste along the straight edge and pull up the threads to gather the ruffle...but I've grown lazy in my old age and simply gather as I sew, pushing the fabric around with my fingers. I left about an inch on each end of the strap, and curved the ruffle so that no unfinished edge would show.
 pretty, huh?!?!

Iron lightly and smooth the ruffle out as best as you can before folding up the opposite side, enclosing the ruffle inside. Take your time with this step, and be sure that the ruffle isn't bunched up somewhere in the stitch line. Stitch from one end to the other to make a "tube" with the ruffle on the inside- make sure you tack the ends!- and then gently turn right side out. It's difficult for the very first part, but once the ruffle starts to peek out you can tug it carefully to pull the rest of the strap right side out.

Here's what it looks like before you stitch the edges together to form the ruffled strap...
make sure the ruffle is SMOOTH and lying relatively flat for this part!

Press lightly and top-stitch each edge. This may have been a good time to tuck the ends inside and stitch them closed, but I did not. Instead I ended up ironing them under twice to form a narrow hem and stitching in place.

Now you'll attach the straps to the bodice. I chose to sew these on by hand, but usually I line things up so I'm able to stitch in the ditch to secure them.
{aah, a sweet little bow adds the perfect touch!}
Sweet Dreams!

And there you have it! A beautiful, easy summer nightgown for your little princess! 
Happy sewing!

Summer 2016: I've just had a baby (!!!!) and I made several of these nightgowns for me, and they are THE BEST for pregnancy and nursing. I used a t-shirt as my template and cut the same basic pieces for my nightgown as I did for the little girl's one above.

I also shared some tips and tricks for taking your own maternity pictures in THIS POST

Here are some additional tutorials:

Summer Nightie with EASY Angel Wing Straps

How to sew easy French seams.

The Opposites Dress

Upcycling Old Leggings (especially those with worn knees) & Adding Details to your Handmade Clothing

this was from a couple summers later...still wearing this cute little nightie!  =)

To visit my Etsy shop, Rose & Ruffle, click HERE.

Join  us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap 
 up           party!


Jenny said...

LOVE it!!! So pretty and dainty!

btanders said...

Very cute and girly! My girls would flip for this!

christini yogini said...

absolutely adorable!!!! both the nightie and the model :)
I'd love to make one of these for my sweet girl. Thanks so much for sharing the how to!
Hope your day is wonderful!

Lindsay said...

CUTE!!! I made an Easter dress similar to this for my 3yo patterned after her favorite shirt.

DIYbyDesign said...

That is super cute. I am definitely going to make one of these for my daughter. Thanks for sharing at my Sizzle into Summer party.

Melissa said...

Precious! The nightie is very sweet too ;)

Jeni_Ream said...

I am going to have to make one for my little sweetie! :D

Sommer said...

That turned out fabulously! I could make bunches of these for my girls =) They love nightgowns. Please come by and show this off at my VIP party today =)

The Autocrat: Haley said...

Super stinkin' cute! Great job!

JessicasJoy said...

Thank you for this adorable pattern! I just finished making this nightie for my four year old and she is beaming! Can't thank you enough for this quick, easy and super cute tutorial!

Crystal said...

Love love LOVE this! Thank you! My 2 year old now has three of these, and they're her favorites! Thinking of shortening the idea into a lil summer shirt. :-) Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this great tutorial and inspiration! My daughter loves the ones I sewed... I do too, except the fabric she picked out is, well, a little jarring. Today I posted about the version I made (inspired by yours) and linked to you as the original source, right here:

Kristy said...

This is precious!!! As is your sweet model! :) Thanks for sharing!

Lindsey said...

I love this and want to make it for my 2 year old daughter - get a jump start for the summer. Approximately what size would this fit? She's a 2T and i'm wondering if this will work for that size. Thanks!

CB said...

I made one for my granddaughter out of cotton fabric with kitties on it and a ruffle at the bottom. She absolutely loved it after twirling around several times, LOL!

CB said...

I made a nightie with your tutorial for my granddaughter who is a petite 7 year old, made it in cotton with kitties on it and a ruffle on the bottom. After twirling around several times she declared she loved it! Thanks for caring enough to share it with those of us who love to make our loved ones happy!

Grumpy said...

Thank you! I just made this for my 12 yr old (special needs) daughter who was looking for light and soft nighties. I did it in a plain muslin and then painted her fav character on it, this is pattern is so plain and simple you can pretty it up in so many ways! :) Thanks for taking the time to share with us! :)

johnsmel said...

A great source of soft fabrics are used sheets. You can always find them at the thrift store and since they have been laundered many time they are so soft. I found the prettiest pale pink with small white polka dots and a double sheet was large enough to make at least 2 nightgowns with matching panties - one for each granddaughter. They loved the softness and the sheet only cost me $4!!

Bethany @ Our 4 Sons Plus 1...Super Cute Girly Girl said...

That's a great idea, Melody! Thanks for sharing! xo

Anthony Joseph said...

Waw! Amazing! Such a great post you have shared about Womens NightWear!

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