Knockoff: RTW Nightgown
A week or so ago, I undertook my second attempt ever to copy an existing garment. Not just a design knockoff, but to literally copy a garment in my possession. A lot of you readers might say to yourself, “Big deal, I do that all the time.” Well, I don’t do that all the time. I had a lot of questions. I thought about all the ways it could go wrong.
Starting with the garment in question this time, an old knit nightgown of my mother’s. This nightgown is old. It’s been worn and washed uncountable times. When I tried to trace off a pattern from it, I could see that it either wasn’t cut and sewn on grain, or it had warped out of shape so much from wear and washing. It was really difficult to get a “read” on the cut of this garment. Also, there was gathering on the bodice front and raglan sleeves. Since I wasn’t going to take apart my mother’s existing nightgown to make a pattern, I had to guesstimate the amount fabric for the gathering on both the front pattern piece and on the raglan sleeve pattern. I traced the front, the back and the sleeves. I opted not to include the keyhole opening on the front bodice to simplify things just a bit.
I sewed up a muslin in a knit from the stash that I just knew wasn’t worthy of real garment status. It just reeked of pilling potential. It had a cute print, but I didn’t trust it to last more than a couple of washes. In my muslin process, I discovered that I forgotten to true up my side seams and my hems. I slapdashed those up to a modicum of evenness. I slavishly copied the neck binding treatment from the original garment, but it seemed bulky and unnecessarily complicated. It was an inside and outside binding sewn together with two fronts and one back. A lot of seams, bulk and work for a little nightgown. I consulted my friend Beth from Sunnygal Studio and she agreed that I could do it more simply and pointed me to this video tutorial on Threads which I used for my final neck treatment.
For the final version of the nightgown, I chose a knit I’ve had in my stash almost from the beginning of my sewing career. I bought it specially for my Mom, always intending to make her PJ’s out of it, from Fabric.com probably about 6 years ago. It has a beautiful hand, silky and substantial. It’s a pinkish peach background with a taupe geometric pattern, colors that my Mom has worn a lot. I remember buying at least four yards, because I was going to make some PJ’s for myself as well. which I just might do tomorrow. 😉
The muslin fit was ok, if a bit wide in the neckline. I had forgotten to gather the raglan sleeves and I probably didn’t gather the front neckline enough. I didn’t stretch the neck binding as I sewed it, so it is a bit unstable.
Today, I trued up the side seams and hem on the paper pattern, then I cut out and sewed up my mom’s nightgown. It probably took me about 3.5-4 hours total from cutting to hemming. I didn’t add lace to the sleeves, nor did I add the keyhole, as I mentioned earlier. The neck binding worked like a charm and is very stable.
I coverstitched the hem and just folded over the edges of the raglan sleeves and stitched them on my Featherweight. They aren’t fitted sleeves, so I just used a longer stitch length.
My mom really loves her new nightgowns (she even wants the dodgy muslin!). I’m so glad that I have the ability to replicate well-loved garments. It was fun figuring out how to make this nightgown; kind of like a puzzle or a mystery. I really enjoyed the process, even if it took some thinking and help along the way. It was awesome to use up some deep stash too. I can’t believe I actually kept to the original plan for the fabric. Awesome!
Here are the original, muslin and final versions side by side for comparison.
Happy sewing everyone!