Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cursed projects: McCall's 6458 - Toddler pajamas

Note: I actually completed these back in 2013, but since they were a Christmas present for my daughter, I didn't get a chance to photograph them or really want to talk about them much before she had seen them. You have to keep some things a surprise, even for toddlers!

You know the type of sewing project...the ones where they should be easy, but it seems like every little thing goes wrong and every Big 4-ism seems ten times more annoying than it should be? These pajamas were one of Those Projects. Toddler pajamas.

McCall's 6458

A little history

A few months ago, shortly after purchasing my new-to-me Babylock Evolve serger/coverstitch, I   broke one of the two needles that the machine came with because I forgot to re-engage the knife when switching back to serger mode. Doh.

After running to several different local stores trying to find the correct needles for my machine, I ended up at Pacifc Fabrics, a store with a few locations around Seattle and a FANTASTIC selection of nice fabrics. While stopping by to get the needles, one fabric caught my eye. (Even though I wasn't fabric shopping and therefore not looking at fabric. At all. Pacific Fabrics had a nice beefy cotton flannel with a licensed Yo Gabba Gabba print. My daughter loves Yo Gabba Gabba. I had to buy the fabric, right?

I felt even more pressure once I got the fabric home; every time that Eva was in my sewing room, she'd manage to find "her Gabba fabric" (as it became known) and point to and name the different characters on the fabric. "Muno! Toodee!" She'd manage to find it even when I'd shoved it onto a shelve, pull of the fabric, and name characters. At this point, I decided that Gabba pajamas would make a great Christmas present, and I couldn't wait to see her face when she unwrapped her present and found that she could now actually wear her Gabba fabric!

The project

Toddler pajamas. What could be easier? Just a pair of elastic waist pants and a shirt with a convertible collar? I even found some really nice piping at Rose City Textiles on our Portland trip, so I decided to use McCall's 8458 for a pattern. Here's the line drawing--it looks like a pretty innocent pattern, doesn't it?
Granted, one of the reviews for the pattern was pretty negative, but I'm a reasonably experienced sewist, so how difficult could it be?
  • The first issue that I ran into is that the pants run ridiculously long. I chose the 2T size, figuring that they would be a little big but would then give my daughter more months of wearing. I had to shorten the pant hem by 3 inches once they were complete to make them wearable. (She's 18 months old and just over the 50th percentile in height for her age, to give you reference.)
  • The second issue that I ran into is that I stupidly followed McCall's construction order (sort of) for attaching the piped cuff. I have a fairly small free-arm space on my Bernina Activa 230, which allows me to sew into tight places pretty easily. The width of the cuff with the piping was too small to fit over the free arm, and with the added stiffness of the piping, this was a bear to attach. And the McCall's instructions actually wanted you to slip-stitch the inside part of the cuff to the sleeve. On toddler pajamas. I don't think so.
  • The third issue is that I had two glasses of wine before deciding to attach the button band to the shirt. When I went to attach the button band to the shirt front, I found that the button band appeared to be about 5/8" too short. So I shortened the button band by 5/8". Doh! The shirt runs nearly as long as the pants, so a pair of scissors and re-hemming the shirt fixed my mistake. (Full disclosure: I am still not sure whether the button band actually runs short or if post-glass-of-wine, I had misaligned the seams.)
After the button band incident, I was completely over this project and was actually glad that I'd be away from my sewing machine for two weeks.

I should note that the pattern envelope has the following warning:

"Note: The garments in this pack are not intended for sleep apparel."

I guess that makes it a perfect match for the fabric, which had the warning that it was "not suitable for children's sleepwear". Or maybe I should have taken those to warnings together as an omen?

The result

Thankfully, in spite of drafting issues and boneheaded mistakes, the final pajamas turned out cute:

Eva celebrates her Christmas PJ's with her bedtime bottle:


No, I don't think I'd sew these again. If I wanted to make toddler sized piped pajamas, I'd check out the Lazy Day Pajamas from Blank Slate or Sleepover Pajamas from Oliver + S. The only reason that I didn't do that this time was that I was cheap (McCalls were on sale for $1.99 at Hancocks) and lazy (didn't want to tape pages together from a PDF or trace). I think I've learned my lesson here--when there's an option from an established indie, go for the indie over the Big 4 pattern for toddler patterns.

Would I recommend this pattern to others? Eh, there really aren't many piped pajama patterns out there for toddlers, and you can certainly make this one work, but I'm not sure that it's worth the headache just to save a few dollars. Just be forewarned. At least the finished pajamas turned out cute, and my daughter loves them. That's what matters.


  1. That is just too darn cute. How sweet she looks. Worth all of your effort.

    Two glasses of wine LOL - that's why I don't sew at night!

  2. Can I say a million kind words about Ottobre pattern magazine for children? I quickly became fed up with the poor fit of all children's patterns from the Big 4 when I began sewing for my granddaughters. And then I found Ottobre. Check their website! Really cute clothes and their fit is spot on! Another plus, the magazine covers a large size range, from babies to teens, so well worth the subscription.

    (I also adore Pacific Fabrics here in Seattle.)

    Barbara Quinn

  3. Barbara, I actually have a subscription to Ottobre and will likely be using it a lot more now that my daughter is getting into toddler sizes. :)

    The only reason I didn't go that route for these PJs is that I had a very specific pattern type in mind and didn't see anything like that in my still-small stash of Ottobres.

  4. thanks for your review and photos. I was stunned to see the disclaimer about "garments..not intended for sleep apparel."!! What the...?!? So I googled an inquiry and came up with your lovely post. I have cut out the pattern so I will make it. They do seem rather large. I guess the children will grow into them.