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Mar 11, 2010

The Pajama Game

To go by current men's sewing patterns, you'd think most guys never left the house.  Based simply on the number of patterns out there, men wear bathrobes, pajamas, vests and, on holidays, a cumberbund. 

Where could you go in an outfit like that, besides 7-Eleven?

Frankly, I don't have much use for a cumberbund and the last time I wore a vest was my senior year high school production of Oklahoma!  As for pajamas, with the exception of Michael's septuagenarian father, no one I know wears them, myself included.

OK, that's not entirely true.

I picked up this old pattern (not really vintage -- 1996) to make a nightshirt for Michael a couple of months ago.  It came out kind of cute, imho.

I know I said we didn't wear pajamas, but I've always thought nightshirts adorably retro in a "Little Rascals" kind of way.  It's the closest we'll ever get to lingerie.

Anyway, that same month I made the nightshirt, I made these pajama bottoms, also for Michael:

Fast forward to the present.  You may recall this green seersucker from my last fabric-shopping spree:

Yesterday, taking a much-needed break from knits, I returned to my pajama pattern one more time and made these:

They're really for Michael, and more for lounging than for sleeping.  Thankfully, we don't have 7-Elevens here so they probably won't leave the house.  With a tee shirt or tank top however, you probably could wear them outside, especially at the beach.

I made them with my new Singer 15-91: my absolute favorite sewing machine.  Here I am finishing up some flat-felled seams.

I used my Singer Spartan with the buttonholer attachment to make these lovely buttonholes.

Here are my seams from the inside:

My friends, it's time you made your man some pajamas.  He doesn't have to sleep in them.

Don't have a man?  Then make some for yourself.  The techniques involved, like flat-felled seams (not necessary, but a nice touch that lends durability), are great practice for making dress shirts as well as pants, since you're also dealing with a fly, a waistband, and all those intersecting seams below the crotch.  And the fit is much, much easier.

I recommend visiting Etsy or eBay and buying the cheapest pajama pattern you can find in the correct size.  Pajamas haven't changed in decades and a really old vintage pattern (from the 40s, say) would be great fun to put together.  (If you find one in a mens 36" and you don't want it, send it my way.)

And take my word for it: he'll wear them; you'll wear them.  He really doesn't want a vest.

Now for your entertainment, the best movie EVER about pajamas AND the garment industry hands down (and isn't that Gertie in the polka dot dress in the second number?):

Happy Thursday, everybody!


  1. Wow the ones you made for Michael look so much like the ones I made my husband! He calls them his "gaming pants" since he tends to wear them while he plays XBox games. I polled him, and he didn't think a fly front was worth the effort. Definitely a pleaser!

  2. Peter, I have something you might like... *dangles a late '30s Simplicity 1617 in size 36.... Won it off the Pattern Junkie... Nobody around here can wear it....

  3. Peter, love the nightshirt and the pajama pants. Your flat felled seams are wonderful!
    BTW, if you ever land in Australia you're more than welcome to come and visit at my home.

  4. I have pretty much just come to the conclusion that most of what I make is for friends and my girlfriend since every pattern catalog I have looked at has all of four pages of miserable men's stuff.

  5. Hi Peter, I'm a bit of a selfish Seamstress so haven't made many items for the man, but I also feel there aren't many decent men's patterns about. I have made a recent discovery: Lekala Patterns from Russia. You input your measurements and they custom print the pattern for you.
    Some very interesting KGB-type styles to look at!

  6. I have made PJs for my husband and he likes them a lot, but I must say: Those patterns have changed. But maybe it was just an 80s detour. The first pattern I tried was from 1990 - I took them in 8 inches (on the pattern) in the side seams (I kid you not) and they where still HUGE. I then got hold of one from BWOF a few years back - much better.

  7. This is yet another idea I'll have to add to my unreasonably long sewing queue! I do love seersucker, and my husband definitely lounges around in his pajamas on weekend mornings (and afternoons)... the only pair he has are from his college days 13 years ago and they still have a hole from when he rode his bike in them and they got caught in the chain. Plus I would love to test my new flat-felling foot...

    But I had better focus on getting my dress done for now, my cousin's bar mitzvah is only two days away.

