Carolyn sews the Carolyn Pajamas: shirt muslin

Carolyn Pajamas shirt muslin - with pillow

This post could alternatively be titled: “Thou shalt not question the great Heather Lou.”

I know I’m late to the party with this pattern, but that’s nothing new for me!  Although I suspect most of you have already sewn up the Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas and/or have seen a bunch of gorgeous versions online, I hope you’ll indulge me as I work my way through this pattern, one muslin at a time.  Now, I know this pattern is named after the one and only Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn – a ridiculously talented sewist by all definitions – but ever since it came out, I couldn’t help but think that it would be cool to sew up a pattern with my name on it.  If I tell myself that it was actually named after me, well, that’ll just be my own little delusion.  🙂

(By the way, thank you for the comments on my last post about my blog photos.  I think I actually managed to relax in the photo above!)

Carolyn Pajamas shirt muslin - front

Now, about not questioning Heather.  The garment you see here is a muslin of the Carolyn shirt, size 10, with no alterations other than adding 1 inch to the bottom of the sleeves.  That’s right folks, no alterations.  Well, ok, that’s not actually true.  What you see here is a muslin in which I preemptively made a bunch of alterations and then reversed them all, realizing that Heather’s original draft actually fit me pretty well.  Including the shoulders.

I’ll let you catch your breath while you process that statement.

Carolyn Pajamas shirt muslin - back

The two major alterations that I had originally made were (1) a 5/8 inch broad back adjustment, and (2) adding 1 inch in length between the shoulder and bust (which lowers the armholes) and adjusting the sleeve cap to fit.  Since my shoulders are wide and high, these are typical adjustments for me.  BUT.  Apparently Heather already has me all figured out, because the fit is pretty darn good right out of the “envelope” (PDF).  Heather Lou, I am not worthy!!

Carolyn Pajamas shirt muslin - back with arms outstretched

To be fair, the fit is a little tight across the upper back when I move my arms forward, and I’m debating adding my broad back adjustment back in, only maybe reducing it to 1/4 inch instead of 5/8.  The shirt is comfortable in this cotton muslin fabric, which has a little bit of natural stretch to it, but I’m wondering if it may be too tight in a flannel with little or no stretch.  I also wonder how much of this has to do with the ease built into this loose-fitting pattern – would Heather’s cut fit me as well in a more close-fitting style?

Carolyn Pajamas shirt muslin - right side

I spent a lot of time this weekend staring at the armholes on this shirt and went through three or four iterations before coming back to the original draft.  Altering the shoulder area is so complicated!  There is so much to learn about armscye shape, armscye depth, and sleeve cap shaping.  I think I gained some new-to-me insight and might do a separate post on this if I get some time after work this week.

(And yes, the sleeve above is wrong side out because I cut two left sleeves.  Thankfully it’s just a muslin!)

Carolyn Pajamas shirt muslin - left side

The armholes in their current version look ok, I think.  I also think there is room for improvement, but I’m going to pick my battles on this one, since it’s just a pajama top.  Overall, the shirt is pretty baggy from the side, and the bottom tends to tug on my pants in the back.  I feel like my rear end is sticking out too much for this pattern – do I have a J. Lo booty and never knew it??  🙂

Anyway, I’m glad I took the time to make a muslin of this shirt.  Any woven top, especially one with sleeves, really needs to be tested out on my Amazon woman shoulders.  The great fit bodes well for the pants part of this pattern, and now I’m curious to try Heather’s other patterns to see if the trend will continue.  Knowing how infrequently I purchase new patterns, that might take a while!

If you have any suggestions for improving the fit of this shirt, please chime in.  The benefits of multiple pairs of eyes are always helpful.

Now that my summer wardrobe seems to be in good working order, I’m excited to make myself a pair of fancy pajamas!

25 thoughts on “Carolyn sews the Carolyn Pajamas: shirt muslin

  1. Pjs for hulk-backs? OMG! My mom actually sent me this pattern and I haven’t made it, because it seemed like a lot of fitting for pjs.
    Sorry Mom! Apparently hulk-back accepted at this pj-party.
    I think the back may just be how long it is, and that it’s slightly hugging your bottom after you stretched forward?
    Oh, and I love your pj bottoms. Super cute!


