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Warp & Weft Sewing Society: Storybook – Flutter Sleeve Nightgown {a tutorial to draft & sew}

2014 April 1

When I opened my email a few weeks ago I saw there was a note from Esmari, owner of the online fabric store Warp & Weft. When I read what she had to say I was excited, to say the least – Esmari was asking if I would like to be part of her Sewing Society. Umm… really? The one I obsessively follow around the interweb? Yes, ok, sign me up (like yesterday!). Break for an extended happy dance! Here is an introduction to Warp & Weft and my first Sewing Society reveal, a darling tutorial for a nightgown every little princess would love to wear. (Trust me, I’ve got 2 of them!)

The Warp & Weft Sewing Society centers around some really great bloggers and sewists from across Canada that sew using Esmari’s well-curated stock of fabrics. If you have not visited her shop as yet, you are in for a treat. (I also interviewed her last year.) Esmari has an amazing sense of design and has chosen her fabrics accordingly. When your fabric arrives it looks as amazing as you would want to expect – brown paper packages tied up in string – literally. Gorgeous, and that’s just the packaging!

For my first reveal, I was able to work with Storybook, the latest fabric collection by Kate & Birdie for Moda. This fabric is seriously the softest brushed cotton you can imagine. If it were not for the nightgowns, I would have made a baby quilt with it, front and back – it’s that soft! I used the “Hot Air Balloon”, “Castle”, and “Mistletoe” prints in peach, but Esmari has the more unisex Banana and boy-centred Aqua colourways available as well – making your choice that much harder! (Trust me, you should just buy the bundle!)

Want to make the nightgown? I’ve included all of the steps you need below. This raglan sleeve nightgown has an elasticized neckline to help the little ones with dressing. It also makes it super comfortable and easy to customize for multiple sizes. I was able to use the same size for both of my daughters by only changing the elastic and hem lengths. This tutorial may seem long, but it is not hard, just follow the steps one at a time. I’ve included lots of information and photos so you get a great result!

Please email me if you have any questions, sherri@threadridinghood.com, and I’ll do my best to help you out. And of course, I’d love to see your creations! You can share your projects on Twitter and Instagram @sherrisylvester with the hashtag #alongforthreadride or #threadridinghood, or post them on the Thread Riding Hood Facebook page. (As usual, this tutorial is for personal/charitable use only – thanks!)

To Draft this, you will need:

  • large roll of paper
  • letter size paper
  • pencil/marker for drafting
  • scissors
  • ruler/straight edge
To Sew this (check below for sizing information), you will need:
  • 1 yd/metre for the main fabric & flutter sleeves
  • 1/4 yd/metre for the casing & contrast band (a fat quarter (18″x22″) will work as well)
  • 1/4 – 3/8″ elastic
  • Matching thread
  • Self-drafted pattern piece with sleeve, casing and contrast band measurements (as per instructions below)
  • your normal sewing supplies
Before you begin:
  • Will this draft a pattern piece that will fit my child? This tutorial uses a 1 yd/mtr piece of 42″ wide piece of fabric (after it is pre-washed). Measure around your child’s chest. Due to the loose fit of this gown, if the chest measurement is roughly 18″-27″ this tutorial should work to fit your child. To determine if the gown length will fit within 1 yd/metre, put a well-fitting but not tight tee on your child and measure from the bottom of the armhole to the desired length. If this measurement is not longer than about 26″ everything should fit within 1 yd. Of course, please draft the pattern piece first, and take into account the sleeve, casing and contrast band pieces before purchasing your fabric to avoid disappointment. Also, if the length is too long the child will not be able to walk within the 40″ circle of the gown hem. It is good to double-check this before you begin.
  • This doesn’t fit my child, what should I do? You could use a thinner/wider piece of paper (for ”Drafting the pattern piece: Step 2″) to change the width of the gown to fit a smaller/larger child or even an adult. Take the recipient’s chest measurement and divide it by 4. Double this number and use that as your new paper width measurement. If you are short on fabric, you could probably even get away with only adding 1/2 of the divided chest measurement, instead of doubling it. Take all of the pattern pieces into account when buying fabric. The cutting layout may also need to be different.
  • Measure the Length: Place  a well-fitting (but not tight) tee on your child. Measure from the bottom of the armhole down to the desired length. Note this for later. Keep the tee around, you will use it to draft the pattern piece.

