Cozy Sewn Nightie |

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Cozy Sewn Nightie


With this tutorial, you can learn how to make a sewing pattern especially for your little girl to wear to bed. This Cozy Sewn Nightie will soon become your daughter's favorite bedtime apparel. Little girls just love how soft this nightie is, and she will love that her mother made it just for her. Once you learn how to make your own sewing patterns, you won't have to rely on shopping and hand-me-downs for pajamas to wear. Create a Cozy Sewn Nightie to wish your daughter sweet dreams every night.

Cozy Sewn Nightie
This image courtesy of

Primary Technique: Sewing

Sewn by: Both Hand and Machine



  • Old t-shirt, adult size medium or larger -- preferably an awesome one
  • Coordinating t-shirt, any size (or some knit material in a similar weight)  You can get crazy and use separate colors for the ruffles and binding strip for the neckline if you want, so in that case you will need two coordinating t-shirts.
  • Coordinating thread to both t-shirts
  • Freezer paper (or regular paper taped together to make one piece at least 20” tall and 8” wide) for drafting the pattern piece
  • Ball point sewing machine needle (for sewing with knits)


Drafting the Pattern

  1. Grab some freezer paper (or regular paper if you don’t have any freezer paper on hand) and draw a vertical line 20 inches long.  [Freezer paper is awesome because you can iron it to fabric and it temporarily adheres for you to cut around.  It can be ironed on over and over again, too.  It works especially well with knits, which like to walk around while you are cutting.]

  2. Draw a dot one inch down from the top and label it point “A”.  For future reference, this is the top of the pattern piece.
  3. Draw a dot 2 1/4" to the right of the top of the vertical line and label it point “B”.  Draw a shallow concave curve (as pictured) between points A and B.  It doesn’t need to be perfect – just a gentle curve.
  4. Draw a dot 2 1/4" down and six" to the right from the top of the first vertical line and label it point “C”. 
  5. Draw a shallow concave curve (as pictured) between points B and C.
  6. Draw a dot 16" down and 8" to the right from the top of the original vertical line and label it point “D”.  Draw a straight line from point C to point D.  Make a small mark on the pattern at point D and transfer this mark to the fabric piece at the very edge once it is cut.
  7. Draw a dot 20" down and 3" to the right from the top of the original vertical line and label it point “E”.  
  8. Draw a gentle convex curve between points D and E.
  9. Draw a dot at the bottom of the original vertical line and label it point “F”.  Draw a straight line between points E and F.
  10. Mark the original straight line between points A and F with “place on fold” and cut out your pattern piece (disregarding the top inch of the original line).  For future reference, point A is at the top and point F is at the bottom of the pattern piece.


Cutting the Main Body Pieces

  1. Take your t-shirt (the one you want to be the main body of the nightgown) and lay it flat.  Cut each of the sleeves off in one piece and set them aside – you will need these for the underarm binding unless you prefer to use the coordinating t-shirt for that part.
  2. Next, cut the front away from the back by cutting up the side seams and along the shoulder seams.  You should now have four separate pieces – the front and the back, plus each of the sleeves.

  3. Fold the front of the t-shirt in half so that the design is centered and straight.  Often, silk screened designs aren’t very straight on old t-shirts, so pay special attention to this step!  Iron the freezer paper pattern piece (or place it with pattern weights, or trace around the pattern– whatever you like) onto the folded shirt, lining the “place on fold” side up with the fold in the shirt piece.  
  4. Cut around the pattern piece and peel it off.  Repeat this with the back of the shirt.  Make sure to transfer the marks at point D on the pattern piece to each side of each pattern piece (or just note that point D is where the straight side starts to curve).


Cutting the Binding and Ruffles

  1. Grab your coordinating t-shirt and cut four strips that are 2" wide along the entire width of the shirt.
  2. Cut those strips open.  Their length will vary depending on the width of the shirt used.  If you are using knit material not upcycled from a t-shirt, cut three strips that are about 48" long by 2" wide, with the direction of stretch going lengthwise.
  3. Find the sleeves from the original t-shirt that you set aside. Cut each sleeve open along the under arm and spread each sleeve flat.  Cut a strip 2" wide right above the hem.  It probably won’t be precisely on grain, but don’t worry too much about this.  If you are cutting the strips from other knit material, just cut some strips about 11" long and 2" wide, with the direction of stretch going lengthwise.


Making the Ruffles

  1. Dial the tension up on your sewing machine as high as it goes, and set your straight stitch to its longest length.  (If you don’t like making ruffles this way, just use your favorite method for making ruffles and make sure the end product is the right length.)  Take one of your long strips of material cut from the coordinating t-shirt and sew with a 1/4” seam allowance along the entire length of the strip.  Don’t backstitch at the beginning or end or else you won’t be able to adjust the ruffle to the proper length.  
  2. It should ruffle to a little less than half its length (depending on the weight of the shirt and the quirks of your machine), but leave enough of a thread tail at the beginning and end of the stitching line so that you can adjust the ruffle to be 20" long.  Tie the top and bobbin threads together at each end to secure the ruffle.
  3. Repeat the process with one of the other strips.  Now you should have two ruffles, each 20" long.
  4. Repeat the process with the third strip, but adjust this strip to be 23" long.  This will be used for the neckline/straps ruffle, so set it aside with the last long strip of t-shirt binding.