    • Thanks Chris! The PJ bottoms are RTW and are really in need of replacement – hence this new pattern. 🙂 I hope you decide to sew up these PJs because I’m so curious how the shoulders will fit you! In my personal opinion, a woven top that fits without shoulder adjustments is like the holy grail of sewing patterns. My shoulders are **pretty** big, so if this top fits me, I bet it will fit you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have this pattern too. Made a pair for a gift and have everything to make mine. I am so impressed by your fitting diligence! And will look forward to your armcyse post as that is one area that confounds me. Think I have it all worked out in my head but then… what I envision does not work. :/


    • Haha, exactly! The shoulder/armscye is, in my opinion, the most challenging area to fit. Adjustments to one piece affect all other major pieces, and it’s hard to wrap your head around how all the curves fit together. Sometimes I get frustrated by my need to adjust this area, but I try to look at it as a learning opportunity. 🙂 I’ll definitely try to put that follow-up post together to show you what I did… with the caveat that I have no idea what I’m doing, LOL.

      I hope you make this pattern up for yourself! What kind of fabric did you get?


  3. I will leave the technical comments to the more experienced…..but will say that yes, you do look nice and relaxed – perhaps the pj bottoms and pillow hug make all the difference? Wondering what fun fabric you will come up for the “real” thing.


    • Thanks Jen! I do think the pillow made all the difference. I think having something to do with my hands is the key, instead of just hanging there still and not knowing what to do.

      As for the fabric, that is the million dollar question. I’m thinking of a plaid flannel but have threatened my boyfriend with making us matching PJs, so I want to find a gender-friendly print. I’m just ignoring the fact that he was not amused by this idea. 🙂


  4. I’m amazed that you want to perfect the fit of the PJ even more, I don’t think I could be bothered. It already looks awesome! Any ideas on what fabric you are going to use for the ‘good’ pair.


    • Thanks Nathalie! I know it seems silly to muslin pajamas, but since I almost always have trouble squeezing into patterns in the shoulders/upper back, I figured it would be worth the extra time. I’m thinking of a plaid flannel for the final fabric, and then perhaps something more luxurious for a second pair!


  5. I think it looks really good, and I like how you do pictures. I think it fits with your style of perfecting the fit. Your pictures make it easy to see the garment. I totally love looking at pictures of new makes by someone on a mountain in Hawaii or something, but I get frustrated when I can’t see what the garment actually looks like. I always can with your pictures, and I like that. I think this shirt looks great. I haven’t tried them yet either. I trying to perfect the shorts on my current favorite McCall’s PJ pattern, so I’ll tell myself no new patterns until I figure it out (unless you convince me). 😉


    • Thanks Lisa! My blog is definitely about the sewing and not about fashion, so I guess my straightforward photos fit in with that style. What McCall’s pattern are you using? We’ll see how it goes with the Carolyn PJs… but so far so good. 🙂


  6. I’ve been eyeing this pattern ever since Debbie Iles made it and found the shoulders broad enough! I think it’s is designed to have dropped shoulders, though, so my hunch is that the CCF block wouldn’t work as well for a close-fitting garment. My only fitting thought would be exploring a forward shoulder adjustment (one of my standards) based on some of the sleeve drag lines.


    • Yes exactly! If Debbie can fit into this pattern, so can we. 🙂 I think you’re right about the dropped shoulders, as I’ve been staring at the promo photos to see how they’re supposed to fit. In fact, I think I’ve convinced myself to add the full broad back adjustment back in, just to give myself the extra wiggle room. Good call about a forward shoulder adjustment. I’ve never done one but definitely think I could use it!


  7. I am in the process of making some Carolyn pajama shorts! I made a set when I was pregnant and I wear the pants all the time. I had a sad incident with the top where the interfacing bubbled badly after I washed my finished product. It’s also too big now so I do want to go back and try again with better interfacing. I think your shirt looks good– I am not sure what to say about the back bottom. Could it just be sticking to the flannel of the pants you’re wearing? It looks like you’ve got plenty of room in the shirt through the hips.


    • Oh no, I’m sorry to hear about your PJ top! I remember your set from a few months ago and really liked it. Crappy interfacing is the worst. I’ve been meaning to order the good stuff online for ages but never get around to it. I think you’ve just convinced me to finally do it for this project. I hear Fashion Sewing Supply is a good source. Looking forward to seeing your new shorts!


    • Thanks Ali! I suppose the Archer is a good base for this kind of top, but I wouldn’t know where to start with drafting a notched collar. I’ll leave that to the professionals! Plus, I was itching to try a new pattern. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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