Monday, February 13, 2017


One of the many money-saving rules in my fashion life is that I never, ever, pay for pajamas. The clothes I reserve for bedtime consist entirely of hand-me-downs, the occasional gift, and whatever stuff is too old or unfashionable to wear in public. Consequently, the last thing I bought to sleep in was a pair of fleece pants from Walmart around maybe 2009.

In cold weather, I have three sleeping shirts that go through a pretty heavy rotation, plus two pairs of flannel PJs I've had since high school, so as you might imagine, most of my sleeping clothes are beginning to show a little too much age even just for wearing to bed. But despite the inevitable need for replacement, nothing new has taken up residence in my pajama drawer in over a year, making me just a little anxious that when the time comes, I will be without a shirt to sleep in.

Fortunately, a few months ago, I came into possession of a number of soft and comfortable knit shirts that would be perfect for making into a pajama top.

Exhibit A: This pastel pink long-sleeved crop top. I really wanted to love it, but frankly, I just can't think of a scenario in which I'd be comfortable with my arms fully covered and my midriff fully exposed. Plus, it had these designed-in wrinkles that had lost their crispness and now just looked shabby, and was a little bit too short, even for a crop top. While I couldn't wear it as-is, I knew I could attach the sleeves to a T-shirt and make a long-sleeved shirt for wearing to bed! But what T-shirt would I do it to?

Exhibit B: The natural choice was another T-shirt that was another shade of pink! I fell in love with this shirt as soon as it was given to me, but unfortunately, when it was given to me, it was already on its last legs, with blue ink stains all over the top half and a couple of holes in random spots. Though unfit to wear, I kept it around because the fit was perfect, and I felt like I could cover up the flaws and make it into something wearable.

But how to cover up the flaws?
Two words: dye and appliqués!

I happened to have a box of Royal Blue Rit dye (my mom found it in her laundry room, so this dye job was absolutely free) which I used to dip-dye the top of the T-shirt.

I did it on my stovetop, and thought I was being really clever, wrapping the bottom half around a wooden spoon and clamping it in place to keep the depth consistent. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that the wrapped portion was rubbing up against spots of dye in the pot, so I ended up with a few unwanted blue stains on the back of the shirt. I also apparently dyed the back of my stove blue, so whoopsies.

Since I knew I was going to attach pale-colored sleeves to this shirt, I washed the dickens out of it after I dyed it. I didn't want to run any risk of color bleed onto my artwork. Once I was fairly certain that the color was set, I started on the sleeves!

Wearing the crop top and then putting the t-shirt on over it, I marked with pins where I needed the sleeves to start.

Then I carefully cut off the sleeves and sewed them to the tee.

Now I set my sights on the holes that still marred my work in progress. There was one on the right shoulder seam, and another in the middle of the shirt's front. To cover these holes, I decided to make heart-shaped appliqués from the remainder of the crop top.

I glue-sticked a sheet of paper to the inside of the shirt, and drew a bunch of hearts on the paper with highlighter.

Then I cut out the paper-backed hearts. The paper served to stabilize the appliqués while I was working on them.

I wanted an obviously-stitched-on look for the appliqués, but remembering how much trouble I'd had sewing on my whale applique (to another pink T-shirt—what are the chances!?), I decided to fake it. I actually did all the border stitching before the hearts were even attached to the shirt.

Only then did I cut them out (and trim off the trailing thread).

I used fabric glue to attach them to the shirt, strategically positioning them to hide the holes. I had to specially buy permanent fabric glue for this project, but I think it was worth it—I'm certain I'll get lots more use from the fabric glue in the future. My only mistake during this portion of the project was to launder the shirt before the glue had entirely set, causing the smallest heart to fall off and disappear forever in the wash.

Here's the shirt before I washed away the last heart. You get a pretty good view of the dye stains on the lower left corner.

So, there were a few small hiccups in this project. I'm glad I only ever intended this shirt to be worn for sleeping in, because the rogue glue stain and various dye stains make it a little too imperfect to wear out of the house. But for those who aren't perfectionists, it's a "love"ly little top to wear just in time for Valentine's Day!

Before the fateful laundering that wiped out two of the hearts (but after the
dye  job that stained the bottom right corner!)

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