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Sew for Others

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Christmas is a time of making memories with your family, and we all have our favorite traditions this time of year.  I love how things like making cookies and ornaments and sewing simple gifts can get everyone in your family involved.  And though it’s work to do so, sewing things for others is a wonderful way to show them your love and still get to do something that you love!  Today let’s talk about how to start a handmade Christmas tradition with your own DIY family pajamas.

How to start a handmade Christmas tradition with DIY family pajamas

family pajamas

Why DIY family pajamas are an easy gift win

One of the reasons I love making DIY family pajamas is that my kids almost always need new pajamas.  By the time December rolls around, pajama bottoms are looking like high waters, and last year’s flannel is looking pretty shabby.  

And if you have family members who are tough to shop for, pajamas can be an easy solution.  There’s little fitting involved, they sew up quickly, with all those good holiday fabric sales, you’ll have no problem in finding a fabric that matches the interests of all your family members.  

I got all my flannel this year from JoAnn on Black Friday for $2.50/yd.  That’s a pretty low price to pay for the fun of donut flannel.

family pajamas

DIY family pajamas workflow

family pajamas
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  1. Plan ahead: Hopefully by now, you’ve planned ahead, and if you haven’t be sure to grab my Holiday Sewing Project Planner when you sign up for my newsletter.  It’ll help you plan out what you need and organize your supplies for your gift sewing spree.
  2. Wash all your fabric:  No one likes shrinking pajamas!
  3. Prep your patterns: cut out pattern pieces, have them handy.  Find some awesome pajama pattern ideas here!
  4. Batch cutCutting all your DIY family pajamas in one session is the way to go.  It’ll save you mega time both mentally and physically!
  5. Assembly-line sew: When everything is cut, sew as many seams as possible in one sitting.  Don’t bother cutting threads between pieces.  Just sew.  Then when you need to press seams, press as many as possible. Ditto for the serger.  You won’t believe how quickly your construction process will go!

Involve your family in stitching up your DIY family pajamas

Just because you’re making DIY family pajamas doesn’t mean that you have to sew things in secret behind closed doors at midnight!  Actually, you’ll probably stress yourself out doing that.  So how can you involve your family in your pajama making time?

Let your family choose their fabric

family pajamas
Uncut flannel makes pretty awesome blankets too!

My kids and I have a tradition now.  We go to the fabric store the week before Black Friday and everyone gets to pick out a fabric that’s calling their name.  I always have them choose a backup in case fabrics sell out or get moved around in the stores.  They get really excited over being able to pick out their fabric.  And if you’ve ever gotten the meh face in reaction to someone opening up a handmade gift you’ve made, you know the value of someone liking what’s going to come their way!

If you’re sewing for family far away, have them look online for fabric that they like.  You tell them the fabrics to choose from, and they can find their favorite.  Or simply find 1 fabric that everyone will love.  I know Laquana made up pajama bottoms for her family this year in a happy gingerbread people print with the idea that who couldn’t love gingerbread people?  Exactly!

Let your kids sew family pajamas too!

family pajamas

Your kids may or may not be old enough/interested in sewing, but you can still involve them in the process.

Younger kids can help place pattern weights when you’re cutting fabric or handing you pins while you sew.  Everyone can pick out their own buttons.  Older kids can help sew.  I know my two oldest would have a hard time with the tops, but pajama bottoms are well within their abilities.  Plus, siblings can help sew for other siblings.  It’s good to teach kids to make things for others!

And even if you’re kids aren’t helping with the sewing, just hanging out in the sewing room together can be a sweet experience as a family!  Put some music on, have them bring a project in your room, and enjoy your time together.

Traditions are wonderful things to give

family pajamas
When everyone GETS the punchline! #winning

When it’s all said and done, wrap up your DIY family pajamas (or not) and enjoy making family memories together.  Pop all the popcorn, make all the cookies, watch movies together, read books as a family.  Christmas is in part about just loving your family, so do that. In pajamas!

There’s still time to make something handmade for your family!

Today we talked about why DIY family pajamas are an easy gift win, we broke down a good pajama making workflow, and we chatted about how to involve your family in your gift sewing process.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this handmade Christmas family pajamas series. 

If you’re not making full on pajamas this year for your family, I encourage you to try your hand at some kind of handmade project. Even a quick 7-minute zipper bag, upcycled fingerless gloves make great gifts and they’re perfect for last minute. 

What are you making for your family this year?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

family pajamas
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So far in my Holiday gift sewing series, I’ve talked about sewing for others without going crazy.  I also shared some great pajama patterns for everyone on your sewing list.  Today, I’m talking about why you should batch cut your gift sewing.

