Ever have those projects which actually turn out better than you imagined?! I was really keen on the Fifi Pyjamas when Tilly and the Buttons released the pattern along with the Bettine Dress a couple of months ago. I thought it would be a lovely practical thing to make and a great garment to use all those lovely cotton prints I see but don't generally wear. It wasn't until about half way through construction that I fell properly in love! I was so pleased and proud with how neat it was turning out and the more I sewed the more I discovered how gorgeous the design is. It's got lovely delicate details without being too fussy and could have a contemporary or vintage feel depending on the fabric you choose. Tilly actually got in touch with me when it was released and offered to send me a copy before I had a chance to buy it so this was a free pattern but the opinions in this post are unbiased and entirely mine. It had first grabbed my attention as it's exactly the kind of thing I like to wear in summer and as it's name is mine I couldn't miss out on making it really could I!
I decided to keep my first version clean and simple using plain white throughout. I did think about using a contrasting fabric for the binding as Tilly has on her sample but I opted for classic, there's plenty of time to play around with design details on future versions! The fabric is a lovely soft cotton voile with fine swiss dots throughout. It was actually left over from my first Archer Shirt so I already knew it was good to sew with and would be soft and comfortable to sleep in. I had just over a metre with some odd scrappy ends from where I had cut out my shirt and just about managed to squeeze it out of that. For such a skimpy little set it take up more fabric than you might think as the panels for the top are cut on the bias! The only special treatment I gave it was to use a fairly fine sharps needle to avoid any snags in the delicate fabric.
I cut between the size 2 and 3 as I always do with Tilly and the Buttons' patterns. The sizing chart suggests this is right for exactly my measurements and the fit is bang on. That bias cut really does skim the body and there's a lovely amount of ease for nightwear. I was worried about the coverage of the cups but they're very comfortable on me, the fit is actually really good in that area. Not too snug but fairly form fitting around the lower edge. One of the things I liked most about the order of construction was that the back of the straps are attached almost last so you can adjust the length of them to your ideal once the garment is on.
It's a fairly simple sew if you have some experience under your belt but I imagine in a slippery silk it could be a pretty tricky little project which would require some patience. I imagine it would be totally worth it though; I'd love to make one in a luxurious charmeuse! It was really nice to get stuck into a project which was fairly straightforward but still included some new to me techniques or at least things I don't often do. I've never made nightwear and this was a very satisfying set to make. It's piqued my interest for trying some lingerie now!
I so rarely use elastic that I had to spend a good bit of time remembering where I'd put my elastic stash! I'm not usually a fan of an elasticated waistband but for nightwear it's perfect as it's so comfortable and these shorts are worn on the upper hip. One aspect of the construction that I particularly liked is the way the elastic is attached. It's sewn to the raw edge with a zig zag stitch before being turned under to conceal the raw edge. This means it doesn't slide about or twist as it might when inserted loose into a channel.
It was my first time sewing anything bias cut and I'm really glad I picked a cotton which handles, presses and sews well for the project! Cutting out the pieces the bias was an entirely new experience for me and I actually referred to the cutting layouts for once which is a rarity for me! You have to fold the fabric on the diagonal and use that edge as your fold line, still aligning the grain lines on the pattern pieces with the selvedge. I had no trouble with the bias cut pieces stretching out thanks to Tilly's page of bias cut tips. It's really important to stay-stitch the bias cut edges as instructed and just to be conscious of not pulling or stretching the fabric at all.
I had a couple of moments for pause when working through the instructions but that was just to get my head around a new technique or slightly different way of working rather than because of an error or lack of explanation. They are very thorough instructions and include a full set of colour photos which I like but because of the size of the images and the detailed nature of the garment it's not always easy to see what you need to. The benefit of photos rather than illustrations is that you can really see if what you are doing is the way it is meant to look but there were a couple of times when I couldn't see the stitching in the photo.
The finishing if you follow the instructions and french seam everything is sublime! It's a great project for practicing the accuracy of your sewing as there's lots of parts where you need to be accurate and tidy. I'm actually really proud of how this turned out; it's almost a shame that I can't wear it out and about to show it off! I love the nice crisp narrow hems and little french seams and I'm especially proud of how neat I managed to get the joins around the neckline and at the centre of the bust.
If you're thinking of saving yourself a bit of time and effort with shop bought bias binding I wouldn't recommend it for this project. I made the mistake of doing this on a few of my early projects and it just doesn't achieve the same results. The bought cotton binding has a weird stiff finish which doesn't really go away with washing and for a design like this you want those straps to be nice and soft, not pokey! The satin binding you can get is a little better but I'd much rather use a nice fabric for it and then I can make it just the colour and width I want. I do sigh a little about taking the time at the start of a project to make my own when I just want to get on with the fun sewing but for this it doesn't take long using the pattern pieces Tilly provides and you don't need much.
My favourite design feature is the little pleats that give shaping to the cups! I am tempted to set myself the challenge of sewing this up in a slippery silk, maybe when I've got a lot of time and won't try to rush myself at all! In the mean time I think this would be a great pattern to use one of the African wax printed cotton pieces for that I've been hoarding for some time. I'm definitely going to be making up lots of the shorts at least to wear with tees!
And finally congratulations to Aimee from Guild of Goods! Selected by random number generator from 75 entries, you are the lucky winner of the copy of the new Joan Dress pattern from Sew Over It! I've sent you a message via the comment form on your blog but if you see this please contact me via the email address on my About page to let me know your postal address. I loved your herringbone/tweed idea and hope you enjoy making it!