BURIED DIAMOND

M9437

VINTAGE LAURA ASHLEY NIGHTGOWN - McCALL'S 9437

DIY, fashion, process, sewing, style, vintage sewingMartha PorterComment
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If you’ve read my last two blog posts, then you know I’ve got nightgown fever. Preferably sewn from a vintage pattern. Linen. Special trim required. This one is no exception, and if I can convince you to sew yourself one vintage nightgown (for sleep, or everyday wear), it should be this one: McCall’s 9437, a Laura Ashley licenced pattern from 1985. What dreams are made of!

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This pattern ticks a lot of boxes: sweet details including ruffled neckline trim, self-fabric ruffle sleeves, a narrow button placket (perfect for showing off your favorite little buttons), a sweet curved waistline, and best of all, it’s very simple to sew.

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This nightgown came out looking exactly like the envelope illustration. I used a delicate, pre-ruffled, embroidered cotton trim from Mokuba and 3/8” carved opalescent shank buttons from the sweetest button shop in the world, Logic Shop Atelier in Osaka, Japan. The buttons have a shank and cause my placket to go wavy, but I’m keeping them. I used my Bernina straight stitch hemming foot #64 to add baby hems to the sleeve ruffles and hem.

Shown here with a custom enamel charm necklace I designed a few years back - the perfect way to add some edge to such a sweet garment.

Shown here with a custom enamel charm necklace I designed a few years back - the perfect way to add some edge to such a sweet garment.

Learning to use the narrow hem foot has been a game changer - it saves so much time, and only uses 3/8” to create a perfect hem. To finish the neckline, I serged the seam allowances to the clipped corners, then pressed and edge stitched per pattern, and then added an additional row of top stitching.

Learning to use the narrow hem foot has been a game changer - it saves so much time, and only uses 3/8” to create a perfect hem. To finish the neckline, I serged the seam allowances to the clipped corners, then pressed and edge stitched per pattern, and then added an additional row of top stitching.

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Honestly, I had every intention of making this as sleepwear. But during my first fitting, Jason took one look and said, “You’re gonna wear that outside.”. Well, he was right! That said, if I want to leave the house, I wear a slip. The linen is tissue weight from Joann’s and it is sheer. I always prewash and dry my linen fabric on the hottest settings, twice, before sewing with it. This shrinks the fabric, and gives it a soft, rumpled look, and prevents too much wrinkling.

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Have you noticed the trend for sleepwear as outerwear this summer? It crept up on me. For years, I wore tight, skimpy dresses in the summer. While I still love a backless bodice, as I sew my own clothes, I have been adding more and more inches to my hemlines. I never used to enjoy the feeling of loose fabric swirling around me, but now I appreciate the sensation, especially when it’s so sweaty outside. My friend Leigh, one of the visionaries behind Catbird, has long dubbed herself a nightgown enthusiast, and I think this WWD article that she is quoted in sums up my feelings about why I love wearing them these days!

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As far as alterations, I sewed a size Small, which the envelope says is a 10-12. I typically sew size 12 with Big 4 patterns. I lengthened the bodice 1” as usual (I am 5’8”), and next time I will remove 1” from the center back width, and 1/2” from the center front width to accomodate my narrow shoulders. Because this is a sleepwear pattern, there is a lot of ease built into the pattern. I removed 1” from both side seams, from the armpit to the hem. This was more for comfort than fit, especially because I’m wearing this for more than sleep. The placket is pretty easy to install, but take your time with it, because all topstitching will be front and center. I found that the details included on the pattern tissue were essential for guiding me in the placket installation, so keep that piece out as you do it.

Let me know if you sew this one up, and where you wear it! XO, Martha