  8. I have made my boy some silk boxers and he has appreciated those!

  9. Oh wow, there was a boy's version of the McCall's pjs I've been making all this time?? Weird, now this does push you into my male version territory (recycled sheets shirts - check, pjs - check etc). Completely agree with how pjs are made for wearing in the house though, and not for sleeping. Well, out of the house sometimes, depending on where you live :-).

  10. I love those old videos. Ok, that's it. I'm making the pink ruffled dress and getting my hair dyed platinum.

  11. Thanks for all your pajama enthusiasm, invitations and offers. How cute are those "Pajama Game" videos? It makes me want to get back into my pajamas right this minute!

  12. (OK, I need jeans like those Fosse dancers are wearing...)

  13. Great looking pj's and the videos are fun :)

  14. New too you Darling, So smooches, You are so in tune with what a seamstress needs to listen to while try to finish an order. Where have you been all my life??? Nice to make your acquaintance.

  15. You did such a great job on the seersucker PJs with your "new" machine.

    I made my husband a nightshirt very much like the one here, except it was a T-shirt knit material with ribbed cuffs. He still wears it from time to time. Calls it his "dress."

  16. Peter,
    I wear pajamas - flannel pajamas in the winter.
    And I agree - there are hardly any patterns out there for men.
    I recently purchased a nice dress shit pattern - McCall's M6044.
    Haven't made it yet.

  17. Jonathan, I hope you mean "shirt." LOL

  18. Peter,
    yikes! guess I was typing too fast.

  19. Really nice to find a man with sewing skills AND a blog. Glad I found you:-)

    I have a swedish blog som that's hard for you to understand I think, but you can always look at the pictures :-)

    Fun thursday, Hanna

  20. I agree with AnneLO that the sizing of newer pajama pants run huge. I sew a pair for my husband from McCall's 3819 copyrighted 2002 and there is a lot of ease. However, husband prefers this pair to closer fitting ones. He says wearing it is so comfortable he felt like he is wearing nothing. He could be bias as he grew up in the tropics and therefore is used to lounging in sarongs. Now that we live in 4 seasons weather and he wears pj pants to play wii, pj pants are so much more practical as in they don't fall down and are warmer. Personally,I think closer fitting pj pants look better but then when it comes to loungewear, I guess comfort should come first and my man seems to prefer a lot of ease. Recently, husband wore his pj pants to shovel snow off the driveway.

    I think your using seersucker is a great idea. Makes me start thinking of sewing comfy pj pants that don't look like pj pants in case hubby decides to do yardwork in them.

  21. great advice and pyjamas ... my michael (Mr H really) just started wearing pyjamas and even if you don't sleep in them they make the perfect summer lounging around wear. i'm feeling inspired

  22. Peter, would you like my pattern? As much as I like the picture on it, I'll probably never make it.... Though I should probably check to see if my brother-in-law would fit it! ;) If he does, I can always trace you off a copy...

  23. He's too small. :) It's all yours if you want it. A vintage '30s pajama pattern....

  24. Those would definitely work at the beach with a light tee shirt. Very nice.

    The first (and so far, only) pair of pjs I've made Jim are in the most loud and obnoxious golf print I could find. Hehehe. I definitely owe him some that aren't so wacky.

  25. I help my daughters make a pair of flannel PJ pants for my husband for Christmas. Each year they do more of the work. Each child gets to choose the flannel print for one leg, so the results are truly hysterical. This year: insanely happy ladybugs on a green ground one leg, tiny rescue vehicles on orange on the other. You know, in case there's an insanely happy ladybug emergency. He wears them with pride, and (when answering the door) has caused more than one person to snort in some sort of horror laugh.

  26. ROTFL! Okay, CH, you've inspired me. We're going to let my two-year-old niece pick out ALL the fabric for our pajama Christmas this year!

  27. I'm a lifelong guy sewer and I remember when there used to be tons of patterns for men. Designers like Kenzo, Willy Smith, and others had great looks. You could buy patterns for swim suits, boxers, suits, everything. Now the patterns are horrible. You made some cute jammies. But, as you said, most of us don't wear them. Mike and I don't, either.

  28. Hi, Buckley, and welcome. I actually have a vintage Willy Smith coat pattern that I never got around to making last fall. Maybe later this year!

  29. Inspiration! I can use small bits of cotton wovens and knits (those left overs that are a yardish) and make myself pj shorts.
    (no short jokes, or else you tall thin beautiful people). It is getting really warm here and regular jammies are out.

    Thanks for the brilliant idea Mr. Peter.


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