Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Mermaid PJs

A little while ago I bought 2 yards of Heather Ross Mendocino fabric to make the pyjama pants in Sew Hip issue 7.

I used the FT to make a paper pattern first, rather than drawing round my existing PJs straight on to my fabric as suggested.

I cut out the first leg on the vertical, only to find I could not get a second leg out on the vertical, and had to cut it on the horizontal. Which means my mermaids are swimming in different directions. Good job I'm only going to lounge round the house in my PJ pants!

I wasn't convinced the Sew Hip seaming instructions would give a good result, so instead, I used a method I previously used to make trousers, which generally gives a neat crotch seam, and also allows you to adjust for fit reasonably easily. I'll explain it here in case anyone else reading this is planning to make these and is interested in an alternative, proven method.

Sew the inside leg seams first, stopping at the crotch seam seam allowance - not sewing in the crotch seam allowance will help when you sew the crotch seam later. Press the seams open; finish seams as you desire. (Finishing the seams was not in the SH instructions, but I like my seams to be seemly so I finished mine.)

Now turn one pyjama leg the right way out. Keep the other leg with the wrong side out. In the photo below, the right side out leg is on the left. This one is going to go inside the other, wrong side out leg.

Slip the right side-out pyjama leg inside the other leg, so that the right sides are facing, matching the crotch seams and side seams. Open out the crotch seam so it looks like a U-shape, like this:

Here's another photo, with my cutting mat slipped between the fabric layers to make the U-shape easier to see:

Now pin along the crotch seam. Use lots of pins if you intend to check fitting, so that the legs are securely fastened together.

After pinning the crotch seam is an excellent time to check fitting - it's much easier to adjust the fit before you sew the crotch seam. Turn the trousers the right way out and pull them on. If they are too big, you can pin inside to indicate any changes needed, and re-sew the inside leg seams if necessary.

When you're ready, turn the trousers inside out again with one leg inside the other, and then sew along the U-shaped crotch seam with the appropriate seam allowance. Take special care at the point where the leg seams attach. You need to make sure both inside leg seams are pressed open when you are sewing the crotch seam, and that you sew exactly where the inside leg seams end.

After that, when you take one trouser leg out of the other, you'll find you have a pair of trousers. It's like magic!

I would make these again, and next time, I will:
  • cut the pieces a bit smaller so I don't have to adjust and re-sew. I already cut down my paper pattern in anticipation.
  • make sure I cut both pieces in the same direction on the fabric (which means, for a vertically-oriented print, buying 3 yards to be sure of having enough)

I have my eye on some Kokka fairytale fabric for the next pair, just got to save up a bit of money first!


  1. Interesting and I'll try that - but most importantly, where did you get the fabric from? I love that mermaid fabric and have been trying to find some in the UK without much luck!

  2. Hi, thanks for leaving us a comment on TLBG. We'll put your blog on our list of members, and you can follow us too if you want. Thanks for joining in and we look forward to reading your first post!
    Love the PJ's by the way!
    Rachel & Emma