Friday, 13 November 2015

Penitentiary Pyjamas

My latest make…Penitentiary Pyjamas!

Although there is a Lightnin' Hopkins song called Penitentiary Blues, I keep getting the much catchier tune of the St James Infirmary blues in my head instead whenever I think about these Penitentiary Pyjamas. 

Are you listening to it? Great! 

I'm so excited to share this project with you. Recently, I was browsing in one of my favourite fabric shops for lining fabric, when I instead came across this lovely black and white striped knit. I knew straight away that I'd like to make another Hemlock T-shirt with it, so it came home with me. The fabric is ponte di Roma, which I'd never used before. 

This time I just used the Hemlock pattern straight up, as it's offered online - no fiddling around with length. The fabric was great to work with - really easy to cut and sew, hardly creases, and doesn't even really need finishing. I overlocked the T-shirt together in a flash, then added a contrast pocket for fun. I'd wanted to cut the neckband the other way (to have fun vertical stripes going around the neckline), however ponte di roma is a fabric which only has a little horizontal stretch and no vertical stretch at all, so this wasn't feasible. 

The sleeves again ended up a bit of a weird length for me. I overlocked bands onto the edge, as I prefer this finishing method for knits; but still the bracelet length sleeve is slightly impractical for this boxy, oversized sweater. I tried it on and had a brainwave: it wanted to be pyjamas!

The next day I dug out the pattern that I'd previously devised for leggings. I then traced around a pair of my favourite pair of old leggings, and amalgamated the two different patterns. I did lots of measuring, added ease, and then did the sensible thing of cutting the leggings out with 1" seam allowance all around. (I should really have done this before, to avoid leggings-gate.) To my surprise, they seemed to fit! I added more ease to accommodate my muscular calves, and took them in more around the hips to avoid the saggy crutch look. Then, I overlocked them together.

The leggings are still a little tight around the calves, which makes them ride up at the ankles and knees as you can see. But overall, this is my most successful pair of leggings yet! Fine-tuning the pattern along the contours of the leg will help achieve a better fit, but I'm really happy to finally have a better starting-point for those tricky knits with no vertical stretch. 

I've slept in them all week and they're very cosy and snuggly. Although I normally tend to try to avoid more synthetic fabrics (this ponte de Roma is a viscose and polyester blend), the fabric is quite soft and it's insulating without getting too hot. 

 I may make another pair with more ease, as looser pyjamas are more comfortable. And my boy-friend came home from work to find me in this jailbird look and requested the same for himself! So this won't be the last you see of what's surely the ultimate in stripes.

Project details:
Penitentiary Pyjamas
Pattern: Grainline Studio's Hemlock T-shirt // My own leggings pattern
Notes: Be aware of the sleeve length!
Fabric: 2.5m stripe ponte di Roma, viscose/polyester blend, from Classic Textiles, Goldhawk Road
Cost: £12 for the fabric; threads and patterns in my stash!

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