Saturday, 27 September 2014

Butterick 5704; or, In Which I Totally Over-think Pyjamas

I urgently needed some PJ bottoms for the cooler weather. I have MANY types of PJ varying from extra thick flannel for the dead of winter to several pairs of hand-made PJ shorts that I wear through the summer. Historically in the autumn I've always worn reasonably good quality lightweight cotton trouser-length PJ bottoms. I tend to wear my PJs to the point of extinction, and when I moved I decided some of my old pairs were beyond deplorable and threw them away. Originally I sort of thought about buying new, because PJs are not super exciting to make, but then I decided that since I already had a pattern and also some very nice 100% cotton fabrics that I had no specific plan for, I would make my own. Also, I wanted an easy sewing task after my recent shirt-making travails.

PJs made with Butterick 5704, as modelled by a hanger
The pattern I used is Butterick 5704. It's a See and Sew pattern (ie. very cheap) and I got it half price. I originally bought it for view A, which is a knit hoodie pattern where the hood is attached to a V-neck. View C, though, is a very unexciting but wholly functional pair of woven PJ trousers.
Butterick 5704 technical drawing

I've heard such ridiculous horror stories about Big 4 trouser patterns that I took the precaution of comparing the pattern to the most recent version I made of the Ottobre 05-2011-02 PJ shorts, which I knew were quite comfortable and also to a pair of very old, washed-a-million times, and much loved cotton PJs. I mean, these are basically unfitted garments so I wasn't too worried, but everyone trash talks the Big 4 so much on pants I thought I'd best check. And the end result was... that the patterns were only slightly different in shape and size and they were both a good match to my existing PJs that I love. In the end I just cut a size Large and they are totally fine as far as an unfitted pair of trousers is concerned.

Since I had the much loved, and originally very expensive (though I bought them on sale, because I'm a cheapskate) cotton PJs out, I also decided to look at the construction to see if I could learn anything that might allow for similar longevity. They are 100% cotton; every seam was French seamed; and the waist elastic had been overlocked on to the raw edge and then cover-stitched in place. This latter in particular was new to me. Up to this point I've always just made a casing and then threaded the elastic into it. However, this does mean the elastic is free to roll around and twist up inside the casing, which I find irritating.

I copied all of these construction details on my PJ trousers with great success, and I am very hopeful that they'll also last a good long time. Of course, French seaming does at least double the time it takes to make anything, but I figure it's worth it if I don't have to try to mend seams or make replacements later on. Plus, once I had done the cutting out it took 2hrs 15 mins to make each pair, even with French seaming and figuring out the elastic waistband and everything. If they last HALF as long as my beloved old pair, that'll be four and a half hours well spent I reckon.
Paul Smith shirt

Fabric wise, both pairs of PJs were made, rather indulgently, from designer shirting fabric originally made for Paul Smith. The purple checked version was made into a (in my opinion) rather ugly men's shirt that retailed at something like £150. I paid about £7/m including p&p for the fabric and used most of the 2m piece I had. I do have plenty of scrap left over that will do for e.g. pocket bags and waistbands. Originally I was going to use the fabric for a shirt as well, but I wasn't convinced that I liked the colour up against my face when it came down to it, so it might as well be PJs.

The white pair are (although this is hard to detect from the photo) actually a sort of broken white and black check pattern. It too was originally made by Paul Smith into a classic shirt that retailed at over £100, although I've lost the photo of it that I uncovered. I bought 2m of the fabric for £7/m inc p&p. Unfortunately, it was the victim of my own stupidity. Do you ever do stuff and you KNOW it's stupid even as you do it? Well, that was me with this fabric. I was pre-washing a whole load of stuff and I only had this one white fabric. Instead of putting it through by itself, I decided it would be so much more efficient to shovel it in with some pale coloured fabrics.... including a light blue fabric that promptly and patchily shed dye all over it. :| I haven't been able to remove the dye at all, and so PJs was really all it was good for.

 And in conclusion: PJs! Wow, that was a totally overly wordy documentation of a very boring project.

In other news, having worn the blue shirt I finished earlier this week, I spent some time last night making a couple of minor alterations to the back and sleeve and then cutting out a second version in denim blue chambray. I'll be working on that off and on this week, no doubt. I also went nuts and ordered some more shirting fabrics. And I was doing so well on my fabric destashing as well. /o\ Oh, and also, I was out today and went by the little local fabric shop. In their £1 per pattern bin, I found the Coat Pattern of Joy for the black moleskin coat I have been thinking about! It looks horribly complicated, but I am determined to give it a go.


  1. Good Job!
    It's funny, but I find that very often, it's my 'boring sewing projects' that I end up wearing the most. And I don't mind the boring projects, because I prefer 'Quick & Easy' at this stage of the game...

    1. Of all the things I've made, my PJs have been the things that I've worn and washed most often by some considerable distance. I definitely think it is worth making them myself from really nice fabric and taking some time over construction, even if they're not very interesting as a project!