Why you should batch cut your gift sewing

Q: What is batch cutting, and why do I want to do it in the first place?

Batch cutting is cutting out literally a batch of the same project.  I suppose you could cut out several different projects.  Anytime you can cut out several projects at once, you stand to save yourself time later, so it’s all good! 

For my purposes, in making pajamas as my gift sewing project for my family this Christmas, I cut out all the different sizes that I needed.  The best batch cutting happens when you can cut the same pattern out in multiples.  

Whatever your project, cut it out as many times as needed for all the people on your list.

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Project deets from my Holiday Sewing project Planner.  

Is there anything I need to remember when I batch cut?

There’s two things you might want to consider before you batch cut your gift sewing:

If greater than 1, do not pass go, do not collect $200 before sewing yourself out of the basket!
  1.  Commit to sewing up your batch before you do other projects: this requires some discipline!  When you have stacks of cut projects, they can weight you down mentally.  And if you bag them up in any way for another day, you might forget about them entirely.  This can lead to the dreaded U.F.O. pile.  Unfinished objects are no fun to sew.  So that stack gets done A.S.A.P.!
  2. Make sure you’re organized:  Have all your pattern pieces ready to go, all your notions in one place, and enough space to contain all your batch cut efforts.
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Patterns all cut/traced and ready.  It’s go-time!!
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Easy steps to batch cut success

While it’s true that it takes a certain amount of time to cut 1 project, it often doesn’t take twice as long to cut a second version of the same thing.  Weird, I know!  Let’s break down how to batch your projects!

  • Have all your pattern pieces ready to go.  Set interfacing on your ironing board.
  • Set out your fabric on your table.  Lay out your pattern pieces, pin or weigh down pieces with weights.
  • Cut all your pieces.  Mark any pieces that need marks.  
  • Set any pieces that need interfacing on the ironing board in a pile.
  • Repeat cutting with the next fabric.  Add more to the interfacing pile.
  • Fuse all your pieces with interfacing at one time on the interfacing.  This will save you time of cutting out interfacing again, fusing it, then trimming it, and it doesn’t waste as much interfacing as you think.  
  • Trim away the extra interfacing around the pieces.
  • Set each project in one pile.  If it works for you, you can put them in a basket or a plastic bag, just make sure you’re not going to let that bag go into the black hole of forgetfulness!
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Bonus tips to make you a batch cutting wizard!

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Stack your pattern pieces the way you will sew them.  Put a pin in to remind yourself which seam you’re sewing first.  You can see here the fronts and backs are stacked right sides together at the shoulder.  Repeat for as many pieces as possible!

Okay this is super bonus advanced:  Consider cutting all your fabric out at the same time.  This will work best if you cut your pieces in one layer rather than on the fold.  Home sewing patterns are set up for us to cut on the fold, but flat cutting will be more accurate.  And you can only do this if you’re cutting 1 project that’s the same size.

  • Stack all the fabrics you need to cut. 
  • Take the time to line them up carefully.  Use your best judgment on how many thicknesses of fabric you can accurately cut through.  In industrial settings, they use giant saws, but at home, it’s just you and your trusty scissors/rotary blade.
  • Make sure you have enough room to flip over pieces when you’re flat cutting.
  • Weigh down your pieces with pattern weights/canned goods/rocks/anything heavy!
  • Use a rotary cutter if you can for the best accuracy and speed!
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Pattern weights + rotary cutter = lightning!

Kiss your brain!  You just saved yourself a bucket of time!

By now, you should have some good ideas on how the batch cutting process can save you some time.  We’ve talked about what batch cutting is, things you need to remember when you batch cut, easy steps to batch cutting success plus some more advanced batch cutting tips.

Do you batch cut your projects?  I’d love to know how batch cutting saves you time!

And don’t forget to pick up your free Holiday Sewing Project Planner.  These little worksheets will have you all planned up in short order for a relaxing batch of sewing for others!  Just click on the pic below to sign up for my newsletter and the planner will zoom its way to you!

batch cut
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Making pajamas for others is a win for everyone.  They’re easy enough for beginners, fun crazy fabrics are often on sale this time of year, and if for some reason your sewing goes awry, you won’t have to worry about your mistakes going out of the house!  While nearly every pattern company has a good pajama or two in their collection, here is a collection of pajama patterns that are good for everyone in your life from babies up through grandparents!

If you missed my post about how to make handmade gifts for the holidays without going crazy, I’m offering a Holiday Sewing Project Planner when you sign up for my newsletter.  It’ll help you organize your sewing projects in one spot so that your gift sewing will be smooth and stress free!

