East Dakota Quilter


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Pajama Pants: A Range of Sizes and Styles to Consider

My family was fortunate to spend Christmas 2020 together. We accomplished this feat, despite COVID restrictions, by putting all three households in complete lockdown for two weeks prior to the visit. I am aware how incredibly privileged that makes all of us, and I don’t take the gift of that time together lightly. We were tested before and after our trip and had no positive results.

I may have gotten ahead of myself this year. I figured that if we made getting together work during the height of a pandemic, it should be even easier in 2021. I ordered fabric to make matching pajama pants for all the girls in my family (my mom, sister, two daughters, and me). Now it is starting to sink in that with the Delta variant, opening economies, and two kids too young for vaccination, we might wake up to different trees Christmas morning. But since we won’t know until it’s too late to make the final call on my sewing project, and since I already invested in some gorgeous Rifle Paper Co. fabric, I’m going to plod ahead anyway. I will ship the pants and make a collage of photos if needed.

I am hoping for a fairly uniform look but am working with a variety of sizes: infant, toddler, “standard” women’s sizes, and an extended size range. It would be easiest for me if I only had to buy two patterns, one each in child and adult women sizes.

Below is a summary of the patterns I considered for adults. I thought others might find it useful to see what options I found in expanded sizes, factors I considered in selecting a pattern, and which pattern I ultimately chose. The three top contenders were:

Loungewear PJ Shirt & Pant Set by Style Arc

Pros: Prettiest pattern option available in a wide size range; easily my top choice if not for the challenges below.

Cons: Pattern is not layered; each size is a separate file, which makes grading difficult. Designer is known for “sparse” instructions, which worries me as a novice at garment sewing.

Spinifex PJs by Muna and Broad

Pros: Simple-looking pattern with pretty trim; the piping adds interest to the pants.

Cons: Cropped tops are not flattering on me personally. Pant cuffs are presumably cut separately so add a sewing step.

Dani Pant by True Bias

Pros: Stylish pant, simple construction

Cons: Afraid it could look diaper-like with a large tummy. Must purchase separate patterns for size range 0-18 and 14-32.

Also considered:

Emerson Pants by True Bias (pleated front)

Crew Trousers by Chalk and Notch (tie front)

Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Core Patterns (max size is 20; on the list for expansion per Instagram comments on 1/14/21 post; hack for wide leg exists from designer)

Birchgrove Pants by Muna and Broad (balloon shape? similar to Dani Pant w elasticized waist)

Glebe Pants by Muna and Broad (VERY wide leg for pajamas)

Calder Pants by Cashmerette (VERY wide leg for pajamas)

Magna Pants by Cashmerette (from book Ahead of the Curve, which I pre-ordered; U.S. publication postponed from Oct to Nov, and with any subsequent delay, it would be too late for my slow skills)

Hacking: Trying to use the Spinifex instructions with the Loungewear pattern pieces.

I think I’m going to go with the Dani Pant by True Bias for my sister and me. I don’t know whether my mom would also consider wearing these or whether I’ll have to do a second option for her. I am really, really worried about the stomach fit for the apple shapes in our family. I am reminded of a favorite saying from one of my aunts: “Just because it goes around doesn’t mean it fits!”

I’m not very advanced at garment sewing, so I’m not convinced I could do the Loungewear sewing without good instructions and grading options. It’s a pity because I think the pattern looks amazing. I’m waiting with bated breath for the Carolyn Pajamas and am also very excited for the Magna Pants publication. They won’t work for this particular project but are patterns I fully expect to try in the future.

Wish me luck. There’s no way I can sew double the number of pajama pants needed, so I will cut DIRECTLY into my fashion fabric! *gasp*

I sew very slowly and have Halloween to contend with in the meantime, so hopefully I will have a late December (early January) update with my finished makes!


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1930s Reproductions, Pajamas & Memories: A Quilt Story

My grandma’s death last year was difficult. She’d had Alzheimer’s for many years, so in a way, our loss was more about the years we lost during her life than about her death. Alzheimer’s also meant there were no attics to search for treasures, no inspiring little finds; those things had been done long ago. All that was left with her really were the pajamas she wore in the nursing home and a favorite print she’d received as a gift from her brother. I decided to use the pajamas to make a memory quilt.

Grandmas_Pajamas by eastdakotaquilter

I decided to incorporate small pieces of the pajamas with larger 1930s reproduction prints. It wasn’t until I started researching 1930s repros that I realized where my grandma got her style. All those cartoon kittens and ducks? Straight from the 1930s!

1930s repro prints by eastdakotaquilter

I decided on a layout that would showcase both the repro prints and the pajama pieces.

grandma quilt layout by eastdakotaquilter

At first, I thought I would use a white background. Then I realized some of the pajamas were a little dingy from multiple washings. A quilt store employee in my home state suggested I use a darker color to make the smaller pieces pop. Although pinks and purples aren’t my style, they were my grandma’s. I decided to use a purple (Robert Kaufman’s Quilter’s Linen).

basting by eastdakotaquilter

With a color scheme my grandma would have liked, I decided to include a few details that would also make it more “me.” I wanted this to be a quilt that linked us through the generations.

In particular, I wanted a pop photograph of my grandma on the quilt. I think on one hand she would have hated it and thought it was too ostentatious. On the other hand, I think she would have been flattered and would have thought I was being goofy. It makes me smile to think that she would have teased me for my selection. I turned a photo of hers into a Spoonflower design and had it printed.

grandma portraits by eastdakotaquilter

My grandma was BIG on sending birthday cards, sympathy cards, letters, etc. She kept every card she ever received. Ever. I wanted to somehow incorporate that part of her into the quilt. I used her birthday calendar to get samples of her handwriting, then embroidered her name and dates onto one of the quilt squares. I was lucky she had several friends with the same first name, and obviously family with the same last name, so it was easy to cobble together her name!

grandma signature by by eastdakotaquilter

When it came time to bind the quilt, only one color would do. Fuscia was her favorite.

quilt strips by eastdakotaquilter

(Don’t you love my washi tape “design wall”?)

langdon house by eastdakotaquilter

fuscia binding on gma quilt by eastdakotaquilter

For the quilt back, I used up the remaining portrait fabric. (I bought a yard so I would be sure to have at least one full portrait, plus a few extras in case I messed up.) I also used smaller pieces of 1930s feed sacks that I bought on Etsy, along with 1930s repro prints.

quilt back by eastdakotaquilter

I kept the quilting simple, using straight lines along the outsides of the bigger/repro squares with painter’s tape to mark the lines. The finished quilt is lap size.

This is a quilt I think my family will appreciate for a long time. My mom (whose mother is memorialized in this quilt) has first dibs, and if she decides the colors are too bright, my sister has expressed interest. My sister said the sweetest thing, “There aren’t many things left from Grandma. If I have kids someday, I would love to show them this quilt and tell them what I remember about her. It would be my way of passing along her memory.” How could a quilt be more appreciated?! I am so glad to have created a piece of family history.

Another great thing about this quilt is it was finished in February, which means my current finish rate is one quilt per month! I don’t know that I can keep it up, but I feel such a sense of accomplishment in 2014 so far.