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Jun 2, 2019

Men's Pajamas with Corded Piping

Readers, some of you may recognize this vintage 1930's Advance men's pajama pattern.

I purchased it almost four years ago and used it to make this vintage-inspired denim jacket.  Regardless of what you may think of the jacket, I almost never wore it (too boxy and stiff) and it's no longer in my possession.

Anyway, I did like the pajama pattern, particularly the piped solid version. The last time I made myself pajamas was eight years ago.  It was time to give it another try and attempt something a little more challenging.

I always cut my own bias strips and it's just one more easy step to stitch the strip around cording to create piping (you can see a short video of me sewing it here.)  I buy my cording at Daytona Trim, where they sell a variety of thicknesses.  I found that if I cut 1 1/2" wide bias strips, once I folded it over my relatively thick cording, I was left with a seam allowance of roughly 1/2", which is what I wanted since the seam allowances in my vintage pattern were 1/2".  NOTE: when you sew your bias around the cording, sew close to the cord but not as close as possible: you don't want this first line of stitching to show in your finished garment--or any stitch line for that matter.

The most challenging part of these piped pajamas was getting the bias around the shaped collar.  It helps tremendously to snip into the seam allowance of the bias so you can shape it around the curves.

This kind of decoration is definitely time-consuming: first you sew your bias around the cording.  Then you attach the corded piping to one side of the collar (with the bias facing in, since you'll be turning the collar right side out.  Then you sandwich the bias between your inner and outer collar layers and attach them.  Sometimes, if your stitching isn't close enough to the cording, you might have to stitch again.  It's a lot of sewing but the result can be dramatic.

Attaching my bias to one layer of my collar.
After attaching the inner and outer collar (with the bias in between), I trim my seam allowances before turning right side out.
The turned collar -- snazzy!

Sometimes people stitch another row of topstitching beside the piping.  Since my flannel is pillowy, I like the look without any additional toptstitching.  Another option is to stitch in the ditch, but again, it's really optional and depends on your fabric and the look you want.

Since my gray cotton flannel is extremely soft and drapey, I serged my inside seam allowances and stitched them down to form faux flat-felled seams -- much easier and the result looks the same.

This vintage pajama pattern also has piping on the left breast pocket (there's a separate piped facing piece), and on the cuff.

The collar came out especially nice looking.  I have the exact same gingham in green and in light blue and I considered those colors, but I think the orange has the greatest impact.

The Advance pattern also includes a neck facing.  For fun, I cut my facing in the orange gingham.

Here's the completed pajama top.  I love the way it looks and it's super comfy if not quite right for June.

I'll post more photos when I finish the bottoms, which I hope to do soon.  Sadly, I don't have enough flannel left for long bottoms so I'll have to make short ones.  Oh well--as somebody reminded me, your legs are under a blanket anyway!

In closing, have you ever made piped pajamas, or piped anything?  What was the experience like?

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. That looks terrific, Peter...many years ago, I did self piping around the neckline and armholes on a sleeveless dress...but that was easy compared to the notched collar & curves that you made....almost forgot, took and upholstery course and did piping around some of the trim on a chair and upholstered cornice...........

  2. I have never made pajamas anything, but piping is always nice.

  3. It's come out lovely! And you could always make the pants out of the orange gingham if you have enough left.

  4. I put piping between the facing and lining on jackets, per direction ok Kennth D. King. It’s fairly straightforward and adds a colorful element. I’ve also used piping on pillow covers.

  5. Wow what a great idea with gingham bias tape!

  6. I like to use binding -- either bias or straight-of-grain -- as flat piping for decoration on garments that have pieces I cannot pattern-match: the little line of contrast helps hide that flaw. Also lets me introduce a contrast color/pattern as a repeat of a design element, so that the "piping" looks like a deliberate design choice and not a mistake.

    I agree that the orange gingham was the best choice for this elegant bit of sleepwear.

  7. My piping efforts were less than stellar. Then again, I had no assistance in how to do corners, or handling seams or overlapping areas to avoid lumps & bulk, so maybe under the circumstances, the results weren't quite as bad as I recall. I haven't attempted piping since.