Here we go – Drafting the pattern piece:

  1. Fold the tee in half with wrong side out and fold sleeves into the body along seam line.
  2. Cut a letter/A4 size piece of paper to 10″ wide (or other width as discussed in the “Before you begin” section above).
  3. Line up the folded tee with the side seam on the right side of the paper and the neckline at the top of the paper.
  4. Mark the right side of the shoulder seam (where the neckline is) on your paper. Also mark the top of the side seam (where it meets the armhole).
  5. Remove the tee and draw a curved line between the two marks. This is your armhole. (It is helpful to have the curve end in a 90° angle  between the bottom of the armhole and the side seam.)
  6. Measure the armhole and make a mark at the halfway point and at 1″ past the halfway point (towards the shoulder seam).
  7. Draw a straight line across to the left side of the paper that is parallel to the paper top & bottom. Now, curve the straight line starting about halfway across up to the 2nd armhole mark. Cross off the second half of the straight line – you will not use this for the pattern piece.
  8. Measure the armhole mark from the top of your paper to the 2nd armhole mark. Multiply this measurement by two and write it down. This is your strap length. (My measurement was 5 1/2″ for both girls.)
  9. Cut out the pattern piece along the neckline and armhole. This is the top of the dress/gown.
  10. Get out your large sheet of paper. Kids’ easel paper is great for this step, or taping several sheets of letter paper together works as well.
  11. Place the left side of the pattern piece on the left side of the larger paper, trace the top of the pattern piece.
  12. Subtract 4″ from your length measurement (from the “Before you begin” section, above) for the bottom contrast band. Measure down to this new measurement – this will be called the hemline. Draw a straight line between the armhole and hemline, and then another line from the side seam back to the left side of the paper. Make sure the pattern piece is 10″ across (from edge to edge) all of the way down. (My length measurement was 18″ for my 3 year old and 22″ for my 6 year old.)
  13. Add 1/4″ seam allowance to the neckline and 3/8″ seam allowance to the armhole, side seam and hemline.
  14. Write “Cut on Fold” on the pattern edge, and the pattern details in the centre – including:
    1. Strap Length: This is from step 8. My measurement was 5.5″.
    2. Strap Size: You will need 2 pieces 5 1/2″ wide x double the Strap Length (My strap length measurement was 5 1/2″ so I doubled it and cut 2 pieces 5 1/2″ wide x 11″ long.)
    3. Contrast Band Size: Measure the pattern’s hemline including the seam allowance. Cut 2 pieces 8 3/4″ high x double the width of the hemline measurement you just took. (My hemline width was 10 3/8″. I cut 2 pieces 8 3/4″ high by 20 3/4″ wide.)
    4. Casing Size: Measure the pattern’s neckline. Your Casing Length = “Neckline Width x 4″ + “Strap Length x 4″. Cut 1 piece 1 1/4″ wide x casing length. (My casing length was 54″. Which cam from me adding 8″ x 4 plus 5 1/2″ x 4.)
  15. Done! Cut out the paper pattern piece.

Here we go – Cutting out the Nightgown:

  1. Make sure to pre-wash your fabric and iron well before you continue.
  2. Fold your fabric in half and iron to mark a crease. Unfold and fold each selvage (pre-finished, not raw) edge to the centre mark. You will have an aprox. 10.5″ wide folded edge on each side of your main fabric.
  3. Lay the pattern piece on the fabric with the fold at the left-side fold of the fabric (noting one-way fabrics are in the correct direction). Cut one. Turn the pattern piece upside down, with the top of the pattern piece still at the top of the fabric.
  4. Line up the fold edge at the right-side fold of the fabric. Cut one. Now you should have two opposite main dress/gown pieces.
  5. Cut 2 sleeve pieces from the bottom of the main outer fabric.
  6. Cut the casing as multiple pieces from the 1/4 metre. Stitch them together to make the correct length as noted on your pattern piece.
  7. Cut 2 contrast bands from the 1/4 metre as well.