Pajamas for your bestie/sister/Mom

Carolyn Pajamas

Closet Case Patterns’ Carolyn Pajamas are popular for a reason.  They’ve got classic pajama styling with Closet Case’s excellent fit.  The added piping makes these a fun sew for an advancing sewist and a nice sharp detail.  I can’t imagine your best friend or your sister or Mom being sad to receive a pair of these!

I made these in a percale with contrast gingham, and they’re one of my favorite sets!

Pajama patterns for men

Pattern companies have come a long way in offering good patterns for men.  Every time an indie pops up with some new offer for men, it’s a cause for celebration!  Here’s some great options for men’s pajama patterns.

Jalie Nico Raglan 

Image from Jalie Patterns

Jalie’s Nico raglan tee is a nice option for pajamas.  With casual styling and a size range from boys’ 2T-men’s 60 (50″ chest), there’s very few this pattern won’t work for.  Plus you can use it for pajamas, every day t-shirts, or even rash guards.   

Okay, so that’s a good top option.  What about a good pajama bottom for men?

Peek-a-boo patterns Hit the Hay Pajama Pants

Image from Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop

Peek-a-boo patterns Hit the Hay Pajama pants is good for hip size 33-51″, so these would be great for teenagers in your house or the men in your life.  With unisex styling, this is a great pattern for women as well!

Ottobre 7-2018-5/6

Ottobre is one of my favorite resources for great basics with nice added details.  Long a great pattern company for children and women, last year Ottobre launched their family issue.  In it you’ll find great classics for men with the fantastic added details that Ottobre is so good at.  The current issue features a nice set of classic men’s pajamas.  And because it’s the family issue, there’s women’s pjs too!

Image from Ottobre 7-2018 issue

Check out the piping on the pocket.  Love!!! 

Pajama patterns for kids

If you’re like me, making pjs for your kids is fun all over the place.  We regularly cut up old t-shirts and mix them with modern fabrics for something really fun.  These Bat-jams were one of my favorite this year!

pajama patterns

Patterns for Pirates Sugar Spice pjs

Image from Patterns for Pirates

If you don’t love Pattern for Pirates Sugar Spice pjs, you might be heartless!  This adorable styling on these knit long john style pajamas is too stinking cute.  How nice is it to have size 3 months-14?!  

Blank Slate Patterns Pocket Pjs

Pocket PJs pdf sewing pattern by Blank Slate Patterns
Image from Blank Slate Patterns

Blank Slate Patterns’ Pocket Pjs are a nice option for woven fabrics.  I love how you can mix and match fabrics for a nice contrast look!  The placket top is a nice variation on the classic button down as well.  Sizes are from 18 months-size 8.

Goodnight Sweetheart Pajamas from Sewing for Boys

Image result for sewing for boys shelley figueroa
Image from Elsie Marley

This is kind of a different choice being from a book.  Shelley Figueroa’s Sewing for Boys is a favorite in my house.  Being a boy mom x3, I really appreciate when I find sources for interesting boys’ patterns.

The Goodnight Sweetheart Pajamas are another cool variation on classic button downs.  There’s no collar in this pattern (easy!!), and the stitched down  facings make for a really clean look that also won’t poke at kids’ sensitive skin on the inside.  I’ve made these a couple times for my boys.  I know Katie of Kadiddlehopper has loved this pattern to pieces.

Vintage style pajama patterns

Simplicity 8659 Men’s “Cabana set” 

Simplicity Pattern 8659 Men's Vintage Cabana Set
image from Simplicity 

If you’re looking to have a beachy kind of Christmas, this pattern reproduction from the 1950s might be a good choice.  THAT is a collar!

Nina Lee Piccadilly Pyjamas

Here’s another good vintage option.  Nina Lee’s Piccadilly Pyjamas.  The stand up collar is a fun variation, and I love the vintage flair of the tulip-shaped pockets.  I know The Twilight Stitcher made up a really cute pair of these fun jams!

Wearing History Lounging at the Lido 1930s pajamas

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Image from Wearing History

I love this pattern from Wearing History.  There’s so much elegance in the pajama set, and it would make an extraordinary gift for your friend or sister or Mom!  Or shoot, sew it for yourself because it’s okay to sew presents for you too!

So those are some of my favorite pajama patterns.  Hopefully you found one or more that you’ll remember the next time you’re looking for pajama patterns to sew for your loved ones!  I want to know:

What are your favorite pajama patterns to sew for others?

