2016 Christmas Presents – Part II, Clothing

I’ve already shared the slippers and knitting needle roll I made for friends this Christmas. This post is about the clothing I made for Christmas: dresses and PJs for my friend Beth’s children*, and a shirt for my dad.

Firstly, the little outfit for Beth’s kids. After going way over-the-top for their birthdays, I kept it simple with some classic Christmas pyjamas and a special dress each. Both of these fabrics were op shop finds: the amazing robot fabric I used for the PJs is actually a doona cover, and the fabric for the dresses is Michael Miller’s Children at Play Parade, which I couldn’t believe I saw hanging from the racks at Salvo’s.

Two pairs of children's pyjamas in robot print.

The PJ pattern is Burdastyle Boy’s Pajama Set 12/2010 #135, and is clearly not just for boys**! It is a traditional PJ pattern with notched collar, topstitched back facing and faux fly elastic waist pants. I skipped the lil’ shirt pockets, cos the kiddos don’t use them, but constructed everything else pretty much as the pattern dictated. Sewing these was so fun and easy it made me think I should make my own PJs…..but Peter Alexander, I just can’t quit you.

Two children's dresses in Michael Miller's Children at Play print.

You’ve seen this dress pattern before – it is the Square Neck Smock/Dress from Sew Sweet: Handmade Clothes for Girls. Like I said in my previous post, I can’t recommend this book enough. This time I thought I’d be clever and fully line the dress, attaching the sleeves afterwards.

A child wears a dress and pyjama pants. She holds up a pyjama top excitedly.
Not the greatest quality photo, but doesn’t her face say it all?

When I think I’m being clever, it is usually a terrible idea that is about to backfire on me, and this instance was no different. My lining technique meant attaching the sleeves in the round after the dress was constructed…..all I can say is I never want to sew such a small tube in the round again.

A young girl wears a dress featuring Michael Miller's Children at Play print.

I also made another dress using this pattern for my friend’s niece for Christmas. We picked out this fantastic yellow moose print on the Spotlight clearance table. This was a much quicker sew, as I constructed the garment as per instructions, then bound the neckline in self fabric. Perfect for a Western Australian summer!

A child's dress. Fabric is yellow with moose print.


Much like myself, my dad has a champagne taste on an op shop budget, so buys a lot of better quality shirts secondhand. He is still always after a nice, natural fibre shirt, so I decided to make him one for Christmas. The pattern was sneakily pin-traced from one of his better op-shopped shirts.

A man's checked button up shirt.
It….actually looks a lot worse laying flat than I thought. Meh, looks great on.

I’ve tried to pin trace garments before, but never with much success: I should have started with a button-up shirt, as it is a great first garment to copy. The pieces are flat and simple enough to trace easily, and the check acts as a grid to keep everything on grain. All the pieces came together easily – my only real problem was that the collar and stand came up short, so I had to add a few cms to CB to true to the neckline.

A man's checked button up shirt.

The fabric is a very loosely woven check cotton from The Remnant Warehouse. As nice as it looks and wears, it was an absolute nightmare to sew. It was so loosely woven that I basically had to stabilise every seam just to stop it stretching out or fraying away to nothing.

I used strips of lightweight interfacing on the shoulder, neckline and armhole seams, which were all topstitched once sewn for further strength. The hem was also interfaced, and the pocket edges held down with Steam a Seam Lite 2. The rest of the seams were doused with Fray Check to keep things in line. Fray Check was also liberally employed on the buttonholes and back of the buttons.

A man wears a check button up shirt and cream shorts.

Luckily, the end result was just what I intended, and a similar fit to the Gazman shirt I copied. Dad was pleased with his present, which was a relief as he is a very discerning clothes shopper. And now I have the perfect-fitting pattern, should he want any more shirts made up.

I’m really glad my Christmas presents were a success. Did you make any presents for Christmas?




*Or as they prefer to be called, nuggets.

**Don’t get me started on unnecessary gendering of children’s clothing….or anything, for that matter.

Author: Siobhan S

20 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic feminist and disability advocate.

12 thoughts on “2016 Christmas Presents – Part II, Clothing”

  1. Oh, it’s all lovely! Beth is so lucky!

    I haven’t made any clothes for small humans, my kids are almost as tall as me now. I was actually really impressed by the shirt you made for your dad. I just got a couple of patterns for shirts, I’d really like to learn to make them for myself. I love the style of a simple cotton shirt but I’ve rarely been able to find any that fit, look flattering, and are in a color or pattern that makes me fly. I think in my whole life I’ve landed on that three times. That’s less than once a decade at this point! Seems like just the thing a sewist should address for herself.


  2. Siobhan, smashing job on both pyjamas and dresses. I have that Japanese book. In fact I’m about to use part of one of the patterns to make a dropped waist dress, firstly gathered frill then using part of a circle skirt. They are great patterns, and your wee dresses are perfect with that gorgeous material. Your Dads shirt is really professional, he looks very proud wearing it……I think it was a good idea to keep the pattern as I reckon he’ll be keeping an eye out for suitable fabrics. A huge well done, as I told you before, I’ve Lupus and Fybromyalgia, my brain plans so many garments that are not always so my admiration is limitless….. Its difficult to say ‘keep well’, as I know you can’t control what happens, but I’m sure like me, you do everything possible to do so.


    1. Your dress variation sounds fantastic! They are very well-drafted patterns. I know the feeling of your body not being able to keep up with plans! Sometimes you just have to imagine things and just do what you can.


  3. What a find with the MM fabric! And wouldn’t you know it my kids have that robot doona! They’re all getting a bit old for it now, maybe I should turn ours into pjs.


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