Here we go – Sewing the Nightgown:

  1. Prepare the casing: Turn 1/4″ to the wrong side along one edge of the casing length. I recommend using this folding template.
  2. Prepare the sleeves: Fold each sleeve piece in half lengthwise. Iron well.
  3. Prepare the contrast band: (1) Match up each short edge with right sides together. Pin. (2) Stitch with a 3/8″ seam allowance to make a large tube. (3) Iron your seams open. Fold the tube sides in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together, matching raw edges. You will have a large tube with right sides showing on both sides, one folded edge and one raw edge.
  4. Attach the sleeves to the front: (1) Lay one dress/gown piece right side up. Match up the top of the armhole with the short raw edge of one sleeve. The raw edges of the sleeve will line up with the neckline, the folded edge will be within the armhole area. Double-check any one-way fabric to ensure it will be right side up once it is sewn. (2) Stitch each sleeve with a 3/8″ seam, starting at the neckline and continuing to the edge of the armhole. We will be using the seam line to hem the edge of the armhole later on.
  5. Attach the sleeves to the back: Lay the front dress/gown fabric right sides together with the back. (The front and back are the same.) Match, pin and stitch the sleeves to the back the same way you did for the other side.
  6. Side Seams: (1) Match the side seams of the front and back dress/gown. Pin. (2) Stitch both side seams with a 3/8″ seam. (3) Finish the edges of your seam with pinking shears or sew a zig-zag stitch over the edges so they will not fray.
  7. Finish the armhole: (1) Use pinking shears or a zig-zag stitch to finish the straight edges of the 2 armholes (the curved edges will resist fraying because they are mostly bias-cut). (2) Clip the bottom of the curve 5 or 6 times to allow it to open up.
  8. Finish the sleeves: (1) Press each sleeve seam allowance towards the main dress/gown. (2) Press the rest of the armhole seam under along the stitching line. Make sure to fold the seam over enough to hide the stitching inside your dress/gown. (3) Top-stitch about 1/8″ away from the armhole seam. Stitch from neckline to neckline on each armhole, this will stitch down the sleeve seam allowance and hem the underarm portion of the armhole.
  9. Adding the contrast band hem: (1) Place the contrast band tube over the bottom of the dress/gown matching the seams and raw edges. Pin. (2) Stitch with a 3/8″ seam allowance. (3) Finish the edges with pinking shears or a zig-zag stitch. (4) Press the seam up towards the dress/gown. Top-stitch along the bottom of the dress/gown aprox. 1/8″ away from the edge of the contrast band.
  10. Adding the casing: (1) Pin the unfolded edge of the casing to the dress/gown neckline somewhere on the dress/gown (do not start the casing on a sleeve). Match the right side of the casing to the wrong side of the neckline. (2) Starting aprox. 3″ in from the beginning of your casing, stitch along the edge of the casing/neckline with a 1/4″ seam until you reach the point 3″ from where you started. Stop stitching and remove your fabric. (3) Fold the fabric in half about halfway between the un-stitched space. Line up your casing and pin. (4) Draw a line on the casing that follows the folded edge of the dress/gown fabric. (5) Stitch along the line being careful to only stitch the casing. Trim the casing seam allowance to 1/4″. Unfold the fabric and casing. Finish stitching the casing to the dress/gown. Iron the casing up, and fold it over the front edge of the nightgown so the wrong side of the casing is on the right side of the gown/dress. (6) Iron the casing up along the neckline, but do not press out the 1/4″ fold you added previously.
  11. Finishing the casing: (1) Fold the casing down over the front of the dress/gown along the seam line. Pin the casing to the neckline making sure the 1/4″ edge is folded under. (2) Top stitch the casing to the neckline along the bottom folded edge with a 1/8″ seam allowance. Leave a 1″ gap in the seam for inserting the elastic.
  12. Insert the Elastic: (1) Feed your elastic through the entire casing. (2) Find the sleeve seam you reached when inserting the elastic, stitch through the casing from top to bottom to secure the elastic. (3) Find the next sleeve seam and measure between the seams. Pull the elastic through the casing to tighten/loosen this measurement until it equals the Strap Length from “Drafting: Step 14″. Secure the elastic by stitching through the casing at the second sleeve seam. (4) Now measure across the back/front neckline between the sleeve seams – this should be 1/2″ or so larger than the Strap Length. Secure the elastic by stitching through the casing at the next sleeve seam. (5) Repeat Step 12.3 for the next sleeve and then the final neckline back/front.
  13. Finishing the Dress/Gown: (1) After measuring the final back/front, cut the elastic with 1/2″ extra space for overlap. (I had not trimmed the elastic in the photo.) Pin, stitch to secure. (2) Place the elastic within the casing, top-stitch the gap shut, matching your other stitching. Done!

Try your lovely nightgown on your little one and watch their happy dance. Or maybe a fairy princess ballet? They’ve inspired both in my daughters!