    The orange gingham on grey is quite handsome. Part of me likes the suggestion of making the bottoms out of the gingham. Another part says that would put them over being too sweet. I fear it's one of those need to see it before deciding things for me :-/

  8. Perfect piping!

    I'm pro-orange, for the record.

  9. It's really hard, sometimes, to get the second line of stitching close enough to the cord so that the original stitching doesn't show. So if I were making my own piping, I would use water soluble thread to make the piping so it disappears in the first washing. It's available on Amazon. No affiliation.

    1. That's why the original stitch line should be close to the cording but not right up against it. Save that for the final line of stitching.

  10. I was the queen of piping after reading the Professor King's Cool Couture (which is a bible of piping). I determined that leaving a wider distance between the cording and the stitching on the first pass would solve for the X brain factor I suffer from in top stitching (I sew too close to the edge). And I fooled myself into doing it right. You just need to secure it, not snug it up (that's where a zipper foot comes in handy on the final stitching line). I've been a flat piping kid lately: clearly this is a sign I need to get the cording out. And I do have those western shirt patterns....

  11. Miles and miles of it! It's super handy for wide necklines and other places that may need a little more grip than a normal seam can offer. I love it in plain or tailored formal gowns like wedding or evening gowns, because it makes it abundantly clear that the simplicity is a choice, not a lack of imagination.
    Top tp for pyjamas or other garments where you want the look buy possibly not the ridge of the cord - use a finer cord and then once sewn into the collar etc, pull the cord out. It is very even that way but no ridge. :)

  12. Working with a wonderful costumer back in my student days, Corliss Nickerson!! Showed me how to pipe a neckline that's likely to gap on a gown. Then you snug the cord and tack it down next to the back zipper (for future stretch worries). I use this all the time to keep necklines smooth and tight. Your gingham cording trim is just fabulous. Don't worry, it will soon be November and. You can don that as a bed jacket over a tshirt!

  13. I would just like to point out that your project IS 100% appropriate for June... in the Southern Hemisphere! We are in the middle of winter in the real south, so these digs are super "On Trend" for our time of the year!
    (Just showing that appropriateness is dependent...)

  14. Such detailed perfection. Ottobre Design 07 2018 has piped pyjama patterns. Though they omit the piping- bias strip folded and pressed then attached so 3mm protrudes. Have just finished the men's jacket...not perfect but I love it.

  15. PS...the instructions for the flat piping breast pocket were challenging..for me

  16. If you are concerned that the original stitching line will show, sew it the second time using a zipper foot. You can get close in with a zipper foot. I made our daughter a very full, floor length long sleeved robe using old fashioned 1970's brushed poly robe material, and I piped the cuffs, shoulder seam and neck seam. I covered the cord with metallic material and quilted a piece of fabric to use as the material for the yokes. What a fun robe, fit for a queen. It weighed a ton by the time I was all through fussing with it.

  17. Grading the piping via sewing where the ends meet produces inconspicuous joins. I make small cross stitch Christmas ornaments, and often stuff them, with piping in the seam between ornament and backing fabric. When you are dealing with the join, overlap the ends and direct the excess fabric straight down behind the garment or ornament, or between front and back fabric, and sew across the cord in both ends. This is hard to describe, but do it and you will see what I mean. You will get an inconspicuous straight join. Cut off the excess and pull and finger press the join to make it lay straight.

  18. I like this pattern. The view with the asymmetrical front placket is intriguing. That sort of design, with a more exaggerated curved placket (often going to the middle of the shoulder seam, with exposed buttons at the seam and an opening all the way to the sleeve seam) was used in the 1930's for dentist and doctor smocks. the garments were often closely fitted, gathered to a half belt waist in the back. You did a really nice job on this garment, and chose a really nice fabric. If you bought some fabric for the pants with a similar weight and hand to what you used for the top, in a charcoal shade, a few shades darker than the top, I think you would be happy with the result. A coordinating shade can be just as pleasing, if not more so, than a matching shade. I love sewing for my husband. When you sew men's clothes, you can't fudge things, you have to know how to fit a pattern. I am making my husband a lovely heavy flannel shirt his winter, with caped front and back yokes. Snow is flying, so it's time to settle in for a long winter of sewing.


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