Attaching the Ruffles to the Bottom of the Nightie

  1. Take one of the ruffles and match the top (the side with the ruffling stitches) with the bottom raw edge on the right side of the front nightie piece, distributing the ruffles between the point D marks you should have made on the fabric at the end of Drafting the Pattern.  It probably doesn’t matter which side of the ruffle is the right or wrong side, but if it does please make sure you face the right side of the ruffle to the right side of the front of the nightie.  Pin the ruffle well to prevent shifting.
  2. Sew the ruffle to the front piece with a 1/2” seam allowance, then iron the seam toward the nightie.
  3. Topstitch 1/8” away from the ditch (the indentation at the seam) to secure the ruffle.
  4. Repeat this step with another ruffle and the back nightie piece. If you think your recipient is especially hard on clothes, you can definitely use a stretch stitch for each step!


Sewing the Main Body of the Nightie

  1. Place the front and back nightie pieces with right sides together and pin.  At the bottom, pin the ruffles with right sides together as well.  
  2. Sew down the sides with a 1/2" seam allowance from the underarms to the bottom of the ruffles.  When you get the point where the main body and the ruffles meet, leave your needle down and pivot to the appropriate direction to sew down the ruffle.
  3. Turn the nightie right-side out and get excited that it's starting to look like something cute!


Binding the Underarms

  1. Take one of the strips cut from the sleeves of the original t-shirt (or one of the 11” strips if you cut them from somewhere else) and pin it with a raw edge matched to the right side of the underarm.  Again, it probably doesn’t matter which is the right side of this strip, but if it does you need to match the right side of the strip to the right side of the nightie.
  2. Sew with a stretch stitch or a shallow zig zag with a 3/8” seam.
  3. Cut off any bits of the strip that extend past the underarm on each side.  Press the binding strip up toward the seam allowance.
  4. Fold the strip toward the wrong side of the nightie with the crease at the raw edges underneath.
  5. Tuck the raw edge under so that the folded edge just covers the row of stitching underneath.  Press and pin to hold it in place.
  6. From the right side of the nightie, stitch in/on the ditch with a stretch stitch or shallow zig zag to catch the backside of the binding on the other side.
  7. Repeat with the other short strip and the opposite underarm of the nightie.


Making the Neckline/Straps

  1. Sew the third ruffle (the one that is 23" long) together (with right sides together if there is a “right” side) with a 1/2” seam allowance to form a circle.  
  2. Fold it in half with the seam at one end and mark the other end (opposite the seam) with a pin.  
  3. Take the nightie and make sure it is turned right side out.  Find the middle of both the front and the back necklines by folding the nightie in half with the side seams together.  Mark those points with pins as well.
  4. Match the seam on the ruffle with the mid-point of the back neckline (with the ruffling stitch at the top and the wrong side of the ruffle facing the right side of the nightie back) and align the raw edge of the neckline with the edge of the ruffle.  Pin it in place.  Do the same with the other marked part of the ruffle and the mid-point of the front neckline, making sure not twist the ruffle.  Pin it all into place.  
  5. Baste the front neckline to the ruffle with a 1/4” seam allowance (along the same line you sewed to make the ruffle).  Do the same with the back neckline.
  6. Take your final binding strip and pin it (with the right side of the binding, if there is one, facing the right side of the ruffle) to the right side of the ruffle with the top of the ruffle aligned with the edge of the binding.  Start pinning at the back and leave a trail of a few inches at the midpoint of the back (where the ruffle seam is).  
  7. When you get all the way around to the back where you started, figure out the point at which the two binding strip ends meet and mark it with a vertical pin.  
  8.  Unpin enough of the rest of the binding so you can pull it away from the nightie to sew the binding together where the marking pin is (making sure to keep the “right sides” of the binding tails together).

  9. Trim off the excess, leaving about a 1/2” seam allowance.  Lay it flat against the ruffle again and pin back into place.
  10. Sew (with a stretch stitch or shallow zig zag) the binding to the ruffle and the nightie with a 3/8” seam allowance.  
  11. As you did with the underarm binding, press the binding strip toward the seam allowance.  Then fold it toward the inside of the nightie with the crease at the raw edges of the seam.  Tuck the raw edge of the binding strip under, making sure it covers the stitching line.  On the right side, stitch (with a stretch stitch or shallow zig zag) all the way around in/on the ditch, making sure to catch the backside of the binding strip.


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