Love it? Don’t forget to pick up your own Kate & Birdie Storybook fabric from Warp & Weft!

** Please note: This is a sponsored post and the fabric was provided to me at no cost by Warp & Weft. However, as always, all opinions are my own and I will never promote something to you that I do not love myself. **

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24 Responses leave one →
  1. April 1, 2014

    Wow… this is *FABULOUS*!! The nightgowns are absolutely beautiful, and your girls are dolls!! Well done!!
    Carla recently posted… March Take 3 Challenge Recap!My Profile

    • April 2, 2014

      Thank you Carla! I love how they turned out – and thankfully it is easy to self-draft so it made a good tutorial.

  2. April 1, 2014

    Ooo – I just added the blue patchwork version to my shopping cart! I want them all, but at least that one has all the prints and my husband won’t kill me for getting twenty yards with no purpose other than to just lay on them :)
    Amy recently posted… Military Monthly – AprilMy Profile

    • April 2, 2014

      OOOOhhhh I love the patchwork versions! They would make fabulous cheater quilts or baby blankets too. :)

  3. Esmari Taylor permalink
    April 1, 2014

    Oh wow, they came out so nicely! Looks like the girls like them too!
    Thanks so much for the super tutorial – will certainly be passing it along to all my stitchy friends!

    • April 2, 2014

      Thanks to you too Esmari! The girls are super happy and were elated to finally get to wear them last night.

  4. April 1, 2014

    These are very cute. I am tempted to make some in my size….
    Eska recently posted… Why Kraft Paper is AwesomeMy Profile

    • April 2, 2014

      You totally should Eska! I was thinking about doing that too :)

  5. April 1, 2014

    So, so, so cute! What sweet little models too!
    Lysa recently posted… April’s Calendar… and that’s no joke!My Profile

    • April 2, 2014

      Thank you, Lysa – I’ll let them know. I picked up your calendar last night too – gorgeous! :)

  6. April 2, 2014

    The dresses are beautiful! I love the fabric too! Did you buy it online or at your local store (JoAnns’)? Thank you for sharing the pattern; I may make some for my little girls since summer is right around the corner; hopping over from the We Did It Link-up Party :)
    Claudia @ Living on Borrowed Days recently posted… Crafty Claudy: {Wristlet Wallet}My Profile

  7. April 5, 2014

    Those are super sweet! Makes me wish I had a little girl to sew for! Thanks for sharing your process.
    Lorna McMahon recently posted… Equilateral Triangle Quilt Along – Week #3My Profile

  8. fran permalink
    April 13, 2014

    This is very sweet, and your models are, too! Would this pattern work if I want to make a cotton dress? Thanks!!

    • April 14, 2014

      Hi Fran, This tutorial would be fine for woven or knit fabrics. So a cotton would work well. I’m glad you like it! :)

  9. April 14, 2014

    I just ordered fabric to try this for my daughters. Excited!

    • April 14, 2014

      Hooray Katie! I’m so glad :) Any feedback on the tutorial would be greatly appreciated! Let me know if you have any questions.

  10. Savannah permalink
    April 26, 2014

    Hi, I love this pattern and just drew it out to make one for my daughter but I am stuck when it comes to the sleeves. Where is the measurements for the sleeves? Help please.

    • April 26, 2014

      Hi Savannah! I’m so excited you are making one! Both of these are measured in the “Drafting the Pattern” section. The Strap Length is measured in step 8 – while you are drafting the pattern. The strap size (Width) is in step 14 – when you are writing the measurements on the pattern piece. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions, I’m happy to answer them.

      • wasabi permalink
        October 12, 2014

        Hi Sherri,

        Thanks so much for taking the time to write this up! I’m making one for my daughter now, and I was stuck on this point too for a minute. It was because in the “Drafting the Pattern” section you refer to ‘straps’, then in the instructions you call them sleeves. I actually found the instructions a little hard to follow, could I make a suggestion that you refer to points on the pattern as A, B etc, rather than ‘the 2nd mark’ etc? But thanks for the pattern, your models are super cute!

        • October 14, 2014

          Oh dear – thanks so much for letting me know! I will go back and fix it. Good idea with the “A and B” notations as well, that sounds much simpler! I’ve got it in my notes to go back and re-write them.

  11. July 25, 2016

    Excellent writing, i did read it two times so sorry for that, i have passed it on to my friends, so confidently they should get pleasure from it as well.

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