For sewists, we can feel the pressure to want to make handmade gifts for the people in our life.  We want to show off our mad sewing skills AND give something heartfelt to our loved ones.  Who doesn’t want to watch your child or your husband rip into a package and treasure it all the more because it was made just for them?  But sometimes the pressure of making all the things can get too much, especially this time of year when the calendar is already filled with so much activity.  Sewing should be fun, not stressful!  So let’s tackle how to make handmade gifts for the holidays without going crazy.

How to make handmade gifts for the holidays without going crazy

First, we’ll dive into helping you define your why when it comes to creating handmade gifts.  Next, I’ll share some strategies that will help you identify projects that make great handmade gifts.  Last, I’ll show you how to organize all your goods for a successful gift sewing experience.

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Why do you want to make handmade gifts?

Before we start talking about what projects that make awesome handmade gifts, let’s define your why.  Why do you want to make handmade gifts in the first place?

Do you feel like you have to sew all the things?  Do you feel like buying something seems impersonal vs. making something?  Does it feel like because you have this skill of sewing, you’re a bad sewist if you don’t make at least 1 thing for all the people on your list?  Friend, you might be setting yourself up for stress if you believe these things.  But…

Do you love sewing for others?  Want to be able to show your love for your family and friends through your sewing?  Is there lots of fabric in your stash ready + an easy project that you can sew up quickly for gifts?  Good!  Those are all great reasons to make handmade gifts.  Which ones to choose???

Choose an easy, fast, repeatable project

What projects are good choices for handmade gifts?  Things that don’t take a lot of resources and are easily repeatable can make wonderful handmade gifts.  If you can cut out 10 and make it in a couple hours, you’ll be well on your way to being able to love your family and friends without a lot of headache.

Here’s a whole list of easy video tutorials I put together last year for quick and easy projects for handmade gifts.

Small projects like bags, scarves, mittens, or hats take very little fabric and can all be made in just a few minutes.  If you’re looking for a slightly bigger project, pajamas are a wonderful option.  Sewists of all levels can easily tackle pajama bottoms for anyone.  Pajamas get an extra vote because virtually every pattern company under the sun has an easy pajama pattern.

Use the same pattern

Once you’ve found some projects that you might be interested in, do yourself a solid and use the same pattern for your gift sewing adventures.  It might seem boring to do so, but once you’ve made up a project in multiple fabrics, each one will look totally unique.  And shoot, if you want to use the same fabric, that could be cool too.  Everybody loves a good matchy matchy pic of your family!

Patterns that come in multiple sizes are perfect for this kind of thing.  A pattern that’ll work for every single person on your list is pure gold.  It’ll save you time of searching through your stash or looking online for that perfect pattern for every member of your family.  Don’t forget the power of the one-size fits all pattern too!

handmade gifts
Some of my favorite pj patterns–they have been loved through nearly every size!

So you’ve identified your project, you’ve found the perfect pattern that’s going to serve all your needs.  Next, how do you prepare for the best, non-stressful sewing session?

Clean your sewing space

Ok, cleaning your sewing space isn’t fun to do, but a clean work area will really help clear your mind for a round of stress-free sewing.  You’re going to have a hard time making all of your handmade gifts in a cluttered room.  If cleaning the whole room is going to be too much, just clear out a small area that can be totally uncluttered and dedicated only to your project.  You’ll be amazed at how much a little organization can help!

Check out my sewing room tour.  You’ll walk away with some great thoughts on organization. 

Identify and prep your fabric

Determine which fabric you’re going to use.  Will you be using the same fabric?  Did you buy enough to cover all your needs?  I know certain fabrics like flannel come in obnoxiously and seemingly ever-shrinking narrow widths, so I have to constantly remind myself to buy extra!  What if you’re using stash fabric?  Will this be a scrap-happy project?

Whatever fabric you choose, wash and dry all of it.  If you’re using scraps from another project that you’ve saved, set them all out in a work area and double check to make sure your pattern pieces will fit.

Do you need any special notions like zippers, interfacing, bias tape, or buttons?  Gather all those things out and set them in a pile with each fabric.

Sew with love

Mommy made dress + squishy face =the best

Finally, don’t forget to sew with love.  Remember who you’ll be making things for, and the affection you want to share with those people.  With these things in mind, your work will become a joy and not just one more thing on your list!

So we’ve looked at defining why you want to make handmade gifts, what projects make awesome handmade gifts, and how you can begin to set yourself up for a stress-free gift sewing session.  Stay tuned next week when I’ll be sharing some awesome pajama patterns that are perfect for handmade gifts!

Until then, you can sign up for my newsletter and get a free Holiday Sewing Project Planner.  It’ll help you organize your thoughts and get you going in no time!  Just click on the image below to join my newsletter, and you’ll have happy mail from me in no time!

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