Knit Pajamas for All!
Knit pajamas make great holiday gifts, whether you make them to match for holiday greeting cards or make them different to suit each recipient’s interests. My children have come to expect new pajamas each Christmas and I like to change them up a bit year after year. They’ll get footie pajamas here or a cozy onesie there. Whether I change the fabric type or the style, they’re all a bit different. This year I’m making knit pajamas for the kiddos. I’m even making myself a pair, using a FREE leggings pattern!
In the past I’ve made flannel PJs, nightshirts for my girls and fleece PJ pants for my son. I love the feel and stretch of knit, plus knit is super easy to sew (especially if you have a serger!). Knit also lasts beyond winter, so the knit pajamas will get more wear than fleece or flannel versions.
My son loves Harry Potter and my girls love hedgehogs and sloths. This made choosing the fabric prints super easy and fun. (My son got to open his knit pajamas early to take pics for this post. I think he likes the gift!)
KNIT PAJAMAS – PATTERN CHOICES
With so many patterns out there, how do we choose?
- Make sure the pattern is designed for knit fabric. If it’s designed for a woven fabric, the finished pants will be much too big.
- Check if the pattern is multi-sized and unisex (if you have boys and girls to sew for).
- Choose a reputable pattern source; ideally one that also offers online video support if you’re a beginner.
- Leggings work well for pajamas, too! Footie pajamas are also fun.
Featured kid pajama pattern is Ellie Mae Designs Girls and Boys Top and Pants, Kwik Sew 0251. (BONUS! It comes with two top patterns, too!)
Also shown: Free Leggings Pattern for Women (adult size) by Emily Thompson of Life Sew Savory.
Another favorite Knit Top that’s great for Adult Pajamas (the dress version makes a great nightshirt) by CKC Patterns: Sydney’s Curved Hem Ruffled Raglan Top & Dress
KNIT PAJAMA PANT CONSIDERATIONS
- Transfer the pattern for each pair of knit pajamas to be able to reuse it multiple times and preserve the original.
- Note the seam allowances included in the pattern. If using a serger, the seam allowances should be 3/8″. If using a traditional sewing machine, the seam allowances should be 5/8″ (or whatever you like to sew with). Make sure to transfer the correct seam allowance onto the transferred patterns depending on which sewing method you choose. (For example, if you choose a pattern with 3/8″ seam allowances and you don’t have a serger, either sew with the narrow seam allowance or add 1/4″ beyond the pattern edge when transferring to use a 5/8″ seam allowance.)
- If using a serger, if possible, and set it for a 4-thread overlock for construction. If using a traditional sewing machine, set it for an overlock stitch, if available, or a stretch stitch.
- A jersey needle is essential. The tip won’t pierce through the knit, but rather push the fibers aside to create a stitch. This results in a more evenly balanced stitch that doesn’t snag the fabric or push it into the machine throat plate.
- Use a twin needle for the waistband and hems for a professional (and easy) finish. Make sure to et your sewing machine for a twin needle. Practice a straight stitch using the twin needle to adjust the stitch length until satisfied with the result.
- Use pattern weights when cutting out knit pajamas. The pattern weights help keep the pattern pieces in place and the knit from shifting.
- Use a rotary cutter and self-healing mat to cut knit pajamas. A rotary cutter produces the most accurate edges while swiftly and cleanly cutting each piece. (Featured rotary cutter is Havel’s 45mm Rotary Cutter and Double-Sided Rotary Cutting Mat)
- Create several pair of knit pajamas (pants, tops or both) by stitching them up to a certain point, and then finishing them together. Stitch the legs and crotch seam of each pair. Then, stitch the waistband for each pair. Next, hem each pair. This way no one gets left behind when you’re under the gun to get them finished by Christmas day!
- When creating kid pajama pants, cut the length longer than expected. It’s always good to have too much along the lower edge than not enough. Plus, kids grow so fast and the extra hem allowance can then be let out as the child grows for longer wearing time.
HEMMING KNIT PAJAMAS
Stabilize the knit fabric edges in one of two ways to avoid the fabric stretching during sewing. If the edge is stretched, a “wavy” hem results. Unless this is the look you’re going for, the edge needs stabilizer.
- Place a strip of Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy™ along the folded fabric edge before stitching. This stabilizer is completely water-soluble. Cut a strip slightly wider than the hem. Remove the paper backing and place the sticky side against the fabric fold. Stitch through all layers using a twin needle or stretch stitch. Either soak the hems in running water after construction or throw the knit pajamas in the washing machine to remove the stabilizer completely.
2. Place a strip of Sulky Tear-Easy™ along the hem edge. This stabilizer is NOT sticky, so secure it with a few stitches at the beginning of the seam, and then continue sliding it under the hem edge while stitching. When stitching is complete, carefully (very carefully) tear away the stabilizer to remove it completely.
The hem wrong side looks like a wide zigzag or stretch stitch, while the right side looks like a row of double stitches. This is the beauty of a twin needle!
KNIT PAJAMAS – PANT CONSIDERATIONS
Use 50 wt Cotton + Steel thread by Sulky for knit pants construction. The lighter weight thread allows the seams to lay flat, which is especially nice when constructing legging-style pajamas that are tighter against the body.
When inserting a waist elastic, if the pattern directs, use a safety pin to guide the elastic through the casing. Don’t forget to leave the opening, especially when using a stretch stitch that’s a bit more difficult to remove with a seam ripper! To help remember to leave an opening, place double pins at the opening beginning and end. This jogs your memory so you’re sure to keep that area free of stitching.
Enjoy making knit pajamas for your family for any holiday! Let me know the patterns you like to use in the comments below.