Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pajama Thing to Toddler Sleep Sack (tutorial)

My favorite fabric shop, Fabric Bliss, hosted a crafty get together last week with wine and sewing. It was totally free, with no obligation to buy anything, but you know how it is. You'll see some of what I ended up with later on in this tutorial. Anyway, if you happen to read this blog, own a fabric shop, and are not Aurora, consider starting up a crafty fun night- it was great fun and you will get business from it.

This project is days late in being posted, partly because it was a lot of work but mostly because I'm tired and lazy and trying to get a lot of subbing in before the end of the school year. But at last, here it is.

There are other tutorials for this kind of thing out there, but I didn't use them so I'm posting my own in the hopes that someone out there will get some good out of it. First of all, though, I need to apologise for the photos. A grey sleeper on beige carpet comes out looking pretty blah. I tried, but there just wasn't much I could do to perk these pictures up.

Anyway- the sleep sack. A sleep sack is a wearable blanket that is usually intended for littler babies, to keep them warm without risk of suffocation. My son, though, sleeps so well in his that I haven't been able to give it up- we had a lot of trouble teaching him to fall asleep and stay asleep, and I don't want to jeopardise that. The thing is, these sleep sacks run about $20, and you can't get the toddler sized ones in the store, usually. I never see them in resale shops in his size, either. So I decided to make my own. Out of this one piece pajama thingy.

In front is my model sleep sack, and the gray ugly thing under it is what will become my new sleep sack. I'm not even sure what the official name for such a garment is.

The final product. Much cuter in real life.
You will need-

-An adult sized shirt with a front closure and enough length to comfortably cover your toddler's legs. I found a men's large shirt that will work, and the pajama thing.
-A sleep sack that fits for a pattern
-(optional) Fusible interfacing and cute fabric for accents.

Start by removing tags and other silly things from your material. I removed some elastic and a ribbon bow. Then, lay your template overtop and cut out the shape of the sleeves and sides, leaving about 1/2 inch of fabric for a seam allowance.

The pajama thing was the right width at the bottom, but I wanted it a little narrower at the top.

If you are using something with legs, like I was, cut those as well so you can create a smooth sack-like bottom. If you're using a shirt, just leave the bottom hem alone.

Removing the crotch!
Then, sew up the side seams you cut and finish the sleeve edges. I would have done better to have used a trim here and bind the sleeves with that, but I was lazy. So unintentional lettuce edges it is!

I neglected to take a picture of sewing up the legs, but what you want is to make it one smooth piece all the way around, like a skirt. I hope you can picture it.

Our little man somehow managed to poke or punch himself in the eye this morning before getting out of bed. Hence the mini-shiner.
At this point, I decided to try it on my son to see how the neckline fit. I thought it was a little loose, so I folded over the shoulders some to tighten it up.

Sewn accross, then folded over and sewn down.
A lot of adult necklines won't fit a child very well, so adjust as necessary. You want it to be loose and comfortable, but not to slide down over their shoulders during the night.

Now we come to finishing the bottom. At this point you have an over-long nightgown, but we're making a sack. There are a couple of ways you can handle this step. You can just sew it shut. That's how the ones in the stores are made, and they're perfectly serviceable. However, it limits the useful life of the garment. Also, this pajama thing didn't open all the way down the front, so I wanted to be able to open the bottom and pull it over his head.

I decided to add a drawstring, instead. You could use elastic, and I think it would work better, but I didn't have any thin enough for the casing I had. See, the decorative trim at the bottom of this thing had a gap just big enough to thread a string through, so I went for that. If the hem of your material doesn't have a gap, you can fold it up to make a casing for elastic or string.

Threading my drawstring into the seam. This drawstring comes from an old pair of cargo pants.
I decided on the drawstring option after I'd sewn up the legs, so I had to undo some stitching to be able to thread my drawstring all the way through.

Now for the fun part! At the craft night, I saw some adorable kids fabric with a pattern of little cars. I thought it would be perfect to liven up this drab little outfit. So I ironed on some scraps of fusible interfacing, fussy cut out the cars, and ironed them on the pocket.

Beep, beep!

I love this fabric so much. I got helicopters, too. I don't know what they'll be, but something fun for sure.

And that's it! It wasn't quick, but it's such a useful thing to have for our sleepy little baby and it saved me eighteen dollars.

EDIT: while I didn't actually intend for this to be made from a teeshirt (I meant more of a button down shirt), once I read the blurb on Craft Gossip I realized it would work just fine with the drawstring bottom. That might be my next project!


  1. Looks comfy. The cars are adorable!

  2. Thanks, Tara! The cars are my favorite part.

  3. Great picture of Kai, and he looks really happy in his new sleeper :)

  4. Hi Muriah, I like this and think you are wise to figure out a way to keep Kai sleeping sound through the night. Also, I appreciate the mid-tutorial picture of Kai.


  5. Mom and Anna, thanks! He's such a gleeful little boy.

  6. Love this! Perfect for my lil one who is quickly outgrowing her sleep sacks. Thanks!