Nightgowns can be floor-length, knee-length, baby doll style, or something in between, but more than anything they need to be comfortable. Tall women, short women or large women often have trouble finding nightgowns to fit properly, convincing them to design and sew their own. Many fabrics are suitable for a nightgown but certain fabrics can look beautiful on the bolt yet be a nightmare to sew.
Traditional nightgown fabrics like flannel, which is easy to cut and sew, nylon, which is more difficult, or satin which is even more difficult to work with are some of your choices, but rayon and cotton blends are also good. Choose flannel for a warm, snuggly nightgown and nylon, rayon, or cotton for a cooler gown.
Decide on the type of gown you would like, such as floor-length with sleeves, or a baby doll design without sleeves. You can buy a pattern, but if you want to make your own, have a friend help you take the following measurements:
1) From shoulder to floor, knee or mid-thigh, depending upon which gown design
2) Around armholes and wrists
3) Length of the arm to the wrist, elbow, or none at all if it’s sleeveless
4) Across the back, from arm to arm (from the area where the arm meets the back)
8) Back neckline from shoulder to shoulder
9) Front neckline from shoulder to shoulder
10) Shoulder from beside neck to top of arm
Lay the fabric out with the right sides together and the fold facing you. Use a disappearing marker to draw your measurements onto the fabric. Start by drawing from the fold, a neckline which scoops down only slightly, then back up to begin the shoulder. The back neckline can be cut squared or even in a V, you’re the designer. Draw the shoulder measurement, slanting downward from neck to armhole.
Draw the armhole, curving it outwards to the side seam area. For the side seam, draw a dot to represent the measurement of the bust, then the waist, then the hips onto the fabric, allowing as much extra room for comfort that you want. For a gown that fits next to the skin, only allow an inch or two beyond your real measurements, for the seam.
If you like roomy gowns, allow five inches or more. Connect the dots, continuing down to the desired length of the gown. Cut across the bottom over to the side seam. Keep in mind that if you are going to add lace, your measurements might need to be adjusted at the hem, cuffs and anywhere else you might attach the lace.
Cut the front of the gown in a similar way, changing the front of the neckline, if desired. Draw shoulders, armholes, side seams, and hem. Pin or hold the front and back pieces together and sew one shoulder seam. Open the two pieces and sew around the neck opening. For extremely lightweight material, you’ll probably need to use binding tape around the neckline. Add lace around the neckline at this time. Sew the other shoulder seam closed. Sew one side seam, open the two pieces, and sew the hem and any additional lace. Sew the other side seam shut.
Hem sleeveless armholes now. For sleeves, you can either use lace or cut an actual sleeve. To cut a sleeve, fold both pieces of your fabric where it lays, down, to make a fold. Measure the length of the sleeve by deciding if you want it to be long or short sleeve. After drawing on the length measurement, cut across the fabric for the wrist, elbow or arm measurement.
Now cut upwards to the armpit area, slowly going outwards to allow room for the upper arm, then curve severely inward to make the curve for the armhole. Sew the hem and any additional lace around the wrist, elbow, or arm area. Sew the inside seam of the arm from the wrist to the armpit area. Turn sleeve right side outward, and gown right side inward, and place the sleeve by aligning the seam from the sleeve with the seam from the side of the gown.
Pin the sleeves in place, gathering the sleeve slightly to allow for roominess, or putting in no gathers for a sleeker design. Add ribbons, decorative buttons, lace pieces, or bows to the gown to suit your own style.Pin the sleeves